Tag Archives: classes

Aqua Yoga: Summertime Stress Relief

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This is the first in a five-part series about aqua yoga.  

The dog days of summer are upon us.  Even though this has been a tolerably hot summer in Austin (read: not 100 degrees every single day), I find myself drawn to the water.  Even when it’s too hot for many people to want to be outside– much less exercise outside– aqua yoga offers an opportunity to move your body, still your mind, and relieve stress.

Ask anyone who has a regular yoga practice, and they’ll likely tell you that yoga helps them feel balanced.  Because yoga emphasizes the link between breath and body, most people find that they are more calm and focused with a regular practice.  The science behind the yoga and stress relief connection is starting to be documented, too.  It turns out all of your friends who claim yoga makes them feel “centered” aren’t just making it up!


For many people, though, a standard mat practice can be challenging or intimidating.  Aqua Kriya Yoga, however, offers a practice that allows people to feel buoyant, enjoy the hydrostatic pressure against the body, take pressure off of joints, and experiment with balance through familiar and slightly-modified asana.   Individuals who often feel otherwise marginalized by traditional yoga or fitness classes can be confident that aqua yoga is an inclusive, supportive way for them to establish and cultivate their mind-body connection.  What is possible in the water is incredibly encouraging.

Over the next four Thursdays, I’ll be exploring some of the highlights of aqua yoga.  I’ve been teaching classes for more than two years now, and what I’m going to share with you are the nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned from both my personal aqua yoga practice and feedback from students.  Make sure you’re subscribed to OnBalance so you can try this introduction aqua yoga for yourself.

While an aqua yoga practice is refreshing in hot summers, it shouldn’t be limited to just one season.  It’s a fantastic year-round compliment to any busy lifestyle with wellness at the center.  I’m hoping to add an indoor location to my outdoor, summer aqua yoga offerings starting in September– stay tuned!


Check out the other posts in this series about Aqua Yoga:

Buoyancy and Balance

Changing the Planes

Finding the Goddess

Pranyama in the Pool

Not in Austin?  To find an aqua yoga class near you, check out Aqua Kriya Yoga’s class listings nationwide.  There are now classes in many states, and it’s going international!  Come see why so many people find their mind-body bliss with the combination of water and yoga.


It’s May again already?

Last Fall, I made the conscious decision to stop posting here at onbalance, in an effort to free up some time for my family and my personal fitness training.  The irony is that I was doing a lot of long distance running, and it is on these runs that I get my best ideas for blog posts and other fitness tidbits to share.  I’ve been keeping a list of these ideas, have repopulated by blog posting calendar, and am going to be here every Monday and Thursday throughout the summer….just in time to keep you from flagging while the weather is hot and the kids are out of school.


As usual, May means I’m  in the midst of my busy season teaching swim lessons.  I love working with children and teaching them water safety and the joy of being in the water.  Seeing the neuromuscular connections take place, the mechanics improve, and the body moving successfully across the water never fails to excite me.  And to see the kids’ confidence explode with this success is the cherry on top.


In an unusual turn, we’re having a way wetter and colder than normal May here in Austin, so my Aqua Kriya Yoga classes are off to s slow start.  We’re meeting this year on WEDNESDAY evenings, 6.30-7.30, in Central Austin.  (NOTE:  This week only, class is on Thursday 5/21 instead.)  Leave me a comment or drop me an email at karen @ balancepft dot com if you’d like more information.  Not in Austin but curious about aqua yoga?  Check out some FAQs I’ve answered.


Business-wise, I’m continuing to add new offerings to better support my clients on their fitness journey.  This year, I’m excited to be able to grow my Personal Training base.   I’m looking ahead to August, when all three of my kids are in school five-days-a-week; this means I’ll be able to see more clients even more regularly.  Walking with people as they develop new healthy behaviors is so rewarding.  Please do let me know if you’d like some support and direction for  your own wellness.  Not in Austin?  I can support you through virtual training, too!


In April I finished my certification to become a Prenatal Kriya Yoga instructor.  I’m spending some time this summer thinking about the best way I can reach out to and serve pregnant women with this soul and body nourishing practice.  Stay tuned!


My upcoming fitness goals are, once again, running focused.  In the short term, I’m looking forward to running Beach to Beacon in Maine this August.  Like two years ago when I ran Falmouth Road Race, toeing the line at B2B allows me to participate in one of the classic American summer road races.  It’s in the hometown of American distance running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson, who sparked my mind as a 10-year-old girl when she won the 1984 Olympic Marathon.  Longer term, my dad and I are cooking up a plan to go to South Africa next May to participate in Comrades Marathon, a 90K ultramarathon that is considered “The Ultimate Human Race.”  Again, stay tuned!  I’m going to need your support!

Good health and great happiness to you!

Aqua Yoga: FAQs Answered


This post is the second in a weekly series regarding water and wellness.

It was nearly a year ago that I became certified to teach Aqua Kriya Yoga, and at that time I really didn’t have any idea what I was getting in to.  A year later, I’m pleased to say that I’ve gotten more out of aqua yoga– both personally and professionally– than any other aspect of my fitness business.  But there are a lot of questions folks ask about aqua yoga, so I thought I’d answer some of them here.

I had a knee replacement/vertigo/back surgery.  I can’t do yoga anymore.  Can I do Aqua Yoga?

Yes!  The water is the perfect environment for you to get reacquainted with your yoga practice.   Instructors are trained to modify postures for individual’s particular body needs.  The water allows you to attempt postures with confidence that you would not try on land.  The worst thing that happens is you get wet!

I’m a guy.  Will I be the only guy there?

Maybe.  But you won’t be the first guy to do Aqua Yoga.  You’ll just be smarter than the other guys who won’t try it.

Is this one of those classes that’s really only for old people and pregnant women?

No!  Aqua Yoga is a fantastic practice for anyone who is interested in improving their breath, their flexibility, and their focus.  Any person of any fitness level can improve her wellness through aqua yoga.

If it’s in the water, that must mean Aqua Yoga is really easy?

Ummm…not so much!  The challenges of the buoyancy of the water plus the instability created by the wind (if practicing outdoors) and other people practicing near you and moving the water adds elements to yoga postures that you don’t encounter in a mat class.

What’s the “Kriya” in Aqua Kriya Yoga all about?

Kriya is a volitional, intentional approach to yoga that is suited for anyone involved in everyday “real life.”  It is meant to encourage self-awareness within one’s current life, not in some ideal state separate from the responsibilities and relationships that make up life’s fabric.  In this way, I find the approach to yoga one well-suited for people who have no yoga background.

How do I become certified to teach Aqua Kriya Yoga?

Check out the Aqua Kriya Yoga website for all of their current offerings.  If there isn’t a training offered near you, email Nancy or Camella and let them know you’re interested.


Do you have another question I haven’t covered here?  Leave it in the comments, and I’ll answer right away!

See you off the mat and in the pool!

I offer Aqua Yoga classes in my Austin, TX backyard saltwater pool.  Classes are on Thursday evenings, 6.30-7.30pm through June, $10/class.  Email me at karen at balancepft.com if you have questions or would like a place in the pool!

Twenty-Minute Time Out

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It’s been a busy March.

My family had a fantastic Spring Break vacation to London, where we visited lots of old friends, played in our favorite parks, explored several museums, and rode all manner of public transportation.  We were spoiled by gorgeous weather– sunny and high 60s– which meant we were able to spend hours each day outside enjoying the city.

Our reentry to reality has been a bit rough.  I’m grateful that all three of my kids were such flexible, happy travellers, but jet-lag hit my three-year-old Stowaway pretty hard.  We’ve had a week of not-so-pleasant behavior, with added Mama-clinginess thrown in for good measure.  I’m not going to lie to you: it’s been exhausting for both of us.

Add in that I opened registrations for my swim lessons on Monday, and I’m in full prep mode for next Monday’s kickoff of Balance Virtual Bootcamp.  I’m back to seeing my full slate of personal training clients.  And there are the other two delightful children who also deserve my attention and interest in their soccer games, piano practice, and choir concerts.  So, yeah, it’s been a busy month.

I’m working hard to keep my sense of balance– I calendar my own workouts and ensure that I get at least 20 minutes of quiet time each day.  That time may come during a run or doing something glamorous like grocery shopping, but I know that I need the alone time to breathe deeply.  On days I’d like some chit-chat, I’ll walk to my neighborhood bakery and enjoy a decaf, non-fat latte (what one local joint calls a “no fun”).  I always run in to someone I know there, and having just a few minutes of “water-cooler talk” helps me feel connected to other people in my community.  It’s never a long experience, but giving myself a few minutes every day where I can drop the mantle of being responsible for everyone else is rejuvenating.

What’s your favorite way to recharge?

Good health and great happiness to you!



It’s not too late for you bloggers and fitness enthusiasts to help spread the word about Balance Virtual Bootcamp in exchange for a free registration.  Leave a comment or shoot an email to karen at balancepft dot com to see how we can work together. 



Spring Has Sprung


Today was the first day of swimming lesson registration, which is as sure a sign of Spring around these parts as the bluebonnets popping up all over.  I’m honored by the positive response I’ve received already– working with children (and adults!) as they learn the essential skill of swimming is such a thrill.  I can’t wait for it to warm up just a bit more and get in the pool.

Check out my website for the lowdown on my private and semi-private swim lessons.  You can always shoot me an email (karen at balancepft dot com) if you want to register or ask questions.

As I mentioned last week, registration is also now open for the Spring 2014 offering of Balance Virtual Bootcamp.  If you’re looking for a way to fit efficient, effective exercise into your busy life, this bootcamp delivers.   Three times a week for eight weeks, a workout arrives to your inbox.  In just 30 minutes per session, you can gain strength, improve your cardiovascular fitness, and improve body confidence knowing that you’re doing something healthy for yourself.

Are you a blogger or fitness trainer?  Interested in promoting Balance Virtual Bootcamp in exchange for a free registration—either for you or to give away on your blog?  Shoot me an email or leave a comment, and we’ll see how we can work together.

The excitement of Spring is invigorating.  Hope you’re feeling it, too!

The Search for Something New


I wrote last week about some challenges I’ve faced this winter keeping my training on track.  I’ve really been missing my regular runs.  Because I’ve been limited to working out indoors (which is NOT my preference!), I’ve been doing the Balance Virtual Bootcamp workouts.  They have reminded me that having more structured strength-training in my overall workout plan is a good thing.  But even though I design the workouts myself and know that they are both efficient and effective, I can also admit that this isn’t my favorite format for exercise for me.  Sure, it gets the job done, but it doesn’t give me the same mental boost that I get from running or working out with a group.

A few years ago, I went to some pilates classes at a local gym, and I really liked them.  This is unusual for me, as I normally find myself staring at the clock every two minutes or so.  Remembering that I thought the instructors were quite good (also unusual, in my experience), I decided to go back.  I’ve been going to pilates two times a week for the last few weeks, and I’m really enjoying it.  I think it dovetails nicely with the more regular yoga practice I’ve cultivated since starting the Prenatal Kriya Yoga teacher training course last fall—I’m really feeling a shift in my focus that allows me to tune in to my alignment, breath, and whole body.

I’ve been through enough phases of my life and worked with enough people who struggle to find exercise they enjoy to know two things:

1)      There IS something out there for you.  Keep looking for it!  If you hate to run, DON’T RUN!  If you don’t want to spend much time exercising, BE READY TO SWEAT AND WORK HARD.  If you think you’ve tried everything and still don’t love anything, ask your friends (or crowdsource your Facebook friends) what their favorite type of exercise is.  Certainly you’ll learn something new.

2)      Don’t feel like you have to do the same thing forever.  It’s perfectly okay to have exercise ADD.  Want to train and run a 5K in a few months and then not run at all during the summer?  Fine!  Want to take an 8-week intensive flying trapeze course, but that’s all you can afford?  No problem!  So long as you do something consistently, it doesn’t really matter what it is.  Just keep moving!

And always keep in mind that this whole process is more about the journey than the destination.  Enjoy what you’re doing while you’re doing it, and when you’re ready to make a change, embrace the opportunity to try something new.  It’s such a gift.

Good health and great happiness to you!

PS- What’s the weirdest type of exercise you’ve tried and loved?  It just may be what someone else is looking for!

Water at the Source

To an outsider, it was an unlikely stop on my recent trip to the Bay Area: The Southwest YMCA in Saratoga, CA.

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But I went with purpose, to go to the source of the Aqua Kriya Yoga movement that infused so much meaning into my life and work last year.  This is where Camella Nair, swami in the Kriya lineage and the guru of Aqua Yoga, took yoga off the mat and opened up the practice to people in the pool.

Although Camella was on holiday during my visit, I took a class taught by one of the first people Camella trained to teach aqua yoga.  Rosie is a 60-something woman who has suffered from fibromyalgia, and taking Camella’s aqua yoga classes gave her a rejuvenated body.  I had heard Rosie’s story during my own Aqua Kriya Yoga teaching certification course, and it was a joy to meet her in person.

Rosie led a 50-minute class that was both relaxing and invigorating.  We did a series of planks and twists, and it felt wonderful to energize my spine.  Rosie used some of Camella’s favorite phrases that I’ve also adopted for my teaching; it made me feel like part of a community of teachers that is infused with a rare but valuable positivism.  Taking the time to breathe deeply throughout the class and during floating savasana was just what I needed. Both my body and my mind knew it was such a treat to be the student for a change!

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I was also fortunate enough to finally meet in person Nancy Britton, Camella’s office manager.  Nancy and I have been exchanging a lot of emails as I’ve been (slowly) progressing through the Prenatal Kriya Yoga Teacher Training home certification course.  Nancy is radiant– her passion for supporting Camella’s work and the desire to bring about more goodness in the world is evident.  We had a lovely conversation easily meandering from personal philosophies to business practices.  I look forward to seeing her again at my summation retreat later this year.

If you’re interested in spending time basking in the positive energy of Camella and Nancy, treat yourself to their upcoming yoga retreat in Mazatlan!  I can’t make it this year, but I can only imagine the excellent quality of instruction, superior companionship, and full sense of contentment and peace those who attend will enjoy.

I am grateful for the friendship and support of Camella, Nancy, and Rosie– and the whole Aqua Kriya Yoga community.  You women make my job no work and all play.