Follow along with the transcript below for episode: Discovering Your Fall Yoga Practice With Kassandra Reinhardt
[00:00:02] PF: Thank you for joining us for episode 384 of Live Happy Now. Now that we’ve officially entered fall, it’s a great time to turn inward. I’m your host, Paula Felps, and this week I’m talking with author and yoga instructor Kassandra Reinhardt, whose Yoga with Kassandra YouTube channel has attracted more than 1.9 million subscribers and amassed more than 190 million views. Wow. That’s because Kassandra is on a mission to help people connect with themselves through yoga in whatever way most appeals to them. With her new book, Year of Yoga: Rituals for Every Day and Every Season, she helps experienced and novice yogis alike move through the seasons, using affirmations and intentions that coincide with the time of the year. Let’s hear more.
[00:00:50] PF: Kassandra, welcome to Live Happy Now.
[00:00:53] KR: Thank you so much for having me.
[00:00:55] PF: Well, it’s Yoga Month, and you’re such a great evangelist for yoga. So I want to hear a little bit about your backstory. Like, first of all, why are you so passionate about sharing it with others?
[00:01:06] KR: Well, it’s good question. I kind of just stumbled into it. I came from the world of dance. That’s really what I did growing up. That was my big passion. I love doing ballet and all of that. When I was about, I think, around 18 or 19 years old, someone recommended to me, a friend recommended, maybe I should try a yoga class. I had never been to one before. Even though I was dancing a lot, I was actually not very flexible. That’s always been something I’ve struggled with. So they thought, “Try yoga. Maybe you’ll get more flexible.”
I went and I thought it was okay, like I had a good time. It was nice, but I didn’t fall in love with it or anything right away. But I guess there must have been something to it because I kept going to classes irregularly. After doing it for, I don’t know, maybe three to six months into it, I found a style of yoga that I really liked, and I found a teacher I really resonated with. Then that’s really when I started to really dive deep into the practice and fall in love with it and really recognize everything that it had to offer.
Of course, at that time, I wasn’t even thinking about being a yoga teacher. That would come quite further down the line. I really loved how it gave me a way to move my body. But it was also much deeper than that. It gave me a real sense of spiritual connection, a great way to connect to my mental health, emotional health. A few years later, I decided to get certified, and I really didn’t hesitate. I was always eager to teach, always eager to get out there and spread the word. Yeah. Here I am many, many years.
[00:02:50] PF: You’re spreading it on our grand scale.
[00:02:53] KR: Yes, yes.
[00:02:55] PF: There’s so many different reasons that people get into yoga. Some people want to be more flexible, like you talk about. Some want to get in touch with their spirituality. Some just want a better butt. So how do you meet each person where they’re at on their journey? Then, okay, two-part question, how do you meet them where they’re at and then do those other components? Say you’re going into it for one thing. Are those other components going to enter into that practice, even though you’re not seeking them?
[00:03:21] KR: Yeah. I mean, I think people will take what they need, and they’ll leave the rest. As is the case with a lot of other healing modalities and even just forms of movement or anything that has to do with the wellness space, not everything is going to resonate with everyone. That’s the same for me even. Although I’m a teacher of yoga, I am, first and foremost, a student of yoga. That means that I will connect with some teachings and with others not so much. I will resonate with some instructors and others not quite.
So I just tried to teach in a way that is authentic to me, without trying to be someone that I’m not. I do try to meet them where they’re at, in the sense that I’m not too heavily focused on one aspect more than the other. I really like to give people the opportunity to find things out for themselves. I think yoga is a really beautiful practice of deep inner connection and has great potential for personal transformation.
[00:04:20] PF: Sometimes, it’s just a case of after you’ve received one gift from yoga, and you then just keep opening that door a little bit wider and wider.
[00:04:28] KR: Exactly. Yeah, exactly.
[00:04:31] PF: So you incorporate breathing and meditation into your teaching, which is just phenomenal. How important have you found that to be as part of your yoga practice? Because we know not everyone does. How important is that to you?
[00:04:45] KR: I found that it has varied throughout my life. Like there are certain phases and seasons of my life where I am relying primarily, I would say, on my meditation practice and physical poses. The asana kind of falls off to the side. Alternatively, there will be other seasons of my life where I need the physical movement more than I need the stillness of meditation.
Breath work also enters the mix, where there are some times where it feels like it is all I can do and also all that I need. So I try to be very flexible and to meet myself where I am and to really honor what it is that I need at this time. There’s a lot to be said about discipline and about simply committing to structure. But I find that if I get too narrowly focused on discipline, I end up just putting pressure and expectation on myself. It completely sucks the joy out of the practice, and it kind of negates the purpose of the practice.
In practice, I’m try to connect with myself. I’m trying to feel good physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. So that means that some days, I need something that tomorrow I’ll need something completely different. So it really, really varies for me. It really does. But I mean, the great thing about breath work is like it’s impossible to do anything without breathing so –
[00:06:13] PF: I think that’s true.
[00:06:14] KR: Hard to avoid. Whether you like it or not, you will have to be mindful of the way that you breathe when you are moving on your yoga mat. There’s really no way to avoid it. It is the pathway to being present in the now and to really tuning in with how you’re feeling. So thankfully, that one is pretty constant.
[00:06:34] PF: You’ve got the basics down. You just know how –
[00:06:36] KR: Right.
[00:06:37] PF: You’ve been doing this. So you also have created this incredible library on YouTube, and you have so many resources for people. They can start really anywhere they want to start. How do you recommend that they go about finding something that’s going to work for them?
[00:06:55] KR: Yoga is tricky, especially in this day and age, because it can mean so many different things. This is also one of the great gifts of yoga is that there are so many styles of yoga and so many teachers who are presenting the practice with their own personality, their own perspective and lived experience. So this can actually make it a little bit hard for people because maybe you went to a local studio, you tried a yoga class, and you didn’t like it. You might, “Well, yoga just isn’t for me.” But actually, it might just be that that teacher is not for you or that particular style of yoga is not the right fit for what you need at this time.
We are lucky that we have a lot of free resources online with sites like YouTube where I primarily teach. So for people who are interested in the practice but maybe find it a little bit daunting or maybe they’ve tried it before and for some reason or another it just didn’t really click, I think you can use the Internet to your advantage by trying a variety of classes online and maybe just try a 20-minute yoga class. You don’t need to commit to these huge 90-minute practices starting out. You really need to try it out.
I mean, even for me, like I said, when I started by practicing, I didn’t fall in love with it. It took me a good six months of experimenting with different styles and different teachers before I really found the connection that has now guided me 14 years later. So if people can be just a little bit patient and really tap into their curiosity, they might be pleasantly surprised with what they find.
[00:08:42] PF: Yeah. One thing that we’ve been talking about a lot on the show lately is how stressed and anxious people are feeling right now because anxiety is such high level. So let’s talk about how yoga can be used to help with emotional healing, how it can help people who are feeling stressed.
[00:09:00] KR: Yeah, for sure. So I primarily practice and teach two different styles of yoga. One is called Vinyasa yoga, and the other is called Yin yoga. Vinyasa is a little bit more dynamic in its essence. So physically, you’re going to be moving in and out of poses, flowing them with your breath. It’s a more activating style of yoga, a beautiful, beautiful practice, can be a little bit more energizing in nature.
Then I also practice and teach the style called Yin Yoga. As someone who has spent a long time suffering from anxiety or living with anxiety, as well as insomnia, Yin yoga was really that pivotal point in my life that really things started to click, and this is where yoga became more than just a physical practice for me, and it really shifted things.
So Yin yoga is a passive style of yoga where we hold poses for an extended period of time. So you are primarily either sitting or lying down. You’re not using any strength or any effort, and you’re holding poses for three to five minutes. So it’s wonderful for your joints, for your ligaments, connective tissues. Great for flexibility. But more than anything, there is a great challenge that comes with just doing the same thing for three to five minutes.
[00:10:24] PF: Oh, my gosh. Yeah.
[00:10:26] KR: It’s tough. Like it is tough. People think, “Oh, I’m just going to be laying down. I’m just going to be sitting, easy-peasy.” No. I mean, maybe for some it will be. But for me, it was an extremely triggering and confronting style. But it is exactly what I needed. I found that as an anxious person, I always felt like, “Oh, I’ll feel better if I go for a run, if I do a really big workout, if I tire myself out with like this power yoga class or Vinyasa yoga class.” But really, all I was doing was exhausting myself. I wasn’t actually processing anything because it was a lot easier for me to stay distracted by just kind of flinging my body back and forth to one another, whereas with Yin yoga, there’s nowhere to go but in.
As you’re in a yoga pose for an extended period of time, you’re slowly releasing physical tension from your body, and this makes it a lot easier to access emotional and mental tension that you might have been holding on to. So it’s not uncommon for people who practice in yoga to have some kind of emotional release, and this can be feelings of anger. This can be feelings of sadness. They might burst into laughter. It’s very common if it happens. You’re totally fine. It’s very normal, and it’s normal if you don’t experience any of that.
But for me, when it came to stress and anxiety, Yin practices where I had no choice but to slow down and to really face myself in a really profound and deep way, that’s where I found the most amount of healing.
[00:12:09] PF: Sometimes, you might not know what it is that’s coming out. It’s just an emotion.
[00:12:14] KR: That’s right. Yeah, that’s right.
[00:12:16] PF: Because I remember I had an instructor once who talked about when she was taking her training, and they would teach that the camel pose is a very vulnerable position, and people often get emotional during that. She was like, “I’ve never had that experience.” So she was actually teaching a class one time and has no idea what came over her but just burst into tears and –
[00:12:36] KR: That’s exactly right. Yeah.
[00:12:37] PF: Yeah. So it’s like, yeah, people do need to know that you might not even know what it’s about. You’re healing something.
[00:12:46] KR: That insight might come to you later on maybe as you’re leaving the studio, maybe a few days, a few weeks, a few years later. You’ll start to piece things together. But sometimes, it’s really just there’s something stuck and something about the way that you were giving yourself permission to slow down, to feel, to tune in, to check in, allowed for this emotional release to happen.
So there can be a little bit of pressure, I think, also around emotional releases. I’ve heard students who say, “Well, I’ve never experienced anything like that. Is something wrong with me?” You’re not. If you’ve never cried in a yoga class, like don’t worry. That’s totally fine. You don’t have to have some big experience for your experience to be valid.
I just like to talk about it because I think it can take people – It can catch them off guard if it happens, if you’re finding yourself just struggling, and you don’t know what the heck is going on. It happens. Because of language, we separate things a lot. I have my physical health. I have my mental health. I have my emotional health. We have these labels that keep them separated. But really, it’s all like this one big soup of who you are.
[00:13:56] PF: Exactly. Yeah. The wonder of this journey is you just keep unwinding and unpeeling the onion, getting to that next layer. With yoga, you can just keep going deeper.
[00:14:07] KR: Absolutely. It’s never done. You’re never ever done. I will always be a student of yoga before I am a teacher.
[00:14:13] PF: Let’s talk about how people can learn to incorporate yoga into their daily lives. Because as you said, it doesn’t have to be this 90-minute experience. How do we make time for it, and how do we work it in?
[00:14:25] KR: Yeah, absolutely. Listen. For some people, if the really long sessions are you know what gets you motivated and help you stay consistent, that’s absolutely wonderful. If you’re someone who maybe has a hard time committing to something, I prefer a bite-sized approached. Again, I enjoy discipline. I have to have a very careful relationship with it because if I’m too rigid, then I put pressure and expectation on myself. Then it leaves room for shame, judgment, and guilt to enter, and I don’t want that.
You want your yoga practice to be something that is meaningful to you, and that can, hopefully, bring you a sense of peace and introspection and healing. So I am a big fan of recommending to people, use the Internet. The Internet is your friend right now. You can start with just a 10-minute morning yoga class and see how you feel.
There’s something really beautiful about taking just a little bit of time to yourself in the morning to not only check in physically with how your body’s feeling and what you think you’re going to need to be comfortable throughout your day and to be energized. But beyond that, there’s something really powerful with actually taking a few minutes to ask yourself, “What do I want out of this day? What is important to me? What is my intention today?”
So a lot of people know me for my 10-minute morning yoga classes, and I think that’s wonderful. The one thing that I stress the most in those classes is that we set an intention for the day ahead, just by choosing one word. We really don’t need to reinvent the wheel or to complicate our lives more than they already are. It’s very simple. You can move and breathe and be very mindful for 10 minutes. By the end of that time, that we’ve flowed together, really taking a second to ask yourself, “What is my one-word intention for the day? How do I want to feel?”
Especially if you’re someone who spends a lot of your day caring for others, having a high output, really tending outwards, it’s nice if you can at least have a little bit of moment to just have a little bit of time to just remember that you are your own person and like you are the one who has to live through this life. Like what is it that you want to do? It’s so simple. 10 minutes a day, every day, you’d be surprised how much you can actually do and how big of an impact it can actually have on your life.
[00:17:01] PF: I wanted to ask you about the setting intention because what kind of a difference does it make when you go into a practice setting an intention and go through your day then that way, versus when you just do your 10 minutes, 15 minutes of yoga?
[00:17:16] KR: Oh, man. I can remember when I was teaching at a studio class. Studio classes, for the most part, they’re usually like 60 minutes. So I’d be teaching this group of people for an hour long. By the time we’re in shavasana, we’re doing our closing meditation, everyone looks so connected and so at peace. Then I’d see them rush off.
[00:17:41] PF: Yeah. Okay, that’s –
[00:17:42] KR: In the locker room. It would take 10 seconds for the mood to shift and for them to already be back. They’re in traffic. They’re honking their car. You know, honking their car. It’s like, “What have we been practicing for? Like how can we take this beautiful work that we’ve done on a yoga mat? How can we take it out into the world?”
That’s a big conversation. That’s a big topic. That’s big in scope. So I was like, an intention is one way that we can actually begin that process of like, okay, all this work that you’ve done on your yoga mat, like don’t leave it when you close the door and get impatient at the checkout line. So I was like, just choose an intention.
For me, that was the simplest way to get people to say like, “Listen, it’s not over. I want your goal to continue throughout the day. This is not a yoga practice. This is not something that is confined to the four corners of your mat. It shows the way that you show up in the world. How do you treat others? How do you treat yourself? How do you stay mindful and present, even when things are totally chaotic and out of your control?” So that was always – I would kind of just want to bang my head against the wall. I was like, “No, you were so calm 10 minutes ago. What happened?”
[00:19:04] PF: That’s so true. Yeah, yeah. That’s very true. You have a book, Year of Yoga, and this is so great for people who want to implement yoga into a daily practice. Can you tell us what that book is about and what we can gain from it?
[00:19:19] KR: Yeah, absolutely. So the book is called Year of Yoga, and we’ve separated it into the four seasons. So it’s meant to be a book that you can carry through with you throughout the year, throughout the many years of your life as a way to help you connect and align your practice and yourself with the natural rhythms, with nature’s rhythms.
This is a way that I like to practice, in the same way that I like to do a more energizing practice in the morning and something more restorative at night, the same way that I like to have something more energizing around the full moon and whereas the time of the New Moon is a time of slow and introspection. The same kind of applies with the seasons for me. I find a lot of healing and a lot of connection by doing it in this way.
It’s also like this really beautiful permission slip that reminds us that not every day, every week, every month, every year is meant to be this crazy, abundant, energetic, productive output time. We need these periods of rest, these periods of stillness in order to fill our cups and really show up and begin the cycle again.
So Year of Yoga for me was a way to like give people that permission slip to be like, “It’s okay if you’re doing things a little slower, if you’re moving a little slower, and it’s okay if you want to make the most of this vibrant energy that you have.” So we separated it into the four seasons. Within the book, there are like five yoga sequences per season, as well as a meditation. There are some affirmations and a whole bunch of other goodies that can really help support you into really figuring out how best you can align your yoga practice with the natural rhythms around us.
[00:21:17] PF: That’s excellent. Now, as we move into fall, what sequences and what affirmations should we be focusing on?
[00:21:24] KR: So fall symbolically and thematically is associated with letting go. So if you think about it, fall is the time where the trees are shedding their leaves. They’re letting go of what no longer serves them in order to prepare for a period of deep rest so that they may begin and renew once more in the spring and bloom in the summer.
So fall, we’re really dealing with asking ourselves, what is actually important to me and what is just weighing me down? What is time for me to drop, to let go of so that I can focus on the essence and really refine? A lot of us, I think, do maybe set New Year’s intentions or New Year’s goals. Or we’ll really like craft and dream up of what it is that we want around the time of New Year’s.
I always find that around September or October. It’s kind of go time. I’m really like, “Okay, where am I at? What is actually important to me, and what’s just fluff? What is just excess?” So in terms of like practices, I tend to do a lot of hip openers because, again, I’m focusing on releasing tension from my body, releasing what no longer serves me, and trying to cultivate a little bit of a sense of balance.
I mean, I love affirmations. I’ve always been a deep lover of affirmations. I was such a big fan of Louise Hay. She passed not long ago, but I’ve always admired her. So if I’m just thinking now like affirmations that I would use for fall, it might be I am good enough exactly as I am. Or I easily handle whatever comes my way. I release all worries. Tomorrow is a new day. Or I release all physical, emotional, and mental tension. That could be a really great one.
[00:23:27] PF: That is excellent. People have so much going on right now, and just having that kind of guidance to take us into the fall is such a great perspective. I really appreciate you sitting down with us today. We’re going to tell the listeners how they can find you, learn more about you, find your Year of Yoga book. But as we let you go, what is the one thing that you really hope everyone takes away from listening to you today?
[00:23:50] KR: That yoga does not have to be complicated or overly strenuous to be effective.
[00:23:58] PF: Very good. Kassandra, thank you again for sharing your time and your wisdom with us today.
[00:24:03] KR: Thank you so much for having me.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:24:09] PF: That was author and yoga instructor, Kassandra Reinhardt, talking about how we can use yoga as we move into the fall season. If you’d like to learn more about Kassandra, follow her on YouTube or discover her books, visit our website at livehappy.com and click on the podcast tab.
Right now, in the Live Happy Store, we are promoting happy reading. I’d like to invite you to visit us at store.livehappy.com and check out our popular book, Live Happy: Ten Practices for Choosing Joy. It is a great way to learn about some of our favorite practices and make them your own.
That is all we have time for today. We’ll meet you back here again next week for an all-new episode. Until then, this is Paula Felps, reminding you to make every day a happy one.