Tuesday Teacher Talk: Kristi Robbins
We sat down with one of our wisest teachers Kristi Robbins for our weekly Tuesday Teacher Talk to get her take on yoga, teaching and life.
When did you start working for Yoga 4 Change?
My first Yoga 4 Change class was last October and have been teaching at Youth Crisis Center every Wednesday since. I’m very proud of my class at YCC. Youth Crisis Center is a non-profit shelter for at-risk teens, with families in crisis. I had a very rough childhood and was a client at YCC’s residential shelter 13 different times as a teenager. I have been an advocate for them for as long as I can remember and am also on their Board of Directors. I have the absolute honor of being able to sit in a room with the girls each week and tell them that I know exactly how they feel because I was in their same position many times. Then the magic happens and we do yoga together.
What inspired to become a yoga teacher?
10 years ago I discovered yoga as a way to relieve the stress of everyday life. For a while I just showed up for classes, did my best and went home afterwards. I didn’t know why, but when I practiced yoga I felt amazing. My body felt fantastic and my mind felt clear, calm and centered. For some reason, I felt like yoga helped me be the truest and best version of myself. My passion for yoga grew and as I became interested in advancing my physical practice, I also started looking into the history and philosophy of yoga teachings. The physical aspect of yoga (the postures that we do in class) is only 1/8th of the true work that yogis do. I love how the teachings of yoga are basically an instruction guide for how to live an amazing and happy life. Doing yoga made me feel like I was good at something, like I was part of something bigger than myself; something that helped make the world better. Yoga makes me feel like I belong. To answer your question, I didn’t mean to become a yoga teacher. It was more of a daydream that came true… like when you imagine what it might be like if you won the lottery and could do what you love for work. I used to do that! I used to fantasize about a life where I would quit my stressful job in advertising sales and be a stay at home mom that baked brownies and taught yoga. About 5 years ago I found an amazing teacher who inspired me to further my personal practice and get my teaching certification in 2012. I left my career after having twins, 2 years ago and kind of fell into this teaching gig with Yoga 4 Change. I still haven’t figured out how to bake brownies though.
Why did you choose to work with Yoga 4 Change?
I have been friends with Dawn Clapp, Director of Operations for Yoga 4 Change since we were teenagers. I remember feeling so inspired after hearing what the female inmates would say to her after she finished teaching them yoga each week. The hope and changes that she was inspiring in their lives was something real and important that I wanted to be a part of. THIS was exactly where my yoga journey brought me for a reason.
Share with us a funny, sad, interesting, or memorable story about your teaching.
I teach yoga to inner city kids and at-risk teenagers. The kids that I teach have rough backgrounds and very often painful family situations. They don’t have the self-awareness to really explain to me how yoga has affected them. At one of the facilities I teach at, I see them every week and they show up, smile, crack jokes, we do yoga, I ask them to be quiet and lay silently while we do “final relaxation pose”, then they go about their day. This happens week after week. I know that when you are working with kids, it’s not about seeing an instant change that you can measure right away, instead it’s about planting the seeds that will grow throughout their lifetime. During yoga, I teach important messages like kindness, forgiveness and gratitude and hope that they are getting through to them. I hope that the joy that I share with them is received. I hope that when I tell them it was an honor to teach them yoga, that it makes them feel special. I hope that they don’t have to feel the way I felt when I was their age. After teaching at a school for a few months, I bumped into the principal one day and I asked him what he and the other teachers thought about Yoga 4 Change. He told me that they have seen a drastic change in the students who are part of our program. The kids who used to get angry and punch holes in walls now know how to take a deep breath first instead of exploding. They have better control over their emotions, they fight less, get disciplined less, have better attention spans, and can focus on their schoolwork better. He told me about how some of the teachers have incorporated yoga into their classrooms to help give the kids “brain breaks”. He also shared that when he went to the annual educational conference, all of the other schools were jealous that he had a yoga program at his school and they didn’t. They are all dying to have someone come to their school and teach the kids yoga. It’s so rewarding to see that the work we are doing is making a difference in these children’s lives.
What is your favorite drink?
Starbucks Skinny Mocha Latte.
Can you name one thing Yoga has helped you get through?
Parenting and the daily struggle of being a mom to almost 2 year old twins. I was the best mother in the world until I had my own kids.
What’s your favorite yoga pose and why?
My favorite pose is Natarajasana or Lord of the Dance. It’s fun to play around with and looks pretty. Lately I’ve been changing it up a bit and have started working on going deeper in my backbends with Ustrasana/Camel pose.
Cat or Cow?
BOTH! My kids love when I do these at home and they Meow and Moo with me. Their favorite pose is 3 legged dog. Our cats’ favorite pose is savasana.
How can yoga help people change their lives?
Yoga helps me create the life that I want to live. Through focusing on my breath and being mindful, I am able to create stillness and space in my mind. This helps me think more clearly, act more calmly and have the awareness to choose my attitude, thoughts and actions. Through the teachings of yoga, I am given the tools to be the best version of myself.
Why should people support Yoga 4 Change?
Have you ever heard the saying “Somebody ought to do something about that”? Yoga 4 Change is made up entirely of those SOMEBODY’S and we want to make the world a better place by teaching yoga to those in need, starting right here in your own community. We are passionate about offering the gift of yoga to people who truly need it, can’t afford it and wouldn’t otherwise have the means to attend a yoga class. Yoga 4 Change’s mission is to promote healthy living and foster self-confidence among veterans, inmates, at-risk youth and those suffering from substance abuse through the teachings and practices of Yoga. We teach The Value of Gratitude, The Beauty of Self-Acceptance, Withstanding Peer Pressure, Anti-Bullying Expectations, The Power of Forgiveness and How to Embrace Vulnerability. What’s more awesome than that?
Kristi discovered the healing power of yoga more than 10 years ago. Originally, she came to yoga to cope with the stress and anxiety of having a demanding career in our fast paced, modern-day society. As her practice and love for yoga deepened, she found the harmony and balance she was seeking. External things seemed less important and her quest for finding the path to happiness continued as it led her to a 200hr yoga teacher training in 2012.
Kristi is very passionate about sharing her joy for life and positive attitude with others. She is able to use her troubled childhood experiences as a way to relate to others and has volunteered as a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida since 2010. In addition, she is on the Board of Directors at Youth Crisis Center and also teaches yoga to the teenage girls at the center every week. To be able to connect with and inspire the girls is truly a reward and a gift to Kristi.