Leaning In

Contributed by Krista Basis, E-RYT 200


I’ve been teaching Yoga since 2002. Wow. 13 years. I’ve owned three yoga studios. And most recently started to teach barre at my little cozy space called The Yoga Barre in Washougal Washington.

When I first started teaching barre, I thought “How can I possibly teach both yoga and barre? They have nothing to do with one another. One is spiritual. The other is pure fitness.  What the hell am I doing?”

In reconciling my feelings about teaching both modalities, I realized that I was a part of my beautiful community, and essentially we are all just trying to take care of ourselves. We are sharing stories, connecting, and helping others by just being there. This reminds me that we don’t have to pigeon hole ourselves to being one particular stereotype.  We can love what we do, be proud of what we love to do, and calmly detach from our own preconceived notions about being what we THINK we should be. As we all know it’s a lonely and never satisfying space to be in. Ditch the glitch!

The long and short of it is that I love people. I love to see people take care of themselves. I love to see people thrive. I have always been public service oriented (I spent my early 20’s volunteering and working for the Peace Corps & Avon Walk for Breast Cancer).  I’ve worked waitressing jobs, cleaning hotel rooms, making ice cream cakes for birthday parties. I’m a Usui Reiki Master and Tarot Card lover (and occasional reader with a glass of red wine). If people need taking care, I want in. And the fact of the matter is that’s not changing.  My job in life is to connect with people.

How do you practice Mindfulness?

At home: It’s HARD! There are a lot of distractions at my house. I try to squeeze in my meditation time right before I go to sleep at night. I usually play Yoga Nidra audio clips from Amazon Music (my current favorite is Yoga Nidra II – Yoga Nidra Practice with Healing Sounds by Robin Carnes)

I also try, and fail more times then I like to acknowledge, to turn off all technology and spend time with my husband, child, furry children by talking, hugging, and trying to stay present.  Walking my dog is a joyful part of my mindfulness practice.

At work: No matter who shows up or whatever mood they are in….I try to be present for them. I make space for them- to get what they need and to shake loose. I am supportive, as best I can. Do I let people walk over me? Nope. That is not real Metta (practice of loving kindness). If my students come in being flustered, slightly rude, annoyed, etc. I try to be light hearted and kind. Does it work all the time? Surprisingly, yes, it does. They walk out in a better mood or note that even if they were a jackass…..the light in me honors that sometime prickly person I am as well.  It helps me to meditate on the “All One” messy human show. It’s a good reminder that we need some compassion now and then, especially when we are the little stinkers.

In  my community: I try to help or give when I can. I stay aware and present. If I see that someone needs help – maybe a senior who cannot carry their groceries – or someone homeless at a highway ramp, I offer my support, I give money. I also volunteer at my daughter’s school washing dishes every Thursday. I would love to be Mother Teresa-ing it all the time…. I help when I can and know that I make a difference in my own way every day. I’m enough.  

Why do you do what you do?

This question makes me laugh. Not sure why, but I question it a lot!  I am not sure why I do what I do!?! Logically, I would have a lot more stability working a “regular” 9-5 job with a 401K. And, honest to goodness, maybe I would not stress out so much on a daily basis about what I am going to teach or how many people attended class, how am I going to pay my teachers and bills this month? What I can say is that I do what I do because it makes me feel good about helping others.  That almost every day I am connecting with people on so many different levels….ways that an office job might not afford me.  Sometimes I feel it is my Dharma and that is a comfort.

How does being in the present moment heal you?

Lately, I have been reading “Taking the Leap” by Peema Chadron. She discusses the Buddhist concept of Shenpa (being attached or hooked). I have been using this to heal myself. The practice is taking little snippets of time to meditate when and where I can. I stopped feeling guilty for not spending what I thought was ample time meditating.

Seriously, if you are able to meditate for an hour on a daily basis, I envy you. As for me, running a studio, teaching yoga and barre classes, being mother to an 8 year old, active dog and 18 year old senior cat (who has lots of health issues now) I have little time to be in the NOW. But with Pema’s guidance, I realized all I need to do is:

1.      Acknowledge that you are hooked.

2.      Pause. Take 3 deep breaths. And lean into the discomfort of whatever it is that you are hooked or attached to. Feel it. Taste it. Be curious about it.

3.      Move on. Do not make it a competition that you win or lose.

I cannot tell you how many times a day I do this. It is simple. And guess what? I have had so many big moments of revelation. Before I would have thought that I needed more time to acknowledge all of this “issues” that I am carrying around. But, for me, I realized that all I need to do is pause, lean in and move on. You don’t need to keep replaying the old stories. You can quickly take in what you need, acknowledge it, and get on with your life.  I am learning to lean in.

krista fam.jpg

Krista is a Massachusetts gal who loves to travel.  She has visited and lived in Mexico, St. Vincent, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, Trinidad, South Africa, Lesotho, Costa Rica, Italy, Turkey and most recently Thailand. She loves to hike with her husband Dan, daughter Zoe and miniature Australian Shepard Annie in beautiful Oregon.

Krista teaches at her little studio The Yoga Barre most days. She also has the honor of teaching at Karma Yoga in Clackamas, OR and The Love Hive in Portland, OR. She's grateful to have such a wonderful community who opened there arms wide in the Northwest.