Kendra Renzoni is a local yoga instructor with a heart of gold. The first time I met her, I was working at a studio in West Springfield. From the lobby, I could hear music and her laughter and I was like, what is going on in there? Her students would come out sweaty and glowing and wait in line to chat with her after class. When I took my first class with her, I could see why she was so popular. She is dynamic and pushes you. She is your laughing buddha/best friend during that 75 minutes. I was thrilled when I saw her teaching at CLINIC as well. Kendra is here to chat a bit about her story and what she does! ~Caroline Ruderman, Reiki Master Teacher
Hi Kendra, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule. Can you tell us about what you do, and how you got into your work?
I started taking yoga classes when I was in college. My teacher was a beautiful dancer and singer and we would start classes with singing hindu chants and she would play her harmonium or shake a rain stick and we would sing as loud as we could until it organically moved into dance and then into yoga. She wove philosophy into the class and sometimes I would cry the whole time. After class, I came out feeling like part of me that was never seen, got seen.
I started teaching yoga classes at our local rock gym and the room would fill up with folks and friends and it was a blast. After graduating from college I went out rock climbing around our country and while I was in Yosemite, CA I took a fall that dislocated every bone in my right foot. I saw a surgeon and he told me I needed to head home immediately and get a surgery. The first doctor I saw back home said I might never walk again and most certainly would never climb again, I was devastated. I went for a second opinion and luckily found a new doctor who said she had done the surgery to many professional athletes and they all came out well. After the surgery I was in a boot and on crutches for 6 months. During that time I did yoga and I used it to recover. When I went in to have the boot removed she said that, because of the yoga, I needed no physical therapy and I walked out of the doors of the hospital with everyone staring and cheering me on. They were incredulous to see such a recovery. After the surgery, I went on to climb harder and more challenging things than I had ever dreamed of.
Then I moved to Boulder, Colorado to teach outdoor education and I began to teach at a yoga studio up in Nederland which was about 1,000 miles above Boulder. I was young, playing loud electronic music, and doing really advanced arm balances and dancing around with everyone. The class was packed, folks were coming up from Boulder just to take the class.
I decided to do a yoga teacher training because I felt such a calling. I chose one in North Adams, Massachusetts. It was a vinyasa training and the teacher looked great, plus she said that I could trade off some of the tuition cost by working for her while I was there. So I flew to Massachusetts and began working for her. About 2 weeks in of working and starting the training, she asked if I would teach at her studio and said I could live in the studio for free. I was in my early 20’s and a free place to live while doing what I loved sounded extraordinary. I stayed and taught there for a couple of years and then moved to Northampton where I took a class with Eileen Muir. After class, she called me and said that she was looking for a studio manager and wondered if I was interested in working with her. I said yes, that I knew NOTHING about running a studio, but would give it a shot happily! It was so stressful, and I was terrible at it for a couple of years, but then became really good and, as a team, she and I were electric together.
I took 500 hours of her teacher training, which was done in the Iyengar style, and began studying with many really well-known and honored Iyengar yoga teachers, and taking weekend trips to NYC to study. I am now completely self-employed and teaching all around the valley as well as doing a lot of private lessons and therapeutic work. I teach both Vinyasa and Iyengar yoga.
What sets you apart from others in your profession?
What sets me apart from other teachers is:
- I am a philosopher and I share the ancient teachings in every class
- I play a dulcimer and a shruti box and chant to my students at the beginning and ending of every class
- I build up and break down poses, fine tune the foundations, and have incredible clarity in teaching the poses
- I do a lot of hands-on assists.
- I am one of the only Vinyasa teachers that has a deep understanding of alignment and intelligent sequencing.
- I am constantly learning and studying with incredible teachers, philosophy, yoga asana, and shiatsu. Because of this I am inspired and always bringing something new to class.
I begin classes with a dharma talk and apply the ancient teachings to daily life in a way that everyone can relate to and grow from AND to the physical practice of the asanas. The entire class becomes an exploration of the philosophy through experientially applying it to our bodies and our emotions and our minds. As we work through the poses, I have a really special talent at clarity of instructions and because of that I see my students learn at hyper speeds and progress in their practice very quickly. I demonstrate what not to do, what to do, I break things down and build them back up, and every class feels like an emotional and physical journey.
What’s your specialty?
I would say that my specialty is all of the above, but really my specialty is something that I was born with and not something that I have honed in this lifetime, or something I can even take credit for. I have a big heart and I am connected deeply with my students because of it. I really care and my students feel it. My classes are a special experience because I have followed my heart there and so it feels like I am honoring a truth by teaching and sharing the practice of yoga. I hope to facilitate this for my students and I believe that my students are really there, not because of all the details, but because they are coming into connecting with their own hearts and honoring and living their own truths.