October 2nd, 2013 by Amelia
I met Khristine when I first moved to the Bay in 2011. She’s always been like a shining light in the punk community in San Francisco for the time I’ve known her, and she does a lot of service here. She started Yoga Punx a few years back and I thought I’d bring her movement to the forefront here on Create to Destroy!
What is Yoga Punx?
Its an alternative to conventional yoga studios in a warehouse in the Mission in San Francisco. Everyone and anyone is welcome! We do all levels of Vinyasa flow yoga classes.
I wanted to create an environment for folks that wanted to try yoga or didn’t want to go to a studio or people would normally not do yoga or seek it out. I play punk music and there is an awesome and diverse community of folks that come. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. It’s truly all levels and done by donation.
I think it’s pretty punk to get quiet and see what’s happening within you physically and emotionally. It’s punk and DIY to create some space for ourselves in life.
How did you start teaching a punk yoga class?
It started at 2Spirit Tattoo Shop in 2010. My friend Hydi and I wanted to create a space for the freaks to do yoga, but done in the manner described above. In the past three years it has grown and become its own entity. It is so amazing and a privilege to teach and be a part of this community. The kindness, openness and laughter are moving and so impressive to me.
What’s your response to the idea that term “Yoga Punx” is ironic?
Because people think yoga is hippie? I don’t have a response to that.
How is yoga “punk”?
The revolution starts with me! I think it’s pretty punk to get quiet and see what’s happening within you physically and emotionally. It’s punk and DIY to create some space for ourselves in life.
So much is fucked up with world. Originally that’s what drew me into the punk scene, where other people were expressing that through music, like the politics and community. I think yoga feels similar in a lot of ways. Now yoga has caught on and is everywhere. But still in many ways Yoga Punx is not the status quo. The very concept of yoga is a variation, a different view, and against everything our society tells us we should do.
I understand you weren’t always on a spiritual quest of sorts. How is your life today — sharing yoga with people — a contrast to your old life?
Yeah, I was a gutter punk for years and all fucked up on drugs. I didn’t give a shit about myself or other people. I was in a dark place. Today I get to teach yoga for a living. I always joke that the old me would have beat up the new me. I just don’t give a shit anymore. I get to let go of all these ideas about myself and world, what is punk and what’s not. Being authentic is what’s punk!
How did you discover yoga?
I was a social worker and worked at a Needle Exchange in the Haight. It’s a pretty stressful but rad job. I was looking at ways to take care of myself after work. A friend brought me to this super big yoga class and I was really intimidated and felt like I didn’t belong. I had a lot of judgment! It happened to be that my longtime old friend was teaching the class and I knew she was cool and that I could trust her. She was not fluffy or hippie-dippy at all, and I just kept going. Years went past and I realized I wanted to teach yoga — it had helped me so much. Yoga helped me to be in my body, the moment and it helped so much with anxiety.
Why do you do it…what are the benefits to doing yoga?
It’s good for the body and mind and I’m way less of a dick after I do it!
How does doing yoga compliment a punk lifestyle…besides giving one a way to get rid of back pain while sitting in a tour van for hours?
Like I said, it’s good for the body and mind. It’s a great way to detox the body, and some of the postures are great for shoulders and forearms stressed and messed up from playing guitar and drums.
Do you have any upcoming trips planned? I understand you’ve been to India. Do you go there to study with specific teachers?
Yes. I’m going to back to India to study with my teacher Sharath at the Ashtanga Institute in Mysore, India. I’m also going to check out Thailand and Indonesia while I’m over there. I’m very excited. I went to India last year and it was nothing like I expected it to be. It was hard and beautiful at the same time.
My favorite things about India are the chai, the wild animals everywhere, and the kids. I taught some yoga while I was there to kids that were rescued from sex trafficking — pretty intense and heartbreaking. They loved the yoga and loved visiting them every week. The laughter and how resilient they all were was amazing. It really changed my perspective and life.
Have you run into other punks who do yoga?
Yes there’s a bunch. People thank me all the time for creating a space for this in SF, but other punks are starting either Yoga Punx or punk yoga all over the world? I know there’s a Philadelphia Yoga Punx and New York as well. Check ’em out if you’re there.
How can we stay up-to-date on your classes and travels?
At www.yogapunx.com or our Facebook page . The classes in SF at the Koo Koo Factory (1449 Stevenson, off 14th St.) are Sundays at 2 p.m. and Tuesdays at 6 p.m. There is a new class in the East Bay at 4th Street Yoga (1809 4th Street in Berkeley) at 12pm on Wednesdays.
Any last words?
People always say to me, “I cant do yoga, I’m not flexible,” and I respond, that its not about that! If you’re focusing on your breath and learning to steady your mind, you’re practicing yoga. The physical postures and flexibility come and go. Yoga is a moving meditation.
Come do yoga! Up the Yoga Punx!!