For New York City based yogi Rebecca Ketchum, guiding others to become graceful, intelligent, and humble teachers is the current behind the teacher trainings, retreats and workshops she leads throughout the world. This weekend will find her headed east where she will share that drive as she presents at the Third Annual Love Yoga Festival on Cape Cod. Highly regarded (well beyond Brooklyn) for her mindfully aligned vinyasa classes and her extensive background in Iyengar, Ashtanga, dance, and Kundalini, Rebecca’s teachings are known to leave students “full of new information yet clear-headed, light yet grounded, strong yet nimble.”
Early on Ketchum was drawn to yoga’s non-competitive and healing nature, and her work helping to create and maintain holistic health and wellness programs (along with a team of physical & manual therapists, and acupuncturists) at Kima Center for Physiotherapy and Wellness is a natural extension of that calling. She credits Katy Bowman, Nikki Villela, Genny Kapuler, Jillian Turecki-Baer, Nevine Michaan, Thomas Myers, Pina Bausch, and Amy Matthews among the folks who have influenced her path.
Practice, eat study, star gaze and explore with Rebecca in the Catskills at the finish of summer… September 9th through the 11th she’ll be leading the Endless Summer Retreat high above sea level at the Menla Mountain Retreat Center, a 325-acre private nature reserve, 2 1/2 hours north of NYC. Keep current with her teaching schedule through her website and also on Twitter and Instagram.
We caught up with Rebecca for a quick chat as she prepares to make her way to Hyannis this weekend…
wind up… how do you wind up, prepare for the week ahead?
I have most of Sunday off and I use it to prepare the class I will teach for the week. At first, writer’s block sets in and I can’t imagine coming up with yet another class that feels relevant and authentic to what’s interesting to me. After moving around, looking at some books, and returning to my journal notes from classes I’ve taken throughout the week, I always end up creating something. It feels like I’ve written my personal essay/diary entry for the week. Once I have my class prepared, I feel ready for the week to come.
and, when you need to exhale, what’s your other direction?
Watering my plants. Looking out my window. Lying on my floor.
favorite high-powered snack?
pistachios and cherries
what three things are you never without?
Essential oil – always handy on the subway. Comfortable shoes (wide toe box, flexible sole, no heel, minimal support) – not the cutest look. My journal – I jot down notes about things in the body/mind that interest me. I document the genius things I’ve heard other teachers say or things I’d like to explore more.
the sound of music… you have room for 5 tracks on your playlist, they are?
Given the choice, I’d go for podcasts instead of songs these days. I spend a lot of time walking around the city from client to studio to client and podcasts truly have changed the way I teach. I feel I’m getting free continuing education from around the world. Here are my top 5 podcasts: Embodied Philosophy, Yoga & Beyond, Liberated Body, Katy Says w/Katy Bowman, and Yoga Meditation and Contemplation with Swami J
could you repeat that? one cue that you regularly share with your students, and the story behind it…
“Breathe into your low back ribs.” I’m interested in exploring the natural kyphotic curve of the thoracic spine. It’s a very subtle cue and not meant to be an invitation to hunch and collapse in the chest. I wouldn’t want to give it to someone who is already overly kyphotic in their thoracic or someone who sits slumped at a desk all day. This all started when I took an excellent training called PhysioYogaGlobal taught by physical therapists. I learned that many yoga teachers and long time yogis are beginning to flatten out and reverse their thoracic curve of the spine. At first it was hard for me to hear this cue because it feels so good to lie in supported fish. And I thought we needed to sit up taller and open our hearts in a very controlled way. But they were right. I would look around at my fellow teachers and serious practitioners only to see many flattened and sometimes reversed thoracic curves. We need the kyphotic curve for healthy lung function and shock absorption, among other things. To teach this, I have my students roll up a long thin blanket and place it horizontally on their mat. I have them lie down on their belly, forehead to the floor, so that the blanket is pressing into their low front ribs which helps to enhance the thoracic curve. While in this restorative posture I have them “breath into the low back ribs”. It feels healing to me, like each breath is like pouring medicine and life into that space that tends to be rigid and compressed after spending so much time trying have a tall barrel-chested “yoga posture”.
what one book have you most often give as a gift?
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers
finish the sentence? i’d like to teach the world to…
Stop living in a world of false dichotomies. I wish the world would move away from a tempting and overly simplistic black or white rhetoric. Judith Hanson Lasater has said that her favorite way to describe life is ‘bittersweet.’ I agree with her. To me, life is not sugary sweet happiness on one hand or utter misery on the other. Both of these extremes coexist. In my happiness there are shades of sorrow, and in my pain there is beauty.