Her eyes light up as she begins to speak about her students and how they, “start to feel their bodies, how they learn to breathe and how they open their hearts.” The passion exudes from Michelle Kronenberg when she talks about her teaching and her yoga practice. There is such a pureness about her love for yoga and teaching yoga. “This is what I do; this is my life,” she says.
Michelle Kronenberg‘s mom took her to her first yoga class at a very early age, but it wasn’t until her aunt, a student of the Advaita Vedanta or non-dualism philosophy, turned her to the path of self-inquiry that her life began to change. At 19 years of age, Kronenberg attended a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat. It was remarkable for a teenager to sit in silence several hours each day without talking, reading, writing or watching TV. “It blew me out of the water,” she says. “I experienced a part of myself I had never paid attention to before. I really don’t think I was conscious about what was happening at the time,” she explains.
After the retreat, she began a daily meditation practice and a regular asana practice. Michelle Kronenberg traveled to Indonesia where she lived in silence at a monastery for many months. When she returned to the states she got into a serious car accident that caused her to do restorative yoga for a year and a half. She fell in love with the physical practice of yoga and started reading many of the sacred texts and learning as much as she could about the Hatha yoga practice. All the while, she continued her sitting practice.
Michelle Kronenberg lived in India for a year and studied with Pattabhi Jois, the founder of the Ashtanga Vinyasa system of yoga. In Pune, India, she also studied with B.K.S. Iyengar, the creator of the Iyengar system of yoga. Chuck Miller, Maty Ezraty, Erich Schiffman, Lisa Walford and Guru Singh are more notable teachers from whom she has learned. Most recently she spent a month in Italy studying with Donna Holleman, an Iyengar-influenced teacher whom has created her own system. The list of top level teachers goes on. Michelle has the Ivy League education of yoga training and it shows in her teaching.
Michelle Kronenberg brings a lightness and a joy to her classes. Her classes can be strong and yet incredibly precise. She never teaches the same sequence. “I teach for the moment,” she explains. “I want my students to come away from my class more aware and more centered, sharper and clearer,” she says. Her classes are laced with humor, “just so we don’t get too serious” during the practice. “Lately,” she says, “I’ve been loving the detail of proper alignment. When you focus the mind on different parts of the body you learn to use the body as a tool.”
It is a technique of concentration or Dharana. “I use my practice to sharpen my mind and there is a freedom that comes from that,” she says. “It gives me respite from the unending chatter of the mind. That is what I share in my teaching and that is what I hope people leave my classes with. I hope they take that philosophy off the mat into their lives.”
Michelle Kronenberg has been practicing yoga for 16 years. “My life has been devoted to the path of self-discovery and yoga on so many levels.” She admits that it is not always an easy path, “but it is an amazing reflection for me to see myself and where I am in my life. In order to maintain my centeredness and bring myself back to a place of openness and self love, I use my sitting practice.”
As for her teaching, she notes, “I love to teach. I love the detail. I love seeing people come into their bodies and wake up. As a teacher you can see people start to breathe and feel truly alive. For me, the studying, practicing and teaching of yoga awakens a sense of presence, and the feeling of being present encourages my heart to soften and open,” she says. “When I live from my heart, I feel greater love and compassion for myself and others. My hope is that my students feel this as well.”
Check out Michelle Kronenberg’s yoga schedule.
More on Yoga in Los Angeles.
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