Have you taken our Kundalini Yoga class at weSPARK yet? Taught by Lauren Maher, Kundalini Yoga is the “Yoga of Awareness”. It combines physical postures, breathing techniques, mantra, and meditation to help relax and heal a person’s mind and body. This class stimulates the nervous, immune and glandular systems, improves strength and flexibility, centers the mind and opens the spirit. Lauren also participates in our weekly live streams so be sure to keep an eye out for her next yoga live session on our Facebook page. Keep reading to find out more about Lauren!

Tell us about yourself! What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?

I stumbled into my first yoga class in my early 20’s and it changed my life. It affected me so deeply that I simply wanted to share that knowledge with others, just for the joy of it. I never really thought I’d make a career out of it, but as my yoga studies progressed, I knew that yoga was something that would be with me for the rest of my life.

You lead weSPARK’s weekly Kundalini Yoga class which takes place every Friday at 9:30 AM. What is Kundalini Yoga and how does it differ from other forms of yoga?

Kundalini Yoga is often referred to as the “Yoga of Awareness”. While all yoga essentially has the same goal – the union of body, mind, and spirit – each style of yoga has a different path that takes you there. Kundalini Yoga tends to focus on the glandular system and the nervous system – one can think of it as an internal massage. Kundalini emphasizes pranayama (breathing exercises), mantra, and meditation over the more complicated or athletic postures.

Tell us about your experience with weSPARK. What led you to our facility and how can your work help benefit individuals dealing with a cancer diagnosis in the Los Angeles area?

It’s funny story about how I came to weSPARK. One day, I said to my friend, “I’d really like to start teaching in a more therapeutically-oriented environment.” About an hour later, the phone rang and it was a student of mine. He said he worked for weSPARK Cancer Support Center and thought I’d be a great fit there. I took it as a sign… and now I have been teaching at weSPARK for thirteen years!

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about teaching yoga to cancer patients during and post treatment. Everyone’s experience of cancer is very different, so I have to be flexible in the room in order to handle whatever comes up with my students. Overall, I try to create a safe space for my students to slow down, rest, and find a little bit of calm in the storm. One thing that I love about our classes at weSPARK is the wonderful sense of community and support that the members find from each other.

What do weSPARK guests take away after participating in your class?

My students have told me that yoga has helped them on all levels: physical, mental, and emotional. It’s different for everyone. Some people find that yoga softens the edges of treatment – it might aid in pain management, or help them with nausea or insomnia. Others say they feel stronger, more flexible, and are able to breathe more deeply. Clear across the board, most people seem to report that it helps them reduce anxiety and stress.

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What is something yoga has taught you?

Yoga has taught me to simply show up, without constantly worrying about the results.

What is your favorite yoga pose and why?

Tree pose. Symbolically, I like the idea of finding roots, standing tall, expanding outwards all at the same time. On a physical level, balance poses can be a great way to gauge what is going on with you on any given day. I notice that when I am under stress, my balance is one of the first things to go. If I wobble a lot in tree pose, I know that a little self-care might be in order.

How do you practice self-care?

I am a huge proponent of self-care, and I think that it is vital for all of us to schedule it into our weekly routine. My teacher was fond of saying, “You can’t give from an empty cup!” I practice self-care in different ways. It could be practicing yoga & meditation, curling up with a good book, or going to a concert. For me it’s about the simple pleasures in life, like having dinner with friends and spending quality time with my husband. I also travel quite often as a way to gain perspective and recharge. I think another important aspect of self-care is setting healthy boundaries for yourself. Sometimes knowing when to say “no” is vital.

What inspires you?

Kindness, generosity, and innovative thinking.

What is something people might not know about you?

I like heavy metal.

Be sure to follow Lauren on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more wellness and yoga tips! Visit her website, Breathe Deep Yoga for more information about the services she offers. weSPARK Cancer Support Center is located in Los Angeles and offers completely FREE programs, workshops, classes and individual therapies to cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones. Remember to take a look at our monthly program schedule for more information about the services we offer.

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