Instructor of the Month: Kimberley Puryear
Taking one of Kimberley Puryear’s classes is to get an hour-long education in authenticity and self love. The moment you lay out your mat in her Tuesday evening Yin class, you are welcomed by Kimberley with a smile (usually followed by a funny one-liner). Although the class is always packed, there is a sense of individual attention paired with the comfort of being surrounded by people looking to find balance in their body and mind. The same personalized attention that goes into her class is applied to her work as the lead instructor of the 200 Hour Teacher Training program. Testimonials from 200 Hour TT grads flow in, praising her ability to connect with students and pass on her knowledge as both a yoga instructor and practitioner. With her workshops, Teacher Training expertise and popular Yin class, Kimberley is one of AYC’s most invaluable family members.
Kimberley was first drawn to yoga as her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A friend who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis had been practicing yoga to manage her pain and recommended Kimberley join to help her cope with her mother’s illness. “She taught me basic stuff, especially breathing. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was learning breathing techniques not only for myself but also for my mother, to help her pass peacefully.” Kimberley was especially drawn to yoga’s ability to calm, soothe, strengthen and heal.
In 2007, 10 years after starting yoga, she decided to deepen her practice by attending AYC’s 200 Hour RYT Immersion and 6 months later dove into our 300 Hour RYT. During this time, she discovered her love for Yin. “It was a practice that was so powerful and grounding during a time where I really needed that.” For Kimberley, Yin allows you to sit with aspects of yourself that are uncomfortable. “Life is not comfortable for me naturally, so to have a tool to allow whatever is inside that needs space to be heard and felt and understood is powerful to me. It’s a daily practice to listen to those things and then give myself what I need to nurture myself. And then through that I can help open my heart to other people.” After graduation, she and her husband opened a yoga studio in Columbia, SC. With the success of her studio, she was approached by Stephanie Keach to become a teacher training instructor at AYC. Working with students has caused her teaching style to evolve. In her classes, workshops and TT courses, Kimberley has a fluid teaching style- constantly changing the pose, topic or curriculum to fit the needs of the group and of individuals. This attention to detail stems from her genuine interest in knowing her students. “My favorite thing about teaching is the connection with students. I learn so much more from them than they could ever learn from me. I love that the interaction with each and every single student is an opportunity to connect.”
October 16th was the last day of Kimberley’s 5-day Flow & Yin Immersion. This workshop focused on exploring Vinyasa Flow, Yin Yoga theory and practice, relaxation techniques, pranayama and adjustments. She has another workshop February which will focus on Restorative Yoga. The beautiful thing about Restorative Yoga is that it gives us a chance to reset and flush the system of stress. Kimberley’s workshop will fluidly discuss the negative effects of stress on our sympathetic nervous systems and address how as a yoga practitioner or instructor you can find ways to bring yourself and your students back into balance. Never one to settle for cookie-cutter yoga, Kimberley is clear that her main goal is to give students the tools to find their own paths. “I think that’s the most powerful thing that can come out of a workshop- people saying ‘I can make this my own.’”
Her exploration of balance within her own life and practice influences her teaching style, making her an incredibly relatable mentor to the hundreds of students she teaches each year. “I have been learning for 10 years and teaching for 10 years and I’m just now starting to understand what my practice is,” she says. “It is trying to be strong, fluid, radiant and peaceful. It’s trying every day to really pay attention through my practice and meditation, which of those parts is out of balance.” Her unsurprising success as a yoga instructor stems from this innate ability of hers to adapt, connect and admit that she’s just another person trying to navigate this crazy world.