Students in the Maple Grove CorePower Yoga classroom sit facing a wall of mirrors. Instructor Kate Lunski tells them to turn around. Student Angie Ryden rises from her mat and repositions herself facing the back wall: no mirrors. She can’t check her posture, or others’ postures. So much of balance is vision, she realizes. She focuses on where her hips float.
“With the mirrors…you might feel self conscious, or compare yourself to others,” says Ryden, who has taken Lunksi’s classes for three years, Without mirrors, “your other senses step up.”
That’s part of what Lunski means when she says, “Yoga meets you where you’re at.” Regardless of how flexible your neighbors are, the challenge exists in your own body and breath.
“I think a lot of people are afraid to do yoga because they judge themselves,” Lunski says. “Without freedom of expression in your body, it’s hard to freely express other parts of yourself," she says.
Not long ago, Lunski learned this firsthand. For more than eight years, she worked as a designer for Target, hunched over a computer. Throughout her years in design school she developed back problems from laboring over drawings.
She felt stressed working in a corporate environment. “Your body needs to move to support itself, and here I was sitting in one posture for many hours,” she says.
Lunski had practiced yoga informally as a kid, getting into the lotus pose and doing seated twists between climbing trees, playing softball and running. Her mother formally introduced her to yoga when she was 15, noting that her daughter seemed bored with the competition inherent to conventional sports—the incessant striving to win.
Incessant corporate striving wore on Lunski, too. In 2013, she considered leaving Target for yoga following a 2010 wakeboarding accident that left her with neck problems. That was the year she started taking yoga seriously.
“I wanted a different community,” she says.
Lunski started teaching in November of that year. Leading vinyasa, which translates to “breath to movement,” she found her design talents coming in handy. Yoga abides by a structure of safety and health, and “within that structure, I’m able to design around it…with the music, creating the experience in the yoga room, adding philosophy and motivational words.”
In her favorite class, C2, "you move up a mountain, then you plateau, you go down, you go back up, plateau again and walk all the way back down to the ground…I change the light and music when [the students are] opening up and the energy increases and they’re high up on the mountain, with a lot of aggressive movement and physical exertion…and I try to get them to leave the class in a stable, balanced place as they move down the mountain and decrease their heart rate,” Lunski says.
Sarah Manneh, a physician at Oakdale Obstetrics & Gynecology, practices yoga at CorePower to de-stress from her job. She notes that Lunski “is very much about the emotional healing in a person as well as physical healing.”
In addition to teaching eight to 12 classes a week, Lunski uses her design talents as a retail specialist at the Maple Grove CorePower location, where you’ll find a boutique styled by Lunski.
“Even though there are certain postures I will never be able to do, the mental practice will never stop," Lunski explains.