May 21 2021
On the podcast this week is my old friend and yoga teacher Kenny Mortenson. Tune in as I and Kenny talk about his definition of yoga, his perspective about his chronic pain, men in yoga and stepping out of your comfort zone.
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Make sure to follow Alex's journey on instagram @alexmcrobs and join her yoga, meditation, barre and coaching classes at www.themindfullifepractice.com.
Intro: Welcome to the “Sober Yoga Girl Podcast” with Alex McRobs, international yoga teacher and sober coach. I broke up with booze for good in 2019 and now I'm here to help others do the same. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how.
Alex: All right. Welcome back to another episode of Sober Yoga Girl. I am super excited to be sitting here today with Kenny who is all the way in Norway. Kenny, Mortenson is your last name, right? Am I saying that quickly? Yeah.
Kenny: Yes, correct. That’s right.
Alex: And so, Kenny and I have been connected for like, seven years on Instagram, which the coolest thing, Kenny did his 200-hour yoga teacher training at Yandara in Mexico, I think a month after me, and all the way back in 2014 and I was like, obsessed with Yandara at this point, so I'm kind of like, checking out the hashtags, checking out who else has been tagged there, and somehow Kenny and I got connected, and we stayed in contact on Instagram for seven years. And then, at the start of the Mindful Life Practice a year ago, when MLPC went-- or sorry, when the whole world was going into lockdown. Me and Kenny actually met for the first time on Zoom, and he became one of our much loved yoga teachers was teaching with us and had a lot of fans in the community. And so, I'm sure they will be super happy to hear this podcast episode and kind of catch up with you again. So, welcome, Kenny.
Kenny: Thank you for the great intro, Alex. That's almost too much, and that just makes me miss all the members, the participants of the MLPC so much, so I gotta get back there and teach some more.
Kenny: Thank you, Alex.
Alex: Yandara flow, people love it. Actually, we still have a few of your Yandara classes in our on-demand library and someone was talking about it like, the other month. Like, some new member who had never met you. So, yeah. You are well loved.
Kenny: Okay. We gotta do some Yandara flow.
Alex: So, let's start off the episode by, you just kind of telling us a bit of background on you. You know, who are you? Where are you from? Sort of what's your story.
Kenny: Okay. Where do we begin? My name is Kenneth and I always feel funny when I say, I am a yoga teacher, because I kind of gonna be away from everything that's placed in the sentence behind I am. I'm really not using that as the full identity anymore, but practicing as a yoga teacher, which is good. And a yoga, a fitness in structure like, functional fitness mainly body weight exercises which I love, and I'm kind of using the yoga mentality into all that teaching as well, especially in gyms, so people don't hurt themselves. So, that's a big part of my passion is to use my knowledge, because I've had a lot of pain myself. So, to use my knowledge to be aware what you're doing in your training, your practice, and in everyday life, so. And I have a son, which I love more than anything. So, that's a quick intro.
Alex: Cool. I remember actually, that was one of the most memorable things about your classes is that they moved so mindfully and there was so much attention on detail, which is a really, it's a really great quality especially in the online medium, like, you want to make sure that you're kind of being as mindful as possible because you're not in the room with your students. So, it's definitely one of your strengths.
Kenny: Thank you. I find that when I move slow, I kind of get into a state where I'm letting something move through me. I'm starting becoming a channel of this divine power which is moving through me, which is, for me, allowing me to slow down, pause, and be aware of what like, physically, what everything is doing in my body, what part is activated, which allows me to kind of release those parts which I don't need to activate in tense, so moving slowly is huge for me.
Kenny: And I love that people, you know, tune into that as well.
Alex: Yeah. It's so different than like, our modern life which is so go-go-go, it's like, the perfect kind of contrast to the way we live.
Kenny: It is, and I used to be up in my head for so many years, like many other people, I reckon. So, it's just to tone that down and be mindfully slower. Yeah. Go from, which I find that maybe yoga really is, at least for me, is going away from all the doing into the being which is slower.
Alex: So, let's talk about kind of how you found yoga and spirituality. You know, were you always this way or like, how did you come across it?
Kenny: Oh my god. No. You should have seen me some years ago. You have a story yourself.
Kenny: I mean, we have changed a lot of both of us, I know. I used to be growing up a lot in my head insecure, not knowing who I was, and I don't know, I didn't think I was lost, but at that time, but I looking back, I know that I was not in a good place. But, I did have something with me, like a spark of something that I didn't really couldn't place anywhere until I was ready. So, yeah, you know, it's the typical term, yoga finds me when I'm ready. You find a teacher when you're ready.
Kenny: So, that's what happened to me. I was introduced to, you know, a fantastic teacher who went to Yandara as well, who, you know, inspired me to go to Yandara and educate myself. So, that was the beginning of it in 2012. I had already at that point started studying, going deeper into myself, more like peeling off layers of who I thought I was meant to be in this world. It's like, sort of like a crisis in some sort who am I, what I want to do.
Kenny: A typical thing. So, going deeper and deeper into that, and then I found yoga in the midst of that. And that just emphasized everything. And then, you know, the word spirituality just means to me to just be in touch with my source, my spirit. So, yeah, you can say I got more spiritual in touch with my spirit bit by bit after that. It was a long process though. Yeah.
Alex: And how did you end up, what led you to start teaching yoga?
Kenny: Again, I have had a wonderful teacher.
Kenny: that helps in the process sometimes to have someone who believes in you so much who kind of pushes you a little bit to do something you might not feel ready for. So, I was pushed out of my comfort zone in her classes. Just then, I was the guy who was at the back of the class, it was a typical thing, and kind of hiding. And then, as the more I practice yoga, the more I move further, you know, in front. And then, she saw something in me I think and pushed me to demonstrate in her classes like to stand in front of everyone and to show the poses and stuff. And that was uncomfortable, super uncomfortable. But that was the beginning of getting out of my comfort zone. So, I did that and after a while she said, You should go to a teacher training. And I was thinking, I'm not ready for that. But I did anyway. So, I went to Yandara, which, you know, is a fantastic place.
Alex: It is.
Kenny: And, yeah. I'm just thinking about it and it gives me chills. It's such a wonderful place. I went back three times--
Alex: I'm so jealous of that .I need to get back there. Only ever went once.
Kenny: All right. Let's create a retreat there's sometime.
Alex: I was thinking the exact same thing.
Kenny: Yeah. Let's get into that. Yeah, I have to get back there sometime. It's such a wonderful place and it's where I got more and more in touch with who I am.
Kenny: And I found that I actually had something deep to offer. Not the fancy poses. Not all the arm balances and everything, because when I started practicing yoga, I loved, I finally found something physically that I was capable of really hadn't had that before I started with yoga. And then, I found in my training that, Oh my god, I have something deeper which is not really mine. It's this universal. It's something from it's divine, it's something huge, and I found more and more each day goes by was 26 or 28 days that you have to offer this. So, when I got back home, I was so unmotivated in my, I had a high paying job, and I was so not motivated. So, I was just focusing on my yoga practice, developed my homepage ,started teaching little by little. Got fired from my job, because I did a terrible job, no wonder. Not super proud of that, but I was just, just something big had happened and I knew I had to pursue this even if I lost my house. It's just, I had a knowing, kind of annoying that I had from when I was a kid that there was something there, and that spark there just grew into something big, and it was impossible to ignore it, so I just, it was my purpose.
Alex: That just gave me shivers. Inner knowing.
Alex: It's beautiful.
Kenny: Yeah. And knowing as well, it's big.
Alex: So, tell me about like, your yoga practice. How has it evolved over time? Has it always been the same like, what did it start out with and what is it now?
Kenny: It started out with the fancy poses like headstand, and crow posts, and handstand, and then found that I could actually do this pretty well after a while, and that's what I put into my teaching as well. So, part of my teaching in the beginning as well was driven by my ego and which like, showing off what I could do, which I'm not proud of but I think it's an important part of the journey to just recognize, because this it was just part of my human, my journey, right?
Kenny: This is what I was supposed to do at that point in time. So, that was my focus in the beginning, and I think for many people who come to yoga, it's the physical aspect. And that's okay. I mean, it is what it is at that point. And then, it developed more into, because I started off practicing Ashtanga, which is really what got me dedicated I did that for a year. That got me truly dedicated, and then the year after that, I went into the teacher training. And after the teacher training, I loved the Yandara flow.
Kenny: I just felt so in love with it because it's so slow, based on tai chi with movement of energy life force is like, moving effortlessly. How can you sit in all the poses and you're always moving, right? How can you kind of sit in the transitions as well? How can you find kind of stillness and peace? Find Savasana in all the movements like the serenity and all the movements, which is also a part of what I'm calling my logo and my brand is now KM Yoga - Stillness In Motion. I just love that.
Alex: I love that. That contrast. It's beautiful.
Kenny: Yeah. It's a huge contrast to all the doing, so I just fell in love with the dancing movements. And so, you could say if you ask me what kind of yoga do you teach in practice? You could easily say Vinyasa flow.
Kenny: You could say that. For me, it's more than that but that's easy to just call it that. And then, there's been more transitions and shifts after that as well. Now I'm perfectly satisfied by having just five minutes on my mat in the morning and just sit and just breathe. If I have five breaths with awareness, that's good. I'm placing part of my practice is now to I want to feel joy when I practice. It's not another thing that I wanna be good at.
Kenny: Because that's what we can do. That's what we normally do in the everyday world, right?
Kenny: Just to perform and be good at. And now, it's like, Okay. I'm sitting here. I might feel pain or I might feel dissatisfied by this and this, but I'm sitting here and just breathing and just attempting to be okay with everything as it is right now. That's my practice this day. So, it's becoming more my practice is meditation, like meditation and everything, and I use that in the-- If I'm in a hurry and I have to drive somewhere, I'm practicing. I'm practicing my breathing and, you know, I'm in this but I can't get there on time. I'm breathing. I'm okay with it.
Kenny: I'm accepting. I'm not resisting. Because if I'm resisting, the universe will put more obstacles in my path. So, if I feel resistance, more resistance will come.
Alex: It's so true.
Kenny: Yeah. So, that's just my yoga practice is now. What I'm doing all day.