Who are you? What do you teach? Emphasis on a specific type of yoga?
I’m Lizzie Kountze, and I teach vinyasa-based flow classes: Foundations (on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm) and Power Yoga (on Tuesdays at noon).
I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, started my career as a journalist, and then dove into a career in international development in Washington DC, applying technology to address inequalities (especially around access to information and opportunities) in low-income countries. I do a lot of ideation, business development, and proposal writing in my day job– about 10 years ago yoga became an incredible balance that really helped to reduce my stress while making my body much happier. I noticed that while I practiced yoga I felt graceful and beautiful, no matter what was going on professionally or personally. It continues to make me happy in my skin on and off the mat. Most of all, yoga reminds of who I am and how to honor the love inside of me and take care of myself.
I teach with many assists and adjustments to help people deepen into their poses and build muscle memory for alignment. This is nourishing and rewarding for students, I find, and it aids in relaxation.
I love the outdoors, especially the sea, and moved to San Francisco five years ago to be closer to the wilderness and ocean. I have been teaching since 2011 at Vida Fitness in Washington DC as well as San Francisco’s Union Yoga, the Mindful Body, and Planet Granite. I also teach restorative yoga and am trained as a prenatal teacher.
What benefits can Foundations of Flow and Power Yogalead to if done routinely?
Foundations can help you to understand the fundamentals of alignment and yoga, and will help improve your range of motion, flexibility, and core strength, which will help you on the climbing wall and also as you go about your day. Most of all, you will feel more grounded, powerful, and intentional in your body.
Power Yoga will give you a refreshing and challenging aerobic workout that will calm and center you for the rest of the day. With consistency, you’ll gain tone in your legs, arms, and bum, and notice significant core strength. You’ll learn to safely master arm balances and inversions.
How do you keep your yogis motivated during class?
I sequence my classes with poses and counter-poses to encourage yogis to feel restored throughout the classes. Music also helps a lot for motivation for all of us, as it is timed to help each yogi keep moving forward. I get a lot of compliments on the music I play, and I totally agree that it’s fun, invigorating, relaxing, and beautiful, which is exactly how I want students to feel during and after class.
What experience should a yogi have before coming to your class for the first time?
Beginners are especially welcome for foundations of flow. Experienced yogis who want to understand the anatomy and dynamics of poses, vinyasa, and breath will also find a lot of learning opportunities in the slower class where poses are broken down step by steps.
Favorite pose or stretch? Why?
My favorite poses are forward fold / uttanasana and half moon pose (artha chandrasana).
Forward fold is wonderful for everyone to enable release in the low back and hamstrings. I like to say that if you don’t have time for a full practice, spend 30 seconds in a forward fold for a restorative break. With the knees bent, forward fold enables a lot of critical relief in the low back. I love how stress seems to dissipate with long slow breaths in a forward fold.
Half Moon Pose is challenging yet accessible, especially with a vertical block under the lowered hand. It is a multi-step pose, that requires careful and slow breathing and full attention. I love watching students feel their hip roll over the other while balancing. I love how you can up-level the pose with subtle adjustments, such as shifting your gaze up the wall or toward the lifted hand, or by playing with balance by elevating the balancing hand a few millimeters off the earth, or by bending the lifted leg and holding onto the ankle.