prenatal yoga teacher Kari Kwinn

Hi. My name is Kari.

I empower yoga teachers to

confidently support pregnant students

in all of their classes.

If pregnancy scares you. If pregnancy excites you.

And especially if pregnancy makes you feel many ways at once.

If you’re aware of the paradoxes of pregnancy and want to hold them all with confidence?

Welcome.

You’re in the right place.

Pregnancy is a normal condition of the adult human - it isn’t an injury or an illness, and yet our shared story of birth is broken. I am to re-center pregnancy into it’s rightful place of reverence and majesty.

The paradox of pregnancy is beautiful.

Hi. I’m Kari. I’m a paradoxical storyteller.

I empower yoga teachers to support pregnant students in their regular yoga classes by shifting the narrative about birth.

 

For twenty years, I have navigated the mysterious world of pregnancy & birth from the sidecar of perinatal education and the deep well of philosophy of yoga.

I teach about pregnancy because it is the most unique and most universal experience of being human - everyone on earth was born, and yet each pregnancy is a solitary journey. This is true of life. We are all alive, and we all must navigate our own individual path. Pregnancy helps us understand yoga, and yoga can help us shift our collective story about birth. 

My Story
the 'shallow end of the pool' version

In 1984, my favorite book in the library was called Your Bones. It was square, with thick, brightly colored pages, appropriate for precocious youth with a penchant for skeletal anatomy.  I read it cover-to-cover, parroting back the words my mother sussed out for me. Every two weeks, we would return to the library and I would feed it to the book return, and march directly back to the shelf where I had discovered it, hoping it would beat me to the punch. I was hooked. My mother has always loved me by nourishing my insatiable appetite for learning.

In 1985, I first saluted the sun while ankle-deep in crab grass outside of my Kindergarten classroom. Yoga was not a practice I chose, but one that was required of me in the days preceding specialized mats, and pants, and influencers. Greg, my Kindergarten teacher, with his long hair and recumbent bicycle, whose last name and lineage is lost to me, was my first teacher.

In 1986, my brother Andrew was born in a typhoon of precipitous labor, and I lamented that he had no carpals in his wrists (no babies do). For the rest of my life, then until now, the magic of bones and babies has stirred my heart, and my yoga practice has anchored me through the tumult of it all.

In 1987, my father stumbled into a lecture about the enneagram and dove headfirst into a dozen books on the matter. A '5' to the core, my father's way of learning how to love me correctly was to read the instruction manual. While he believes I am a '4,' I believe I'm on the crevice between 3 & 4. This early exposure to personality types helped me understand that each of us perceives the world differently, and that story matters.

In 1993, at the ripe old age of twelve, my maternal grandmother Hazel pulled me into a corner with a love-threat that reverberates within me. After a depression-era childhood and boot-camp style nursing education, her lengthy career as the director of her underresourced urban Emergency Department guided her misguided wisdom:

"If you get pregnant before you turn 18 years old, I'll kill you myself."

In 1996, I started teaching yoga. It was an accident, foreshadowing of my future relationship with codependency, when I volunteered to teach yoga for my own high school PE class so that the dance instructor, who had injured her ankle, could continue to get paid as the teacher and not hire a sub. This continued for years. I had no formal training, only lived experience of the gifts of this ancient practice.

In 2000, I took a course in forensic anthropology, which led to medical anthropology, which led to linguistics. I attended dozens of births and a bevy of 'What To Expect' classes as I researched the nuances in how our birth preparation and the language used influenced both our births and our perceived birth outcomes. While some people gravitated to the words “normal, typical, and safe,” others migrated to “extraordinary, magical, and life-changing.” Regardless of the unfolding of the birth itself, the stories they told about themselves and their journeys were predicted by foundation of terminology and stories infused into them prior to birth.

In 2003, I graduated from Colorado College with a BA in anthropology, having written an extraordinary thesis about The Communication Styles of Prenatal Educators. I then worked as a Health Center Assistant and the Director of Education for Northern Colorado for Planned Parenthood where I got a collection of entirely new perspectives on pregnancy and birth.

In 2004, I took my first yoga teacher training in the basement of a hotel, in the armpit of a town on the Central Coast of California. It was equal parts Ashtanga and instructor ranting, but it kept me out of trouble and exposed me to a style of teaching I did not want to replicate. I took notes on everything I would do differently when I was in the seat of the teacher. I encourage you to do the same. 

In 2005, I completed my Master's Degree in Nonprofit Management with Regis University, and started working as a Client Care Coordinator for the Southern Colorado AIDS Project. I supervised a program for pregnant clients and their children, which took me into so many places I'd never been. I had the honor to support clients in hospice, those incarcerated or in work release and halfway programs, those seeking to care for children themselves, seek out a better life for their children, as well as those lobbying with a judicial system to receive a tubal ligation.

In 2007, I took my second 200 hour YTT program, because my first pre-dated the popularity of the Yoga Alliance and I was told I needed a credential with them in order to teach. Again, I took many notes about how I would do this differently, once it was my turn.

In 2008, I helped open cambio. Yoga - Colorado Springs’ first donation-based studio, where I joined the YTT Faculty teaching anatomy, both Western & Subtle. In time, I became responsible for The Business of Yoga, The Seat of the Teacher, as well as the Prenatal Modifications. I innovated a modification to the curriculum and birthed the Extended Format option, which allowed students to train in alignment with their own schedule and financial capacity. In this role I made many mistakes, and continued to take notes about what I would do differently. 

In 2009, I launched a six month self-study course called The Desert, which culminated with an in-person retreat in New Mexico. Feeling wildly unprepared to Hold Space, a term I wasn't yet aware of, I turned to one of my teachers Maggie Chumbley and learned some of the most magical ways to foster intimacy and connection between a group of people who have never met in person, but have a common shared set of values and interests.

In 2012, I attended a prenatal yoga teacher training. I didn’t think it would go anywhere, because I had never been pregnant, but thought I’d build some skills. No one would ever trust me to teach them without the street cred of the lived experience, right? Sitting on the floor in a circle with other eager yoga teachers, Katie Wise said the words that changed my life:

"You’ve all been a mother in another lifetime."

As an RPYT, I started teaching weekly prenatal yoga classes, which grew from 6 students to 24, with people leaking out into the hallway. Then, they graduated, and I learned how to teach Mom & Me. Then Mom & Tots.

In 2013, in partnership with Bea Wilds, we opened Colorado Springs’ first prenatal yoga studio, which is still chugging away today. We went to The Farm to become Midwives’ Assistants, and formed a doula circle, attending births alternately as clinical assistants and non-clinical support people.

We trained with Karen Strange to get our credentials in Neonatal Resuscitation, and this training more than any other was the most skillful and engaging way to impart learning to adults about difficult topics. I have taken it three times with my principle interest in gathering her teaching styles. 

I also took a training with Laurel Wilson to be a Lactation Educator, because I realized that most of what my Mom & Me Yoga students needed was safe and accurate resources regarding lactation and infant feeding. While I did not ultimately register with CAPPA, I did offer a Breastfeeding Basics course for pregnant students to set them (and their partners and/or support team) up for breastfeeding success. Through these classes, I met Monet Nicole, whose photography you see throughout this site. She has since launched the most successful career as a birth photographer, and I have loved watching her journey from the sidelines.

In 2014, after years of Unexplained Infertility, I spent some time digging into the depths of my personal practice. I learned to teach Yin with Bernie Clark, and then went to the Sivananda Ashram and took my third 200 hour YTT, as well as my first 500. I started working for Recovery 2.0, and my teachers Tommy Rosen & Kia Miller. I started teaching people how to teach Yin.

In 2016, in the unfolding of the darkest chapter of my life, I encountered many teachers. Sukhdev, who held space as I oriented to an experience of faith. Pasqual, the sha-woman, who wrangled the demons within me, and Nikki Myers, the founder of Y12SR and the person to nudge me in many right directions.

In 2017, on the streets of Rishikesh, India, I met Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa in a stall selling socks. Having read everything she had ever written, I did flat-affect fan-girl. We have many differences in our ideologies, but her sentinel work Beautiful, Bountiful, Blissful remains one of the most revered books on my shelf. That same year, I became the Director of Yoga at White Lotus Therapeutics, an integrated and HAES-aligned yoga & wellness studio.

In 2018, I sold my interest in Enso and embarked on a deeper exploration of Yin, which is a felt practice. Instead of orienting on how postures look, Yin asks how postures feel. In Yin, the teacher is more a midwife than a master, and I realized something I had always known, but hadn’t spoken.

In 2019, I was hired by Meta Yoga Studios in Breckenridge to create the curriculum for their Advanced Yoga Teacher Training course, which included modules in Authenticity, Commitment, Confidence, and Inspiration, as well as a twelve-week elective module about Yoga & Pregnancy, which has grown and evolved into this course. I contributed written pieces about infertility to a number of publications, including [M]otherboard Birth.

 

In 2020, as the world shifted, I migrated all of my teaching to the virtual environment. Renewing my intensive study with Maggie Chumbley, I pivoted quickly, taking all of my coursework to the virtual environment. In November, published my first book, Better Boundaries.

In 2021, I launched my first evergreen course about Yin Yoga Sequencing, which was so well received by students that I started considering how I could adapt Yoga & Pregnancy to this more meaningful & accessible way of learning. I began studying with Kelly Diels, who helped me refine my perspective and my words, and demonstrated the missing piece of hybrid education: evergreen curriculum & live virtual office hours.

In 2022, this course, the culmination of my life's work, will be born.

1.png

I'm registered with the Yoga Alliance at the Experienced, 500 hour level.

This means I have completed an advanced Yoga Teacher Training & taught for more than 4,000 hours.

I completed my 500 hour training at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in 2014, and earned the title Yoga Acharya, which means 'master of yoga.'

I have stopped counting, but have documented more than 10,000 hours of teaching since 2008.

1.png

With my (future) co-owner of Enso Bea Wilds, I successfully completed the Midwife's Assistant training at The Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee. Our training was taught by many of the 'original' farm midwives, including Ina May Gaskin, Pamela Hunt, Deborah Flowers, Joanne Santana, Carol Nelson, and Umm Salaamah Abdullah-Zaimah.

Upon completing this training, I assisted Jessica Nipp at Holistic Home Birth.

Additionally, I studied Neonatal Resuscitation with Karen Strange and was NRP while practicing.

2.png

I completed an 85 hour training with Katie Wise and Kirsten Warner and registered with the Yoga Alliance as a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher.

 

Following this, Bea Wilds and I created our own curriculum and registered with the Yoga Alliance to conduct RPYT trainings at Enso Prenatal.

Bea still hosts these trainings, in collaboration with some of Colorado Springs' finest birth professionals. If you want to teach dedicated prenatal classes, I recommend this training.


 

3.png

After completing my 85 hour RPYT with Katie Wise, I also took the rest of her trainings before she retired from birth work.

Mom & Me Yoga Teacher Training

Birth doula training.

In collaboration with Michelle Rodriguez, we created our own 20 hour Mom & Me Yoga Teacher Training with Enso Prenatal, and a Mom & Tots Yoga Teacher Training.

3.png

I am registered with the Yoga Alliance as a Continuing Education Provider.

All of my trainings exceed the rigorous standards of the Yoga Alliance in a variety of curriculum areas.

I integrate my understanding of adult education, learning and facilitation techniques I have learned from Maggie Chumbley & Lead Groups Better to ensure that my continuing education courses are not only informative & engaging, but enjoyable, effective, and memorable. 

2.png

A prenatal yoga student approached me to be her birth doula, and I kindly declined.

However, she persisted, and when Katie Wise announced that she would offer a birth doula training, I signed up and then joined The Doula Circle - an integrated practice of birth doulas in Colorado Springs where I attended home births, hospital births, surgical births, and supported those with tender medical needs, including antepartum work, support at NICU and at Denver Children's Hospital.

4.png

While I never had the desire to own a yoga studio, Bea convinced me. We joined forces in a town that wasn't a huge fan of yoga in general, and built a thriving business around the idea that motherhood needed a bit of a revolution.

Enso: Motherhood Revolution is still open for business, hosting yoga classes, birth classes, as well as a wide range of antepartum and postpartum services and trainings.

In 2018, I graduated and maintain the highest level of reverence for this wonderful place.

4.png

As I started to teach Mom & Me yoga classes, I realized there was a big hole in my understanding of lactation, as well as a great need for better-integrated lactation services.

I studied with Laurel Wilson to become a Lactation Educator via CAPPA. I did not ultimately register as an LE, as it did not seem pertinent to the work that I was doing.

However, this training was so remarkable I recommend it for anyone who desires to learn more about the miracle of human lactation.

5.png

In 2016, I joined forces with White Lotus Therapeutics in Denver, and quickly became The Director of Yoga.

In this role, I am responsible for the continuing education and professional development of our teaching staff. 

Our foundational principles include teaching based on the biopsychosocial model. We are HAES aligned, and offer intimate and personalized yoga classes as part of an integrated wellness model.

5.png

And way back in 2001, I started on my pathway to birth education. My undergraduate thesis in anthropology was an integration of linguistics and medical anthropology - helping people understand their concepts of health & wellness.

My primary focus was the importance of the word choices and methodology of prenatal education, and how these choices impacted the perceived birth outcomes of students.

Following graduation, I was the Director of Education for the Northern Colorado division of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Yoga Credentials-2.png

I'm grateful for the incredible privilege I had to attend both Colorado College, the most unique institution of higher education in the United States, which offers immersive course work, one class at a time. I studied neuroscience, anthropology, and everything I could in the world of exercise science.

 

Regis University, a Jesuit school devoted to bringing education and healthcare as a mechanism to improve access and equity around the world. My classroom was 100%. virtual, with colleagues in Iceland, Costa Rica, Israel, and all around the US.

MonetHeadshotBW.jpg

About the images

The images featured through this site & course were captured by Monet Nicole, who was originally a pastry chef and food blogger.

After her first child was born, she started taking photographs of breastfeeding, and then birth. She now co-owns Birth Becomes You, a company that trains birth photographers to capture all of the qualities of birth. You've likely encountered her work before in national advertising.

Each candid image features real humans navigating birth.

My Values

2.png
6.png
3.png
7.png
4.png
8.png
5.png
9.png