Share Your Story: Kim
I’m Kim Munro and I own Empower Studio in Wellington with my husband Andy Munro. Our journey into practicing and teaching yoga began together. In 2002, I had a horrendous accident which resulted in me having to have my face reconstructed and which also led to ongoing issues with my whole spine from my neck down to my sacrum. The following two years were incredibly difficult both physically and emotionally. Then in 2004 a good friend of mine turned up on my doorstep to cart me off to her yoga class, and believe me, she wasn’t taking ‘No’ for an answer! I went reluctantly but oh my, on the drive home I knew I had experienced something amazing and quite literally life-changing.
By this point, I had been struggling for two years and my physical health had a long way to go, just to find a place of comfort in my own body. We had also been going through an ordeal with Andy’s job which led to a complete career shift and us ultimately emigrating to New Zealand. I was so exhausted both physically and mentally, I had no idea that night that Yoga would literally save my life.
My practice began in a local village hall and to begin with was just one night a week. Immediately, Monday night was my time out, to retreat and find a sense of ease in my broken body and a sense of calm to my shattered nerves. The teacher was an amazing woman from Chile, whose love of the practice knew no bounds, she was beyond passionate. So passionate in fact, that our one and a half-hour class would often last at least two and a half hours. Her classes were Hatha based with a lovely mix of meditation and restorative yoga interwoven. It was the perfect mix, especially for someone brand new to the practice.
After a little while, I began to attend one of her midday practices and slowly found the confidence to roll out my mat at home and slowly (and shyly) I started to develop a rather basic and quite crude home practice. Quite often, the thought of getting on the mat was daunting and not something that I really wanted to do in itself, but I knew the huge benefits that it would bring at the end. The space and sense of ease that my poor body would enjoy, the calming of my nerves (believe me they were frazzled), and the sense of calm and joy that replaced my all-to-common state of anger.
Once we arrived in New Zealand in 2008, Andy and I both left behind the yoga mat and instead turned our attention to Triathlon!! I know on my part that the reasoning behind this was something of a midlife crisis. I was turning 40 in 2010, and in some way thought that hammering myself with three disciplines 13 times a week would somehow hold back the years…How wrong I was!
Long story short, in 2012 after another big health scare, I returned to the mat and this time I knew it had to be a lifelong, lifestyle decision. Within three classes back on the mat my symptoms started to disappear and my health immediately started to improve. Within 6 months both Andy and I commenced our Yoga Teacher Training together and Empower Studio was born.
When I initially got back on the mat, my practice was heated Power Vinyasa, which at the time I enjoyed, however, it was another stress on my body (once an A-type, always an A-type). After several months I got the timetable mixed up and accidentally turned up to a Yin class. I would have gone home but I’d driven 23 kilometers so reluctantly decided to stay. And good thing I did as it turned out to be just what I needed and a life-changing experience once again. It gave me that sense of peace which I use to feel back in the Lakes with Gabby my original yoga teacher; who had so skilfully interwoven Hatha, restorative and meditation into one class. My practice started to expand.
In 2015, I went with my good friend Shirley to Auckland for four days of Teacher Tune-up with the amazing Noah Maze. From the very first morning, I knew I had found my new teacher. We began the four days with an Alignment based workshop breaking down upward facing dog. I was literally blown away by the skill of how Maze would take us so mindfully and intelligently into our own body, without forcing, without ego but with compassion and care.
I signed up for a year’s worth of training with him and traveled to Christchurch 5 times during the period to complete my 300-hour YTT. It was, without a doubt, one of the best things I ever did. Not only did it change my own practice forever but it shaped the way I teach now.
My vision is to take our students on a journey into their bodies, working with their intelligent edge to find space where it’s needed and strength where it’s required. In my own practice, I recognise the importance of modifying postures for my own skeletal issues and idiosyncrasies, and this is my baseline for all who join me on the mat. No two bodies are the same, and no two bodies look the same, so how can we all look the same in any given Asana. Let us never forget that the Asana in itself is a means to get into our bodies and develop a deeper understanding of it. It is not about using our bodies to get into a pose.
Due to the life-changing injuries I endured, my discovery of yoga shaped my life and ultimately the way I now teach today. I believe in a strong emphasis on anatomy and alignment in all my classes and share this with my clients to achieve a balance of muscular strength, and a healthy degree of flexibility, to support long-term health, well-being, and happiness.