Photo: Grace Duffield / Hearst Connecticut Media
NEW CANAAN — Kaia Yoga owner Gina Norman, has taught yoga for more than 20 years, and is now offering yoga and meditation classes both online and in her new studio at 121 Park St.
Norman started in Greenwich Yoga 15 years ago, and has since changed the Greenwich location to Kaia yoga while opening four other locations in Westport, Darien, Old Greenwich and now New Canaan.
“Yoga is my main passion.” Norman said. Prior to opening her own studio she taught in New York City for “many, many years.“ Her businesses spans from educating the beginner to teacher training.
Yoga “is the only practice that actually works on studying yourself. You can run and get better at running. You can play tennis and you can get better at tennis. But there is nothing introspective that works on not only studying the body” she said, “but also the mind.”
“We are a beginner-friendly studio and there is an option for everybody, we have many types of yoga that we offer,” Norman said.
“We are a place you can grow with, you can start yoga here or you can come in as a practitioner that knows yoga and you are going to find an advance practice,” she said.
She said she has “some of the most comprehensive teacher training programs, not only in Connecticut, but in the Northeast, with 200-and-300-hour programs” that culminate with an Alliance Yoga teaching certification.
The teacher training offers a “wide array of yoga related skills,” including restorative, therapeutics, women’s health, children, chair yoga and many more.
“We have a whole comprehensive 100-hour teacher training program for meditation that takes you through different levels,” she added.
“One of the things that stands out about Kaia Yoga, we teach wakefulness in our classes. Norman said. “We are really teaching you how to wake up that mindfulness part.”
For the general public, she offers two types of online programs as well as classes in studio.
One online program is interactive, in which “the teacher gives feedback and alignment cues, so you are really, really taking the class,” Norman said.
She also provides livestreamed classes that are in the studio. “You can participate in the class, but you are not going to gain feedback like you are in the interactive.”
She has not been immune to the impact of the coronavirus on her business and says yoga and meditation helped her cope with the changes.
During the initial gym shutdown, she responded quickly by getting “100 classes online in three days,” she said.
She downsized her 10,000-square-foot Westport location, which had a classroom that accommodated 90 students prior to the pandemic.
She reduced her staff. Prior to COVID-19, Kaia Yoga had nearly 120 teachers, which has been brought down to closer to 60.
Even in her new studio, a classroom that could have held classes for 18 to 22 students, now has a capacity of eight.
To help herself and others cope with stress she offers a free meditation every morning at 6:30 a.m. online at Kaiayoga.com.
A mindfulness practice for twenty minutes a day, “is like flossing, it has got to be done, if you don’t, you don’t have the base to see what else you need,” she said.
“In yoga we believe there is not just muscles and veins and pathways that move blood through the body, but we believe that there are pathways that move energy through the body,” she said.
“We connect and start to understand how the mind and stresses input into our body, we can use the breath to clear them out,” Norman said.
“I am a very practical person,” she added.
She only teaches mindfulness meditation, “because it is non dogmatic, it doesn’t rely on anything that anybody can’t do. Mindfulness meditation is scientific. If you train your mind to be present in a certain way, everything else will improve,” Norman said.
“When you are still with yourself and your breath and there is nothing else there, you start to listen And when you start to listen, you start to trust your intuition,” she said.
When she teachers about Chakras, which are seven focal points in the body that are often thought to be centers of spiritual powers, she offers a pragmatic explanation to her students.
“Colors, emotions and stories have been associated with them,” she said but they are “just electromagnetic points throughout your body,“ and “part of a clearing system in your body.”
She offers both yoga and meditation, with an unlimited online and in-studio classes for $169 monthly and drop-ins for $30 each. She offers class cards for five, 10 or 20 people for discounted per unit costs.
Unlimited virtual classes cost $79 monthly, with the first month $39.
People can sign up by calling 203-594-1427 or by emailing [email protected].
“Yoga is the worst business model, because ultimately what I am trying to do is to teach you a practice that you can do anywhere, anytime, on your own,” Norman said, “because that is all it requires is yourself.”