Kirtan Smith

Kirtan Smith

My very first yoga role model was my Mom. She began living Bhakti yoga over 40 years ago and is still the embodiment of compassion, tolerance, patience and humility. Since my first Asana class at UCLA in 1996, Shiva Rea has been a major inspiration. Over the years I have studied with her in India, Costa Rica and Brazil. My first formal training was in Hatha Yoga with one of Brazil’s most renowned teachers, Regina Shakti. In fact, it was her, my “Brazilian Mom,” who first encouraged me to become a teacher. My first teaching job was at BodySoul Adventures in Brazil, thanks to Mike Mitchell, who early on saw my potential, even when I was squandering it. Also at BodySoul, when I asked the universe for help, it sent me Kimberly Johnson, who became a dear friend and teacher whom I have the upmost respect for. In NYC, Susan “Lippy” Orem helped me tremendously develop strong fundamentals and alignment awareness. The main teachers of the Urban Zen Foundation, Rodney and Colleen Saidman Yee, have also had a profound impact on my approach to life, and seeing everything as yoga.

Being born and raised in ashrams and temples around the world gave me a strong foundation in Sanskrit, the Vedas, and the myriad of yoga practices. A lifetime spent hiking in the Sequoias, surfing around the world, bathing in jungle waterfalls, and taking long walks in Central Park has given me a strong connection to and appreciation of nature that hopefully shines through in my classes. Arriving at my asana practice with the tattered body of an athlete used to contact sports has shaped my approach to yoga as a healing modality, and also given me great compassion and empathy for all my students who turn to yoga for physical and mental healing.

I hope that each and every student, in every class I teach, feels that I was there 100% for them, with them, engaged, excited and honored to be there. That I wasn’t going through the motions; that some kernel of wisdom or joy was passed on; that the teachings of all the great yogis and mystics of all ages flowed through me to them.

Inspiration is everywhere, all the time. The explosion of daffodils and tulips in the spring, standing under the showers of shedding orange and reddish leaves in the fall, the lone saxophonist playing under the bridge in Central Park, the Kirtaniyas igniting huge crowds, the afternoon sun glistening off the Chrysler building, the cool radiance of the full moon, the laughter of my nephews, the writings of Coelho, Rumi and TagoreUrban Zen pioneers, everyone, everywhere with the courage to follow their dreams...



Today was my first lesson with Kirtan Smith. Thanks to alignyo. It was a great experience. The lesson was 7 in the morning, and I personally hate mornings. But he maid it easy for me. He was warm in a cold weather, helped to each student to do their best and encouraged us to do more than we expect from ourselves. He said sometimes students are inspiration for teacher but truly his energy was something that helped to face long day.

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