Get to Know a Yogi with Krista Marie Starr

Katie Ness
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As her name suggests, Krista really is a bright star in the yoga world. Her enchanting yet personal ‘Mornings’ video catapulted her into an online sensation, and her classes are known for being deeply insightful and playful. As a yoga teacher, philosophy scholar and Reiki practitioner, Krista enjoys fusing her holistic skills with elements of mysticism. It is this mixture of organic, earthy substance with exuberant sweetness and a touch of magic that gives this yoga teacher her appeal. It is a blessing to encounter such a lovely soul.
 
If you have yet to see this beautiful video of Krista here it is for you enjoyment.
 

 
(YogiApproved) It is so lovely and such an honor to be interviewing you Krista! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your love story with yoga?

(Krista) It’s hard to choose which angle to begin telling this story from. I feel that every avenue of my life, from living in poverty and trauma as a child, to being angry and rebellious as a teen, to the ways I’ve risen up and radically changed my life in my twenties and the various ways I’ve re-identified myself . . . all of these would be a long tale in themselves and how they have participated in my journey to the practice.

I won’t say that yoga has saved me, or has changed my life. Yoga is the process by which I have realized deeper truths of who I am and every moment in that truth is what has changed me. I have a long way to go but the practice has been one of learning to love myself, letting go of pain, tapping into something so much deeper than myself, and finding a path of service.
 

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(YA) Tell us about your journey from student to teacher – what made you make that decision and what yoga style are you trained in?

(Krista) In truth, this path isn’t one that I chose but rather one that became clear that I was to follow. I was on a completely different trajectory when I met my teacher Darren Rhodes from Arizona doing a weekend workshop here in Toronto. By the end of the workshop I knew I needed to study further with him, without a clear idea of what that meant in the long run. I pondered it for a few days not knowing how that was supposed to happen since I was a student at the time and was very limited in finances. A week later, a production company asked if they could film a scene using my fire escape out of my apartment and the money they gave me as compensation was exactly what I needed for a flight and a bit towards the cost of the first round of training.

I sent an email asking Darren if he would accept me as his student and a week after that I was on a plane heading to Tucson. I spent the next year flying back and forth every few months for the next round of training. It was an intense year. At one point I had four part-time jobs, was a full time university student, as well as being in the process of teacher training. But the right people, places, and things kept showing up at the right moment to make it clear that this was a path I needed to be on.

I completed my 200-hour training under Darren Rhodes and Christina Sell in Tucson, Arizona in a style of yoga called Anusara. In the years since then I have studied in countless trainings that span several different styles, including Ashtanga, Yin, Therapeutics, and Sanskrit. I have spent some time in India seeking knowledge and experience. In addition, I have studied the history of Yoga and Ayurveda, the Indian Epics, Buddhism, and Indian Philosophy while in University.
 

 
(YA) Based on your experiences, do you have any advice for aspiring teachers?

(Krista) One piece of advice that my teacher Christina Sell gave during teacher training was “you always teach before you feel you’re ready,” which I understood as there is always another book, workshop, training, teaching that we as teachers need and should learn and grow from, but it is by taking the seat of the teacher that you become one.

Importantly, you need to balance this willingness to take the seat of the teacher with a deep level of humility. We are not gods, or demi-gods, or super-human. Each of us is on the path in different ways, and the only separation between teacher and student is being in the position of service and acting as a light on the path so others can see a little more clearly. If a student asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to, don’t pretend. Be open and vulnerable enough to say, “I don’t know, but I would love to help you figure that out” and then go on that journey with them.

Also . . . be a student always. Adhikara, studentship, is essential to being a teacher.
And practice. A lot. And not just asana. Go for the deep stuff.
 

 
(YA) What yoga pose or poses are speaking to you right now?

(Krista) Right now I love poses like parivrtta trikonasana (revolved triangle), ardha chandrasana (balancing crescent moon), navasana (boat pose) and plank pose for the stabilizing and equalizing that they do for my body and practice which is so important for me because I fall into the category of hyper-mobile and need to work really hard to have integrity in postures.
 

 
(YA) Favorite music to practice to?

(Krista) World Music. It can move me like no other. It’s like the musicians have somehow tapped into the pulse of the earth itself and if you let yourself, you can be drawn into the revelry, which is both joyful and tragic, a celebration that also speaks to the deep longing of the heart which is like thunder in the night.
 

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(YA) What does yoga represent to you?

(Krista) To me, yoga represents the culmination of everything I have ever looked for as an outlet, a means to both integrate and apply all that I love as a source of service, celebration of beauty and light, and a conduit for depth and truth.

 
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(YA) Please tell us a bit about your teaching style.

(Krista) I would say it is alignment-based vinyasa for the most part, though I love teaching a deep intense Hatha class or long slow yin. I am heavily influenced from my Anusara training and by my teachers Darren and Christina as well as by the martial arts, dance, and gymnastics that I have dabbled in. There is usually some energetic work done in my classes, either some Qi Gong, visualization, or breath work – sometimes all three. And while I don’t do a classic theme for every single class I teach, there is always some depth work, moments of invitation for reflection, or commenting on a teaching or philosophy that is really speaking to me.
 

 
(YA) You have many beautiful tattoos – can you tell us a little bit about some of them – the meaning and stories behind them?

(Krista) I am blessed to have a best friend who is a talented tattoo artist who has managed to capture little bits of my spirit in the work she has put on me. We are currently in the middle of putting a sleeve on me, full of wildflowers, butterflies, a raven and some sacred geometry. In terms of the meaning behind the imagery, how about this . . . when you or anyone reading this meets me in person, I will gladly answer any question or tell a story behind one of my tattoos.
 

 
(YA) The ‘Mornings’ video collaboration you created with Viktor Čahoj and Devon Burns is magical. It is a breath of fresh air in the yoga world to see something so organic and personal. Could you tell us how this video came to fruition and what made you decide to create it in a personal space instead of a studio environment?

(Krista) Viktor is an old dear friend of mine. He was one of my first students, who would come over to my place and let me practice teaching. He is an amazing cinematographer and one day he sent me a message saying he had a fancy camera for the weekend and wondered if I wanted to shoot a little yoga video in my apartment for a project him and his friend Devon were working on. The day before the shoot I was playing around and figured out a sequence of poses that I was really enjoying at the time, and the next day they came over and we created the video.

I think it comes across as organic and personal because that is exactly what it was: good friends who know me very well came over to my home and filmed my practice. And they did an amazing job. Holy smokes. Blown away by them and what they created.

There is some talk of making another video. Can’t speak too much of it yet, but I will let you know as soon as I can.
 

 
YA: Congratulations on graduating with your degree in Philosophy with a double minor in Political Science and Religion. How did these subjects inspire your yoga practice, your teaching, and your lifestyle? Do you have plans for the future to study other themes and topics?

(Krista) You know, I almost didn’t finish my degree. I had become quite disenchanted with academia and had taken a bit of time off to delve deeper in yoga and martial arts. That’s when I was flying back and forth to Tucson from Toronto and it was on one of my trips while talking with Darren that I told him I was contemplating not finishing school and moving to Tucson. Basically, I wanted to leave my entire life behind and seek enlightenment in the desert. Darren was horrified and sent me home heartbroken. He made it clear that my sadhana was to finish school.

So I went back and changed my degree, even though it would take me a bit longer. I went from doing a joint specialist in Poli Sci and Philosophy to majoring in Philosophy and adding a minor in Religion so I could take classes in subjects like Tibetan Buddhism, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana, all of which have greatly influenced my teaching. In Western Philosophy I discovered Phenomenology, which was a game changer. Such rad stuff.
 


 
YA: What I love about you and from images on your Instagram is that you include elements of magic into your life with your Tarot cards, your words, your travel photos and the way you view life. Has the magical always been a part of you, and what made you decide to present this alongside your yoga?

(Krista) I definitely don’t think I’m alone as a yoga teacher with deep integration in and love of the mystical. Many of my dearest friends and fellow teachers are alongside me in that.

For myself, I’ve always been drawn to mystery. The hidden aspects of what is going on within and around us. For me, yoga is the process of enveloping into that; there is no separation of the mystical and yoga in the way I teach and practice. Magic isn’t some strange outside force that is separate from everyday life. Magic is opening up to the truth of the moment, the whole of reality. I like things like Tarot as a tool and as a map to get into the subconscious stuff that is hard to access through just mulling things over, though it’s important to not get overly reliant on these tools as if they were the truth itself rather than just the mechanism you use to get deeper into the truth that is already within you.

“With light in your eyes and grace at your feet, live with laughter and lead with lustre.” -Krista Marie Starr

Thank you so much Krista for taking the time to answer some of our questions, it’s been a pleasure!
 
If readers would like to connect with Krista or learn more about her you can visit her website, kristamaristarr.com, like her Facebook page and follow her on Instagram.
 

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Katie Ness

Katie Ness is an Ayurvedic Yoga teacher, Reiki teacher, Women’s Circle facilitator, belly dancer and artist from the UK. As a traveling yogini, she has visited over 20 countries and plans to facilitate international Yoga and Sacred Feminine retreats. She spends her free time illustrating in her nature journal, writing poetry, reading an absurd amount of books, playing with her tarot cards, or crafting dreamcatchers. Katie is currently studying herbalism and botanical illustration.

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