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Meet Kerrie Hawkes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kerrie Hawkes.

Hi Kerrie, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I was born in Santa Cruz, CA and my family moved us overseas when I was about three years old. We spent the next seven years living in the Middle East, primarily Saudi Arabia. My dad was a school teacher and taught in Dhahran. We traveled a lot during those years and that influenced me so much. It fueled my passion for other cultures, art and the magic of this beautiful world. We moved back to Santa Cruz when I was ten, then I left for San Francisco after high school in 1994. I began practicing yoga in 1998 while in San Francisco and it soon became my passion. It was the only time my mind was quiet. I could feel connected to myself in a way I had never achieved before. In 2001 I moved to Los Angeles and discovered Center For Yoga on Larchmont where I immersed myself in yoga classes every day. I decided I wanted to teach and was about to take their teacher training program when Yogaworks bought the studio. I had no idea who Yogaworks was, what I found was a community of incredible teachers and like-minded students so I knew this was my place to study and my path.

In 2007, I took my 200 Hour training with Jeanne Heileman and Carmen Fitzgibbon. I went out into the world and taught for a few years and then decided to further my education by taking the advanced 300 Hour training at Yogaworks in 2010 with Anne Van Valkenburg as my mentor. I knew that I wanted to be certified through Yogaworks and become a teacher trainer. I have always had such a passion for the “why” and “how” of the practice and philosophy and anatomy held equal infatuation for me. I was certified in 2011 and began assisting teacher training which led to teaching a training of my own for Yogaworks. I continued my studies and took a Yoga Therapy training with Dani Ibarra and a Master Subtle Body training with Jeanne Heileman. I was a full-time instructor and trainer for Yogaworks when the pandemic hit in 2020 and suddenly everything I had built was gone. I had this beautiful community of students and teachers and I had to sort out how to pivot and stay connected to them for however long the quarantine lasted. I started offering group classes on the Zoom platform and continued teaching all of my private students on zoom as well in March of that year. Now a year later, I am so grateful for the community we have built together.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Becoming a yoga teacher is not often a smooth path to take, it doesn’t pay a lot when you begin and for many many years, I taught full time and worked 40 hours a week at another job. I gave up weekends to teach trainings and would sometimes find myself several months in without a day off. My passion for the practice and my belief that it should be shared with whomever is looking for it kept me pushing forward. The rigorous practice I had in my own life created some injuries over the years which guided me to study yoga therapy so I could help others work through physical issues. I have a wonderful husband, a supportive family and an amazing community of friends who were always so supportive emotionally, cheering me on to my goals and understanding when I couldn’t be around.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
When I started teaching, I was teaching my own practice which was a high-level vinyasa flow, then I found a passion for teaching beginners and knew I wanted to instruct all levels. Once you can teach a beginner you truly become a teacher. You can’t just recite poses, you really have to instruct a way into and out of them. I combined my passion for both flow and beginners and had the opportunity to develop an all levels class that was also challenging. I had 6am flow classes at YW Pasadena and YW Los Feliz five days a week that were taught by candlelight. For many years we watched the sunrise together. At the YW Larchmont location, I had an evening class that was so fun, I was proud that the room was filled with beginner to advanced yogis. That was a room that held laughter as well as meditation. At YW Koreatown, I was the teacher trainer and was involved in helping people develop a deeper practice. I became passionate about yoga therapy and took a training to allow me to be more valuable to my private students. I love going one on one with an individual to help them find a practice tailor made for them. I think I might be known as the teacher who allows you to find your own way. I don’t see this practice as boot camp and no one human body is alike. I tend to give options as we move through the practice so every person in the room can push to their own edge without injuring themselves along the way. I love getting to know my students and I love seeing them blossom.

What does success mean to you?
For me, success is connecting with other people by doing what I love. When I finally became a full-time teacher my mom said “Now you’ll never have to work another day in your life” because she knows that yoga isn’t work for me, it’s a pleasure. I feel that success is when a student discovers something within themselves that allows them to dig in and connect with that deepest part of what makes them who they are. It’s when someone becomes passionate about yoga philosophy because of the concepts I’ve introduced in class. Success is being a part of anyone’s journey for a long period of time so you see their practice grow and you are able to support them when they need it.

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