Homer woman hopes to pass on inspiration
A lifelong seeker of connection to herself and the world around her, Kayla Spaan found what she was looking when she moved from Anchorage to Homer in 2009.
"I was putting a lot of energy out and not putting enough back in. I could be really muscularly tight, hungry and edgy, and my mind was all over the place," she said. "I decided to try yoga as a way to take care of myself and bring balance into my life."
Spaan shared that she noticed a difference immediately.
"Yoga allowed me to access a deeper sense of clarity and calm, which helped improve my quality of life and relationships," she said.
In 2012, inspired by the teachers around her and eager to share with others what she was learning, she took yoga teacher training courses and began teaching classes to local youth and adults. One of her goals was to hold a space of transformation for her students.
"Yoga offers so many lessons, reflections and moments of inner connectedness," she said. "I've learned that there's no separation between anything, and being on the journey of mind, body and spirit is so effective in my own well-being and self-care."
Today, Spaan continues to teach yoga to community members of all ages, and is also a co-owner of the Many Rivers yoga center. For her, yoga is more than just the poses; it's the lifestyle.
"Making food, giving back and being of service are as important as being able to let my mind relax and to be receptive to the flow of energy in life," she said. "It's about being in a love-centered place and a place of authentic power in my own life."
Spaan teaches a variety of classes, including flower yoga, prenatal yoga and yoga for women, and is planning to expand her class offerings in the new year to include a Vinyasa-flow style of class.
As passionate as she is about the connection that comes from yoga, Spaan also values self-reliance and connection with the land, and has been learning from local farmers and gardeners while she cares for a small garden at Many Rivers until she can have a farm of her own. She would like to help create a self-sustaining local community, where individuals would live in efficient, earth-friendly homes and where people would take care of one another.
"We have a lot of ability to be self-reliant here, through our gardens, the natural materials around us, like clay, straw, hay, natural wood, timbers, bones and earth," she said. "And I would like to help empower people to be kind and considerate while living self-sufficiently."
Another way Spaan nurtures connection is through art. When she was 14-years-old, she decided she wanted to be an artist.
"I identified with the artists I knew about at the time - Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keefe, Grace Slick, Anias Nin and Niki de Saint Phalle, and I wanted to be like them," she said. "I saw that art had a way of percolating culture and unifying people, and I wanted to be involved with that kind of creativity and lifestyle."
In Homer, she has worked in papermaking and printmaking, offering private art classes to children and adults.
"Like yoga, creative arts is a tool you can use to express yourself, process your experiences, and is something you can develop, share and use to take you to the next level of spiritual growth," she said. "We're all really creative, have different ways of expressing ourselves and have really special gifts through our individual creative capacities."
Spaan also finds connection through time in nature. She fell in love with the natural environment of the area as a youth, during one of her family's many trips from their home in Anchorage to Homer and Seldovia.
"We'd spend a week out there, collecting clams, looking at sea stars, sand dollars, moss, watching seals and otters and playing on buoy swings," she said. "Nature has such a restorative power and is always so balancing and healing."
Immersing herself in the natural world, Spaan was inspired to study plant medicine after read "Discovering Wild Plants," by Janice Schofield, in 2008.
"This spoke to a deep part of my soul, learning that plants have all this medicine, that we don't have to just go to a doctor or take pills, that our body does the healing and the plants help," she said.
Spaan utilizes the healing properties of plants in her flower yoga classes, drawing inspiration from their themes of seed, sprout, flower, fruit and death. At home, she uses plants to make teas and infusion oils for herself, friends and family. She is hoping to make sharing her knowledge of plant medicine a bigger part of her life.
Finding her sense of inner connectedness within the Homer community, through yoga, self-sufficiency, art, nature and teaching, Spaan strives to inspire others.
"I hope to inspire others to be more loving and self-aware so that they feel stronger and more connected within themselves," she said. "Life is full of challenges and that's why I love yoga so much; it takes me down to the essence of the truth in a situation where I can then take a breath, see the challenge as an opportunity and be grateful."