CSUN alumna finds herself through yoga

Two women participate in a yoga session
Karina Winkler and Joanna Dela Cruz in extended side angle pose at Follow Your Heart Center on Sherman Way. "This [teaching yoga] is something that's making her [Winkler] happy and she's going to express that through what she's doing," Dela Cruz said. Photo credit: Jessica Herrera

CSUN alumna and yoga instructor Karina Winkler now provides the San Fernando Valley community with a place to unwind.

The 24-year-old recently completed her yoga teacher training and has big plans for her journey.

“Like all yoga communities, the San Fernando Valley yoga community serves a diverse population with many different needs and styles,” Winkler said. “I feel very encouraged by the warm and welcoming atmosphere my fellow yoga teachers give off and find it to be truly inspiring and uplifting.”

Winkler teaches at Follow Your Heart Center in Canoga Park on Sherman Way and will also teach two free classes at Athleta on Topanga Canyon this month. In the next few weeks, she will host donation-based beach and park yoga in Santa Monica and various parks in the valley.

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After an hour long yoga class last Friday, the students got together with Winkler for a group photo at Follow Your Heart Center in Canoga Park. From left to right Mackela N., Joanna Dela Cruz, Karina Winkler, Rosenda Pelaez, Grisselda Ramirez and Ramirez’s daughter. Photo credit: Jessica Herrera

 

Along with teaching yoga, Winkler believes workshops are great ways to dive deeper into a particular aspect of yoga and wellness. She will be co-host an “Intro to Essential Oils” workshop on March 18 and an all-inclusive “Chakra Balancing” workshop in April.

For Winkler, yoga is more than just exercise. She describes the impact in her life as transformational and awakening.

“I am able to see the world through more empathetic eyes and am able to better understand that things do not have to affect me if I do so choose,” Winkler said. “Yoga has helped me realize that we create our realities by deciding how we digest the situations that occur around us. It has taught me to be more forgiving with myself and reminded me to give myself love the way I would my friends and family.”

CSUN alumna and Winkler’s sorority sister, Joanna Dela Cruz, said Winkler has always been passionate about doing what makes people happy. Dela Cruz added that Winkler is a free spirit and embodies what yoga is about.

Yoga instructor Douglas Milliron was one of the instructors to lead Winkler through her teacher training in Westlake Village. Milliron said Winkler is a generous soul who cares for people and that’s why people are drawn to her.

“She sees the world through other people’s perspectives,” said Milliron. “She is learning to deepen her connection to those who need her help and is also learning how to protect herself from negative energy.”

Winkler has practiced yoga on-and-off for about six years. After getting hired at an international marketing firm, she realized sitting at a desk for 10 hours did not make her happy. She quit her office job and would go to the SRC on campus to find clarity. She took yoga classes from Kari Cowell, a teacher at the SRC, and approached her about becoming a teacher.

“I feel more awake in the sense that I have better awareness of my body, thoughts, emotions and intentions,” Winkler said. “I have a better understanding of how I operate as a person, and how it differs from other people, and the measures I need to take in order to feel healthy and happy.”

Winkler likes to gain a greater understanding of her students’ problems to help them be their happiest and healthiest the best way she can. She carries a holistic approach toward her students and asks them more about their situations rather than just focusing on yoga postures.

“The only thing I truly want to encourage is to follow your passion, not money,” Winkler said. “If you are passionate about something and you have the honor of doing it every day, money is irrelevant. Every person has a light, a story and a lesson to share with the world to help it evolve.”

More information about Winkler and her classes can be found on her Instagram at @karina_uu and on her website.