Monday, September 14, 2009


Due to difficulties with the Total Health Yoga web site host, Stokia, the previous email and web site are no longer available. I realize this is a fraction of what was available on the site, but here is some of the most pertinent information:



Private classes available in Menomonee Falls or where you live

$10 off for multiple 1-hour classes paid for at once

$65/hour at the Menomonee Falls Home Studio

$75-105/hour, based on distance from Home Studio, at your home or workplace

More than one person? Add $5/extra person

To schedule or ask questions, please call Kris at 414-708-5750 or email

Group Schedule

Mondays 5:30-7:00 pm @ First Unitarian Milwaukee 414-273-5257
Tuesdays 5:30-7:00 pm @ Menomonee Falls Home Studio 414-708-5750
Wednesdays 9:00-10:30 am @ First Unitarian Milwaukee 414-273-5257

Please call the numbers above or Kris at Total Health Yoga (414-708-5750) to verify class schedule or for rate details. For the Tuesday night class you may also email

Who is Total Health Yoga

Total Health Yoga is a small business owned and operated by Kris Kramer. Here's a short bio about myself:

I am a Certified Yoga Teacher from Deep Peace Yoga with Todd Norian in a Yoga Alliance approved program. Yoga entered my life around 1999, and I began teaching in 2002. Throughout my studies, many teachers have shared pieces of their knowledge with me. The ones that have really stuck out are Donna Farhi, Erich Schiffmann, John Friend, Rodney Yee, Doug Keller, Aadil Palkhavala, and Rod Stryker.

In 2008, I began to move towards the Viniyoga style which involves moving in and out of positions with the breath. Viniyoga has a very therapeutic nature about it and stresses the individual. As a matter of fact, most Viniyoga classes are done one-on-one. In group classes everyone is encouraged to listen to their body and adapt the poses to fit them--not the other way around.

I've had the privilege to work with Gary Kraftsow, founder of the American Viniyoga Institute, on a couple of occasions and have studied this style with literature by the Mohan's, Desikachar, and Kraftsow.

Aside from Yoga, my interests and studies involve other walks of life, such as Tai Chi, Native American Spirituality, and living a conscious and aware life. All of this is reflected in my teachings. As new knowledge comes my way, I share it in classes.

Testimonials and Class Descriptions

Available upon request.


Classes at First Unitarian: If, for any reason, a class is missed during a session, you may make up the class, at any location, within 8 weeks of the missed class. If you are unable to attend a make up class, you are welcome to bring a guest or “give” the missed class to someone else.

Classes at Home Studio: These classes run on a package system, which already has built in time to miss a class or more, depending on the package you select. If you miss and want to make it up, you are welcome to attend a class at First Unitarian within 10 weeks of the missed class.

Snow or Inclement Weather: If the weather is questionable, call 414-708-5750 to verify if a class has been cancelled. Class cancellations will be determined at least one hour prior to class start time.
Cancelled classes due to weather will NOT be re-scheduled and package passes will NOT be extended. They will be treated like any missed classes; see above procedures for options in this case.

Refunds: There are no refunds. If you are signed up for a session or package and simply cannot make the classes, you are allowed to transfer your session or package to someone else.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Asthma Help - Love the Exhale!

Every year it seems more people I know have asthma. I'm not sure if it's age, diet, environment, or something totally different.

Regardless there is a quick breathing technique that can be very helpful:

Inhale through the nostrils and take long slow exhales through the mouth with a straw. The inhales remain through the nose, but each exhale imagine a feather on the end of the straw and breath out so smoothly and slowly that this imaginary feather barely moves. Use the abdominals to gently lengthen the out breath. Then release the belly and let the inbreath come in naturally. Do this 10-12 times.

Many people diagnosed with asthma focus on the inhale which is the first mistake. An inhale has nowhere to go if a full exhale hasn't preceded it! So exhale deep and long first. This will also slow the heart rate and lower anxiety which easily aggravates an asthmatic condition.

Finally, when inhaling don't force it; just relax the belly and the breath will deepen as the exhales deepen.

By the way, this technique is wonderful for anyone looking to calm down and release tension.

Best of luck!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Taking a Break

To all of you that have checked in, commented, or followed this blog, thank you. Currently my life is taking on some transitions and I find transitioning easier when my energy is on where I am going and taking more time to clean up--literally, I'm talking the piles on the desk, at the bedside, and spewed about the kitchen counter. Between that, the kids being home for school break, and our wonderful--all too short--summer finally here, I find taking time to blog is like a task instead of a joy. Being someone that likes to limit tasks and increase joy, this blog will be inactive, at least for the time being.

If you're looking for an inspirational and authentic yoga blog there are many out there. Doug Keller at gets deep into the philosophy and is one of the kindest gentlest people I've ever met. Nadine Fawell at is filled with love, honesty, and really embodies (in my opinion) what the yogic path is about. There are other wonderful ones out there, these are just two with very different voices on similar paths.

My facebook (through and my email are still up at least for now.

Thanks again and may I part with these words from Yogi Tea,

Travel light,
live light,
spread the light,
be the light.

Follow your own path, everyone elses is already taken,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, June 8, 2009


This is amazing!

Choose Love,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Spiritual Beings

My son, Jake, just posted the following on Facebook:

"Man and god are one and the same. Man need only strip away the illusion of god as we see him now and see the truth. Man is not god.......god is man. - Jake Kramer(to the best of my knowledge)"

He's 14.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Master Yoda

Is Yoda a Yogi?

Okay, so he's short, green and has three toes--not your typical yogi. I've yet to see him doing trikonasana (triangle) or suyra namaskar (sun salutation). However, his wisdom is profound and universal.

So what is a yogi? Just because someone practices asanas (hatha yoga postures) or teaches a yoga class does that make them a yogi? Krishnamacharya (the father of most yoga practiced today) said, "Anyone who claimed to be a yogi, wasn't." (pg. 23 Yoga and the Living Tradition of Krishnamacharya) Even though this great master, who only allowed the title "Professor" to be bestowed upon him, may not have called himself a yogi, those around him would say he was. Looking to his son, T. K. V. Desikachar for a definition of yogi we find the following: "[A yogi is] someone adept at yoga." (pg. 242 The Heart of Yoga)

Pantanjali laid out a concise definition of yoga 2000 years ago in the Yoga Sutras. "Yoga is the restriction of the whirls of consciousness." (pg 215 The Yoga Tradition) So to be precise, perhaps no one alive today is truly a yogi. But Yoda does move entire ships with shear concentration and oneness with his surroundings. That's gotta count for something!

Additionally, notice some of the wise words that this sage brings us and the correlations to yoga wisdom:

"Try not. Do or do not, there is no try." (Simply "do your work in the peace of yoga, free from selfish desires, not moved by success or failure." pg 223 The Bhagavad Gita in Yoga Masters)

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (Fear stems from thoughts of loss--loss of materials, relationships, respect, or life itself. To see that we are not our things, relationships, attitudes, or even our physical bodies is part of the self-actualization that yoga brings. When we know this, fear disappears.)

“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.” (We practice savasana -- corpse -- at the conclusion of almost every class to remind us that death is part of life. To bring us back to Source and temporarily release the physical body.)

“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” (Svadhayaya, self-study, is one of the attitudes Pantanjali cites as part of the practice of yoga.)

"Energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship." (Samadhi--the highlight of meditation--is to merge with an object.)

"[Luke:] I can’t believe it. [Yoda:] That is why you fail." ("The mind controls the body." pg 44 Japanese Yoga)

"Feel the force!" ("We are one with the universe, we are therefore imbued with the energy of the universe..." pg 27 Japanese Yoga)

So what do you think? Is Yoda a yogi?


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Daily Words of Wisdom

Thanks to Heather Walton in California for typing all these words of wisdom from Yogi Tea bags. I took the liberty to omit two of them, due to word choices that didn't resonate with me. Several of the ones below touch my heart deeply, and my hope is that you, too, will gain from these reminders of who we are and how to live.

"The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment."

"Delight the world with compassion, kindness and grace."

"Laugh because that is your purpose in life."

"Happiness is every human beings birthright."

"Real happiness lies in that which never comes nor goes, but simply is."

"Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light."

"Bliss cannot be disturbed by gain or loss."

"Compassion has no limit. Kindness has no enemy."

"Appreciate yourself and honor your soul."

"Grace brings trust, appreciation, love and compassion."

"Love is where compassion prevails and kindness rules."

"An attitude of gratitude brings opportunities."

"Recognize that the other is you."

"Life is a flow of love; your participation is requested."

"Where there is love there is no question."

"The best way to life is to be, simply be."

"When you know that all is light, you are enlightened."

"Your head must bow to your heart."

"Your greatness is not what you have, it's what you give."

"Your greatest strength is love."

"Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."

"All that is needed is surrender and gratitude."

"The soul is projection. Represent it."

"To be calm is the highest achievement of the self."

"There is nothing more precious than the self."

"The universe is the stage on which you dance, guided by your heart."

"There is no love without compassion."

Dare to Love When You Think You Cannot,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ashtanga Yoga - Jois leaves the world of form

Thanks to Nadine Fawell for bringing it my attention that Sri K Pattabhi Jois passed away on May 18, 2009 after gracing this earth for over 90 years.

Jois studied with Krishnamacharya, the father of most yogas today. Taking his own views on hatha yoga and using the knowledge he had acquired, Ashtanga Yoga was born.

Today Ashtanga Yoga is one of the most popular styles in America. While questing for a style that suited me over the last decade or so, Ashtanga was one of the paths I followed for a brief period. Although it did not speak to me personally, the impact Jois had on the world and thousands of people is commendable--his dedication and strength, admirable.

I know that my next practice--regardless of what style I choose--will be dedicated to this devoted and much loved man.



Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Japanese Yoga

A friend and I have been emailing about the authenticity -- or lack thereof -- in many of the world famous yoga teachers today. I wonder if those that have fame and appear to have lost the true meaning of yoga and living a life of ahimsa (non-violence) began with inner peace and the challenges of being in such high demand threw them or if they never really "got it" to begin with.

The teachings found in Japanese Yoga by H. E. Davey align with what my heart tells me is true. This book crossed my path quite unexpectedly which makes it all the more divine.

A month or so ago, my son's Japanese class requested that I come in to teach them some yoga. After making sure they understood that Yoga was from India, and not Japan, I agreed. While investigating to see if there was any correlation between Japan and Yoga, the name Dr. Nakamura Tempu came up. He is known as "the father of yoga in Japan." Davey's book provides an interesting, if not fascinating, story of Dr. Nakamura's life.

I am only about a quarter of the way into the book, but so far it's very impressive and rings true to me. Here are a few excerpts that will give you an idea of the foundational mindset and attitude behind this style of yoga:

"I absolutely reject [the role of guru or spiritual authority]. To look to another for the truth is to miss the Way of the universe that's eternally right before our eyes. It's to attempt to see through the eyes of another person, and it is destined to result in delusion--the follower believes he's seen the truth, but he's only seen a reflection of the truth at best, and the leader believes he or she is doing something right because of the worshipful attitude of the followers." (pg 11)

"[We] are one with the universe, we are therefore imbued with the energy of the universe (ki in Japan, prana in India), and, as a result, we can learn directly from the universe itself." (pg. 27)

"[The] body acts as a reflection of the mind." (pg. 44)

The premise is that truth is only known when you experience it yourself. Davey continuously stresses the reader to perform the exercises repeatedly to see for yourself what is happening. The exercises I've used so far are about discovering for yourself the power of the mind in the body.

It's refreshing to find a teaching that truly guides the participant so that they may discover for themselves what is true instead of claiming it must be true because some yogi with a lot of experience or even an ancient text says so.

To finding your own inner guru,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Is Ear Candling Safe?

Is ear candling safe? Being into complementary and alternative medicine, I decided to try ear candling. It felt odd and was fun in a strange "let's-do-something-different" kind of way, but I really wondered if all the crap left in the candle could possibly have come out of my ear. Reputable sources claimed great concern over this procedure and warned against doing it. On the other hand, folks working at the local health store said it helped them greatly over the years.
So I decided to run an experiment to uncover the truth regarding this practice. The nice clean glass below served as the inside of a nice clean ear.

Next I placed the ear candle over the cup and lit it--just as you would do over your own ear if you were so inclined to use ear candles. The first thing I noticed was a large amount of sooty smoke filling the glass (our ear for this experiment). When it was done here's how the glass looked (remember this is what could be left inside your ear canal.

To give you a better picture, here's a clean spoon.

Now here's the same spoon after scooping out the gunk from the bottom of the glass (this is the junk left in your ear after candling).

Additionally, ear candling proponents claim that the inside of the candle will suck up the wax from your ear thus cleaning it out. To "prove" this, you can cut the candle open and see all the supposed ear wax. Below is a photo of the ear wax that was sucked up.

Of course, the only problem with this is that wasn't even over an ear!! But rather a completely clean glass!
So take my advise and stay away from this detrimental hoax.

In good health,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yoga is no laughing matter!! Or is it.... - Laughing Yoga

"My karma ran over my dogma.... "

"Some people talk about finding God, as if He or She could get lost."

"When two psychic friends met, one said: 'You are fine. How am I ?' "

(Jokes complements of

Reader's Digest reminds us in it's monthly column, "Laughter is the Best Medicine." This is not just a catching title; it's true!

Mayo Clinic sites various benefits of laughter such as stimulating the organs, increasing endorphins, relaxes the body while giving it a work out, increases circulation, aids with digestion, improves the immune system, and acts as a natural pain killer. Not to mention the fact that it's just plain fun!

In Hal Urban's book, Life's Greatest Lessons, he shares stories of how Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein used humor and play to break the tension of too much thinking. "[Edison not only maintained] hundreds of notebooks full of scientific equations, he filled several others with nothing buy jokes." As for Einstein, just take a look at the above photo and tell me this man didn't know how to have a good time.

So we all could use a good dose of laughter everyday, but what it that's just not happening? One suggestion is to do Laughing Yoga or go to the bookstore and find a comic book that really tickles you. (I've checked the web for joke sites, but found that the majority of them focused on slamming others.) Laughter Yoga offers a means to see if there is a Laughter Club near you. If not, think about starting one or at least rent some funny movies. One of my all time favorites is The Princess Bride.



Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What do Being Sick and Meditation have in common?

Dealing with my first cold in three years--ironically I came down with it at the tail end of a Florida vacation--I've noticed something odd about illness. Everything else seems to disappear. If someone has a fever, stuffy nose, or constant cough, there's little (if any) energy to think about anything or anyone else. The mind seems to crave relaxation and quiet. Personally I find a bath with my ears submerged while repeating inwardly, "I allow my mind to relax and be at peace," does wonders to relieve mental congestion.

Point is our typical thoughts disappear, at least mine do. Things that used to seem ever so important drop away as all inner resources are about healing. I realize this is only true for those that stay home from work to nourish themselves. I've been sick while caring for a baby and a toddler; let's just say that paints quite a different picture. But to stay in bed with some tea and allow your eyes to shut when they like and just to focus on the bodies needs is somehow meditative.

Now before you think I've gone off the deep end, let me explain. When we meditate, there is a hum or lightness to the body. The observer or witness takes over and thoughts are seen, but no longer control us. As meditation continues, a sense of calm inner peace soaks through us.

If we fight being ill, which I've done, the resistance builds and tension is felt everywhere. If we allow the illness to be there while focusing on nourishing the body and bringing it comfort, along with this acceptance is that same meditative detachment from the body, that same observation and peace.

Since I've been healthy for quite a while and love being in Florida, this particular illness baffles me. Being one that likes to learn from all of life's experiences, I look back on the vacation. I stretched my body every morning, skipped through Disney world (literally!), and enjoyed my mom's company. So, why get sick? Deepak Chopra advices we stop asking "why". Sound advice, yet I ask--slow learner I guess.

Thinking about it I realize that during the vacation, I didn't practice any hatha yoga or meditation. Days were packed and my mind and body were running on "excitement mode" for almost seven days straight. The adrenaline kept me moving and jumping; I felt like a kid again. This is all cool, but maybe, just maybe, my body and mind craved that down time. Peaceful time found during meditation and moving slowly with the breath. I was too busy having fun to even notice this lack of quiet--to busy loving the sun and warm temperatures--so my body decided it would force the time for stillness by getting sick.

I might not be correct in this reasoning, but just in case next time I'll just meditate!

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What Is Success

What constitutes a successful life? Society, parents, peers, and perhaps even our own minds frequently use the term 'success' synonymously with financial wealth, living in upscale neighborhoods, driving expensive cars, and holding certain jobs. I believe this idea hinders us in the path of true success.

This brings us to the question, then what is success? When we are stuck in the thinking mind, it is helpful to first still this inner chatter and preconceived ideas through yoga, meditation, or even a walk in the woods. So to determine what success meant to me personally, I took a long savasana (deep relaxation) after a hatha yoga practice and cleared my mind. Then I pulled out a journal and just wrote whatever came to me regarding the subject of success. This technique is a great way to let your inspiration and insight come through on any topic.

The result of this free-form idea gathering combined with some word changes brought out the following in acronym:

S - Silence
U - Unite
C - Creativity
C - Character
E - Excel
S - Solutions
S - Surrender

Silence: Take time to be in stillness and silence. This is were our inspiration and insights bubble up.

Unite: Unite your intentions and actions. First you must know what your intentions both globally, locally, long-term, and short-term are. Coming to a place of silence helps to set these intentions without ego getting in the way. Then observe your actions; do they align with your intentions?

Creativity: Don't be a cookie-cutout; be your own person with your own unique contributions to the world. Honor what works for you and remember that we each have an individual purpose or dharma. Be true to yourself and allow others to be true for themselves. (Yes, moms -- including myself -- this is really important for us to remember!)

Character: Act and live with character. Thomas Lickona has written a wonderful book -- if you can get past the preaching and strictness of it -- called Character Matters. Do you live, speak, think, and act with integrity, honesty, respect, honor, and gratitude? These words mean different things to different people. What do they mean to you? Do you find that you treat others with respect or honor, but not yourself?

Excel: Do your best. I hesitate to use the word "best" as you could do your "best" at work by never coming home. You could run a race and pass out from attempting to reach higher performance continuously. Sounds exhausting, right? Instead view "best" with the wise advice of the Chinese, "Do everything 70% of your maximum. Run 70% of your fastest. Eat 70% of what you can." The guideline isn't 30% or even 50%. So put forth effort without killing yourself or stressing out beyond your limits.

Solutions: Focus on solutions, not problems. It's wise to bring awareness to potential obstacles or challenges. But to stop there is where we may fail. To succeed, we must look at these issues and brainstorm for solutions. Free-form all ideas with wild abandon; you can always go back and remove ideas that you know won't work. But when we brainstorm in a a free format (no judgement) some pearls of insight just might surface.

Surrender: The Bhagavad Gita councils us to do our dharma (purpose) and then let the outcome go. When we act with integrity, awareness, and wisdom, that is enough. That is success. The result of our actions are none of our business. I've heard it said, "There's your business, other people's business, and God's business." The outcome of your actions pure of heart are God's business, not ours.

"Success is not so much what we have as it is what we are." ~ Jim Rohn

"Truth, self control, asceticism, generosity, non-injury, constancy in virtue — these are the means of success, not caste or family." ~ Mahabharata

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Yoga at Home

"Have you ever unrolled your yoga mat with the best of intentions to flow from one yoga pose to another, only to find that no ideas come to mind? You sit on your blanket and stare blankly into outer space waiting for inspiration to strike, or you search through the recesses of your mind trying to recall what the group yoga class did yesterday. Do you hear yourself saying things like, “Let’s see what posture came after that forward fold?” “Okay mind, now would be a fine time to remember what we did in class yesterday?” Do you plan to practice between classes, but when you sit down and get ready to begin, nothing happens? Does your body just sit there waiting for your mind to tell it what to do?" ~ except from Creating Your Own Yoga Practice

The spring air has giving me the oomph needed to complete some past projects and toss others out. With this in mind, I created an electronic (pdf format) book called, Creating Your Own Yoga Practice. The birth of this idea came almost three years ago after attending a teacher workshop and discovered how few people had any knowledge of the importance of ordering yoga postures. Additionally, it never fails when a new class starts up that the next week a handful of people wonder what to do when they get home. Even those of us with years of experience may find it difficult to come up with a flow of postures that move the body in a wise fashion.

There are numerous theories and opinions regarding the topic of sequencing, Creating Your Own Yoga Practice, contains elements of Anusara, Iyengar, and Para Yoga, which are all quite similar.

If you're interested in seeing sample pages, click here and here. The cost is $10, and you may order by emailing me at

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Improving Mental Health - Maintaining Weight Loss - (or gain)

Last week's post was based on admiration of Dr. Dyer's quote of the day; today I'd like to share with you another new blog--new to me--that has a great post suggesting Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health.

The American Diabetes Association says, "Approximately 64% of American adults are overweight or obese...." We all know that if we eat right and exercise, our bodies will respond. In high school, my 5' 1" body reached over 145 pounds. I refused to step on the scale again until I knew I had lost some weight. By the end of college, I was down to 96 pounds and had the child-sized wedding dress to prove it!

My weight and food problems stemmed wide and far. They were rooted in deep childhood issues. It wasn't until I began to love and appreciate myself and Life that the weight reached a comfortable zone (~115-120) and I felt fit and healthy. The point is, my body responded with I changed on the inside. Sure exercise and consciously considering what when in my mouth were a big part of it, but the yo-yo shifts in weight stopped when the reason I took care of my body was because I appreciated it and myself and not because I wanted to look or even feel a certain way.

In summary, physical fitness and watching what we eat is great, but until we pay attention to our mental health, attitude, and mindset, our physical health will, at best, be temporary.

Love Much--take care of yourself because you're worth it!


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Power of Intention

As many of you know, I admire Dr. Wayne Dyer and the wisdom he shares. Not that I agree with all of it, but overall his words resonate as Truth, and as Gandhi said,

"There is no God higher than Truth."

As usual, something Dr. Dyer wrote struck of chord of inner peace with me and thus I'm compelled to share it with you:

Practice the Power of Intention
"The power of intention is the power of love and receptivity. It asks nothing of anyone, it judges no one, and it encourages others to be free to be themselves. Remember:
You were intended out of love,
so you must be love in order to intend

If this speaks to you, feel free to check out his 'quote of the day' page, as this is where it came from.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!