Expanding Access to the Movement Arts of Yoga, Dance and Gymnastics

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E Komo Mai! Welcome!

Registration for our Summer Special Session is underway!

Space is limited. Sign up now! Click here for more information.

Our MISSION is to expand access to the Movement Arts of Yoga, Dance and Gymnastics by providing classes and performance opportunities to individuals of ALL ages, abilities and means.

Our VISION is a world in which strengthened bodies, peaceful minds, compassionate hearts and joyous spirits work together to benefit all of earth’s inhabitants.

Keoni Movement Arts (KMA) is a qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. KMA does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, national and ethnic origin, disability or any other legally protected status.

The pictures above represent the vast array of teaching from around the world by our
Founder and President, Paul Keoni Chun.

About: Paul Keoni Chun, KMA’s Founder, was a competitive gymnast at Stanford University (B.A. in Human Biology with emphasis in Aspects of Youth Socialization). From 1997 – 2002, he developed a recreational gymnastics program, which offered classes for children, teens, and adults, at the McBurney YMCA Chelsea Center. He had a 20-year professional dance/acting career working with New York City based choreographers and performing in Off-Broadway (including Pan Asian Rep) and regional theaters and on television. He is designated as an “Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher” with Yoga Alliance. Currently, he teaches yoga professionally in the leading NYC Health Clubs, including Reebok and Equinox. He has over 17 years of experience teaching yoga, dance and gymnastics to individuals from 2 – 80+, and in particular, over 10 years of experience adapting yoga to individuals with special needs. As a result of the benefits that KMA’s work has provided for the community, NY1 News recognized him as a “New Yorker of the Week.”

The blog posts below highlight our recent classes, recitals and news events.

Please click here to see our current class offerings and our upcoming FREE EVENTS.

Introducing KMA from David Buffam on Vimeo.

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We are so honored that NY1 News recognized us as its “New Yorker of the Week” on February 7, 2014!

You may view a video of the segment on Keoni Movement Arts Youtube channel.

You may read the transcript of the segment on NY1 News website.

Dancing with Keoni (June 9, 2014)

Dancing with Keoni
(final version, May 2013)
a documentary by Gabriella Murillo
“A story of a dedicated dance teacher who brings the joy of movement to children with special needs.”

Dancing With Keoni- Final Cut from Gabriella Murillo on Vimeo.

Yoga playlist, May 2014

Some selections from my Playlist:

Ina (Imagine) by Keola Beamer and Raiatea Helm

Wind Beneath My Wings, sung by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Days of my Youth by Keola Beamer and Raiatea Helm

Shamanic Dream I and II by Anugama

Cool Aberrations and Soulful Filling by General Fuzz

Theme from Schindler’s List featuring Itzhak Perlman playing John William’s compositions

Om Namah Shivaya: Harmonies Version led by Vidura Barrios on the album The Supreme Heart of Shiva

Guiding Wisdom for your Practice — May, 2014

May 5 – 11:
Lao Tzu wrote:

Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry.

Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible
is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.

The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 76

Certainly, we practice yoga to keep our bodies supple. More importantly, though, we practice to keep our minds and hearts soft and supple.

A supple mind will keep one’s heart open, especially during hard times. An open heart will make the experience of life enjoyable.

Do not be disturbed by the current prevailing winds, if they seem to be going against you at the moment. The winds will always shift. If your mind and heart can remain supple during such times, you will prevail.

May your mind and heart be soft, supple … and free.

Metta offering:

May my mind and heart be soft and supple, … for the benefit of all beings everywhere.

May 12 – 18:
From the classic text, the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna:

You have control over actions alone,
never over its fruits.
Live not for the fruits of action,
nor attach yourself to inaction.
Established in yoga, O Arjuna,
perform actions having abandoned attachment
and having become balanced in success and failure.
For balance of mind is called yoga.
– Chapter 2, Verses 47 – 53

When practicing yoga, if you can control your breath, and not worry about the posture that results from your best actions taken, your mind will ripple less. Thus, it will know balance.

Metta offering:

May I take actions, whether I succeed or fail.
May my mind remain balanced, … for the benefit of all beings everywhere.

May 19 – 25:
Lao Tzu continued:

Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it.

The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
but few can put it into practice.

Therefore the Master remains
serene in the midst of sorrow.
Evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping,
he is people’s greatest help.

True words seem paradoxical.
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 78

In every yoga posture, add a yielding quality to it.
Keep your breath fluid and your mind will follow.
Things are always changing. Nothing is solid.
Knowing this can be of great help to those you love.

Metta phrase:

May I be as yielding as water … for the benefit of all beings.

May 26 – June 1:
Lao Tzu wrote:

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance.

They were careful
as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 15

For sure, our outer life can be very muddy at times.

And so can our inner life be as well. But the good news is that we can actually do something to make our inner life less muddy.

Yoga and meditation practices can help us to clean up the murkiness in our own minds until we can see things a little clearer. It can cultivate for us the patience to wait for right actions to arise. It is easy to slip into being impatient; doing so, though, may lead us to taking wrong action.

Can you remain unmovable in your meditation practices and simply sit still and watch your own muddy mind? Like the Master, can you welcome ALL things?

I hope your ongoing yoga and meditation practices can lead you in this direction. Keep practicing!

Metta phrase:

May my own mud settle. May I wait for right actions to arise … for the benefit of all beings.

FREE Community Events on May 18th!: Yo-Dan-Nastics™ for children, Yoga/Meditation for teens/adults (May, 2014)

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Move and Meditate with KMA!

Join us for Two Free Classes on Sunday, May 18

Have a child who wants to experience the joy of movement? Bring them to our Keiki (children) Yo-Dan-Nastics™  (3 – 9 years) class!

Are you an adult or teen who wants to reap the benefits of yoga and meditation? Join our Metta Flow Yoga class with Loving-Kindness Meditation for teens / adults  (16+ years).

Day/Date: Sunday, May 18th
Time and Class:
2:15 – 3:15pm, Keiki (children) Yo-Dan-Nastics™ (3 – 9 years)
3:30 – 4:50pm, Metta Flow Yoga with Loving-Kindness Meditation for teens/adults (16 + years)
Where: DaNY Studios
305 West 38th St. @ 8th Ave.
Studio 5
Cost: FREE (Donations welcome)

Both classes will be led by Paul Keoni Chun.

All levels are welcome!

Space is limited. Please RSVP by Wednesday, May 14th. Call (212) 643-9013 or contact us here.

Thanks, once again, to our generous donors for making these free community events possible!

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Guiding Wisdom for your Yoga/Meditation Practice (April, 2014)

March 31 – April 6:
The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, wrote in the Tao Te Ching:

True perfection seems imperfect,
yet it is perfectly itself.
True fullness seems empty,
yet it is fully present.

True straightness seems crooked.
True wisdom seems foolish.
True art seems artless.

The Master allows things to happen.
She shapes events as they come.
She steps out of the way and lets the Tao [the Way] speak for itself.
– Tao Te Ching, Chapter 45

Often when we are practicing yoga postures, it is easy to find one’s self seeking perfection in the execution of them. Yet, truly, there has to be a “stepping aside” quality … a “staying out of one’s own way” quality … in each posture we execute. It is only when we step out of our own way and let go of trying to be perfect that the Tao or “the Way” can work its magic through us.

Back in 2000, I acted in a production of The Teahouse of the August Moon with Pan Asian Rep. It takes place after World War II at a time when Okinawa was occupied by the U.S. Military. I remember a scene where a U.S. officer saw a one-of-a-kind wooden tea cup that was crafted by an old Okinawan wood carving artisan. The Okinawan artisan describes how it took him many years to learn how to paint a flower on the inside of the cup like his father used to. Still, though it took a lot of effort and time, he said in the end, “it’s imperfect.” The point the artisan was trying to make is that something is perfect in and of itself because it has imperfections.

The Tao, the Way, cannot work through us unless we change our idea of what perfection truly is.

I know what it feels like to overwork a project in my attempts to make it perfect. But, with the “overworking” comes additional stress and thus, the easeful path of “The Way” can easily elude me. Sometimes, I just have to step back and say, “it’s perfect, as is” and move on.

Metta offering:

May I stay out of my own way. May my perfectly imperfect perfections … somehow benefit all beings everywhere.

April 7 – 13:
Lao Tzu also wrote:

All streams flow to the sea
because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power.

If you want to govern the people,
you must place yourself below them.
If you want to lead the people,
you must learn how to follow them.

The Master is above the people,
and no one feels oppressed.
She goes ahead of the people,
and no one feels manipulated.
The whole world is grateful to her.
Because she competes with no one,
no one can compete with her.
– Tao Te Ching, Chapter 66

Often in our quest for more power, we only look upwards and strive higher. Perhaps, attaining power has more to do with having the humility to understand better who and what is beneath us.

In striving for more power in our yoga practice, perhaps we attain more by having more compassion for our very own weaknesses.

Always keep your ego below your heart.

Have compassion for the weak link in your body in every yoga asana.

Strive higher by experiencing the lower.

Metta offering:

May I know humility. May my powers attained somehow benefit all beings everywhere.

April 14 – 27:
Again, from Lao Tzu:

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.
– Tao Te Ching, Chapter 67

In yoga, we simply return to the breath, over and over again. We find the simplest postures where we can breathe fully. Doing so, we return to our source of being.

In yoga, we practice patience, knowing that Self-Realization takes a long time to achieve. Doing so helps us to accept our friends and enemies, just as they are. In not trying to change others, others are changed.

In yoga, we practice compassion for ourselves, knowing that it is the key to healing the mind and the heart. When we can have compassion for our own suffering, truly we can understand just how all beings struggle to make sense of the human condition they find themselves in.

May you hold onto your three greatest treasures.

Metta offering:

May I remember simplicity, patience and compassion. May I remember these three for the benefit of all beings everywhere.

April 28 – May 4:
Lao Tzu suggested:

The generals have a saying:
“Rather than make the first move
it is better to wait and see.
Rather than advance an inch
it is better to retreat a yard.”

This is called
going forward without advancing,
pushing back without using weapons.

There is no greater misfortune
than underestimating your enemy.
Underestimating your enemy
means thinking that he is evil.
Thus you destroy your three treasures
and become an enemy yourself.

When two great forces oppose each other,
the victory will go
to the one that knows how to yield.
– Tao Te Ching, Chapter 69

In each yoga asana, there is going to be tension between opposing forces. In order to lift our spine to the heavens, we have to strongly root our feet deep down into the earth. To find the right balance requires engaging muscular effort. If you’re losing your balance, it might be because one force is overpowering the opposing one. Victory, in yoga, comes to us when we can cultivate a yielding quality in each asana.

In life, too, victory can be ours when we can practice yielding. In NYC, we are constantly experiencing opposing forces coming at us. Rather than giving in to a knee-jerk, habitual reaction when we feel we have been assailed, perhaps it is better to take a breath and yield. Likely, one will emerge victorious for having done so.

Metta offering:

May I yield. May I yield, … for my benefit and the benefit of all beings.

Hartley House field trip, 4/14/14

On April 14th, KMA treated a group of children from Hartley House, a neighborhood nonprofit settlement house, to a free Yo-Dan-Nastics™ field trip. The children enjoyed jumping, stretching and “Om-ing.” Fun was had by all! MAHALO (thank you!) to all our donors who made this experience possible. Without such support, KMA could not continue to be a valuable resource for our community!

Enjoy these photos:

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NY1 News “New Yorker of the Week” recognition! (Feb., 2014)

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We are so honored that NY1 News recognized us as its “New Yorker of the Week” on February 7, 2014!

You may view a video of the segment on Keoni Movement Arts Youtube channel.

You may read the transcript of the segment on NY1 News website.

Yo-Dan-Nastics™ for Adults/Teens (Jan., 2014)

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Here is what two of adult participants had to say:

Dear Paul,

I must say, thank you so much for the class last Friday. … although it has been so many years since I [first] began practicing with you, I consider those practices [14 years ago and again now] as having such a strong impact on my life.

The classes you offered and continue to offer to youth is what I see as a wonderful opportunity for those who would’ve otherwise not have practiced yoga, dance, and gymnastics in their lifetime, such as myself, and a powerful way in bettering people and making the world a better place. For this, please accept my sincerest gratitude for being such a positive influence on mine and the life of so many others.

From the excerpts, quotations, and thoughts recited, the meditation poses, warm ups, and active movements on the mat and trampoline, I felt so reinvigorated. As an adult now, it was just as empowering as it was 14 years ago to go through these experiences and inspiring to feel that sense of accomplishment again. It sure was a lovely evening. Blessings to you — someone who has been a blessing to so many others.

Andrew Wong

Paul,
Thank you so much again for last Friday’s Yo-Danastics class!!
You are so inspiring and the class brought out the child in me again!!
It was amazing to dig deep inside to get out of my comfort zone and lift up into the air. Through your encouragement and support we are able to find the strength within ourselves.
Thank you!
Namaste.
All the Best,
Yee

Yoga and Meditation for a Kind World (Dec., 2013)

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Our yoginis practiced yoga and meditation with a dedication towards the goal of being kind to themselves. Surely, the world was a better place afterwards because of their efforts.

Featured on the Huffington Post! (Aug., 2013)

Yvonna Russell, a friend to Keoni Movement Arts, blogged this endorsement of our organization on the Huff Post: “Ohana: Keoni Movement Arts