As someone who suffered from depression and anxiety, I spent much of my time in my late teens and early twenties trying to achieve mental health through physical activity. Whether it was lifting weights, running, or taking a fitness class, I didn’t care as long as it got my body moving. While finishing my associates in arts I decided to take yoga classes for credit, which led me onto the path of eventually becoming a teacher.
With much effort over the years, as a student and teacher, I began to recognize that yoga was much more than physical work. It was a practice in connecting body and mind, eventually leading to deeper efforts such as meditation. On this search to discover the true nature of the Self, I learned that yoga wasn’t something to “be done” but rather a lifestyle to “be lived”.
Through my studies and in depth training at the Shoshoni Yoga Ashram in Rollinsville, Colorado, I gained the ability to make a living as a yoga teacher and develop the Sthira Sukham method – a distinctive approach of hatha practice that blends tradition with modern science. I now spend my time sharing this unique approach with students in studios across the Kansas City area as well as in workshops and retreats in various locations and across the web.
Having been injured time and time again in my personal practice, it is my goal to teach in the safest way possible in an attempt to keep my students from having the same experience that I did. By approaching the asanas (physical postures) with sensitivity to joints and finding strength by stabilizing with surrounding muscles, we can find more power from our center to help us grow in this special time on our mats.
Originally asana was not built with the concept of body mechanics, but rather it was simply a way to ease strain throughout the body in preparation for seated meditation. As yoga has changed over time and the physical work has become more exercise oriented, I feel it is important to keep the roots of the practice in ancient tradition, but leave space for progress with our new understanding of the body through modern science.
My method is based heavily on the idea that difficulty does not equal efficiency and that knowledge is power. I’ve found that when anatomical awareness is provided to all learning styles it is the most functional way for individuals to understand their unique body in every pose. The more we connect to our inner wisdom, the easier it is to find progress in our practice. My goal is not to simply bring practitioners into the most challenging postures – although that may very well happen – rather, my mission it is to build a very strong foundation for longevity of the body and mind to be able to practice for as long as possible.
My inspiration to create this method of practice is simple. It comes directly from the historical and devoted text of the Yoga Sutras. Line 2.46 reads “sthira-sukham-asanam” .
Sthira translates to steadiness or stability.
Sukha means ease or pleasant.
Asana is in reference to posture, but literally translates to “sit comfortably”.
Essentially the sutras are telling us that our postures in asana and seat in meditation should be stable, steady and pleasant.
The Sthira Sukham method is rooted in the tradition of hatha yoga, or placing effort in the connection of body and mind, in the sense that every posture is practiced to build a foundation for seated meditation. Whether it be a vinyasa style class or something more passive like restorative, the postures are constantly updated to match the standards of current science and anatomy, ensuring that each practitioner receives what is best suited for their body and goals.
The asana work is grounded in the nature of creating steadiness and stability through the muscular system to protect joints allowing for a safe increase in mobility and decrease in day to day tension. Rather than focusing on traditional stretching – which has limited short term effects on musculature and can lead to injury – we instead target the long term success of balancing strength with stretching that exists in healthy range of motion to better support the skeleton.
Practitioners will find compassionate discipline in the familiarity of sequence that creates a base for higher practices like meditation. Every physical effort begins and ends with techniques to yoke the body and mind with the understanding that this method of work is to provide space to connect with the inner Self.
I wanted a method of practice that would remain rooted in the tradition of yoga but grow with the intelligence of science. Providing opportunity for participants to evolve organically in work as they discover their true nature.
Shoshoni Yoga Ashram, in Rollinsville Colorado, where Grace has completed 380 hours training.
Grace was voted Best Yoga Teacher in Kansas City.
I have been practicing with Grace for several years. She has taught me to truly listen to my body, and to respect what it is telling me even if I don’t like it. I have learned so much about anatomy from Grace and how to make sure each asana is done correctly to avoid injuries. But most importantly, Grace’s compassionate, positive, peaceful energy radiates through every class and brings me back to my center. She taught me how to meditate, which has completely changed my life. The purpose for beginning my yoga journey was always to create a place to remember my purpose and practice being present. This is exactly the space Grace provides.
Grace is one of the most kind, genuine teachers I have ever encountered. My yoga/life practice has truly deepened physically, mentally and spiritually since I started taking her classes and workshops. Her knowledge of the practice and her ability to share that knowledge is incredible. I am always learning something I can take home with me. She brought a new light to what yoga is to me and I will always be grateful that she generously shares that light with us all.
"I started practicing yoga about 6 months ago and am so grateful for how much it has helped me. I have had a great deal of pain along the left side of my body for quite some time. I have attended a number of different classes at Hagoya Yoga Studio, at which Grace Duckworth is an instructor. Given the benefits my body was already experiencing and the fact that it helped to lessen the pain I had been feeling, I wondered if working with Grace could help me even more with my specific areas of pain. Grace was able to give me a short yoga routine that I could carry out each day for 15-20 minutes to focus on these areas. After only one month I feel so much relief on my left side I can hardly believe it. I was able to get temporary relief through a chiropractor and medication, but in working with Grace I feel as though I am getting consistent and sustained relief from pain that I have experienced for over 3 years. Thank you Grace!"
I really like Grace's style of teaching. She is so thorough when explaining the poses so I know what my body is supposed to be feeling. I feel like she wants me to succeed. I have since followed her around the city because I think she's the best yoga teach in Kansas City!