It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of Kimberly’s passing on December 1, 2023. She was very dear member of our community for over ten years and will be greatly missed. In honor of her memory, donations can be sent in her name to the Gandara Center or Farm Sanctuary, causes close to her heart. Below is her IYCWM 2020 Student Spotlight and click here to view her obituary. We send our deepest condolences to her family and all who knew and loved her. We are grateful to have had the privilege of knowing her all these years.
IYCWM 2020 Student Spotlight: Introducing Kimberly Fernald, a longtime member of IYCWM. Over the years, it has been such a joy to watch her grow in her practice and in life. Her openness and willingness to be with what is and tackle difficulties is admirable. We are lucky to have her bring her studentship and warmth to our Community. You will find her at IYCWM on Saturdays and often at workshops. This month look for her online in the LiveStream Home Practice series and Sutra Group.
Tell us a bit about yourself –
I consider myself to be a nurturing, supportive individual who finds happiness in helping others. I take care of myself by seeking growth through yoga, meditation, using essential oils and practicing Veganism. I grew up in Westford, MA and have lived in the Valley since 2008. I have a dog named Max who loves life and enjoys making new friends. I am currently employed as a Social Worker in Holyoke, MA serving youth with substance use disorders.
What drew you to social work?
I started working at an adolescent residential for males with substance use disorders about 3 years into my personal recovery. I began to recognize my natural ability to do this work. I noticed my ability to tap into curiosity and compassion. I noticed how much I learn about myself through my relationship with others. My supervisor at the residential really encouraged and supported me on my path.
How is it enriching?
As I have highlighted above, I really gain so much from my work with others. It is really a gift to witness and remain present in both the joy and grief of the human condition. I am honored to do this work and respect this path as the gift that it is.
How does it challenge you?
I am challenged everyday by this work. I am challenged by the continued seeking of balance between holding space for the suffering in others and my personal self care. I am challenged by my drive for perfection and wanting to give even when I have nothing left to give. There has been times where I have questioned my path both as a Social Worker and as a human. Luckily, during those times I am able to reach out, get support and connect with my spiritual beliefs and practices through yoga.
What is a little known or surprising fact about you or your work?
I look good in multiple shapes and styles of sunglasses.
What led you to Iyengar yoga?
When I first started practicing yoga I tried many different types. I really began to understand that I was looking not only for the asana practice but all the limbs of yoga including the spiritual principles. Practicing with Susan Elena allowed me to receive and engage with the spiritual Self.
How long have you been practicing yoga?
I began practicing yoga in 2009.
What keeps you on the mat?
The continued benefits that impact not only me but also everyone that I interact with in my daily life. These benefits include a sense of peace, focus, purpose and overall wellness.
What keeps you off the mat?
I struggle with maintaining balance in my life which creates negative thoughts and feelings leading to isolation.
What poses do you love?
I love the chest opening in Utthita Trikonasana and Ardha Chandrasana. I also enjoy the hip opening in Gomukasana and Kapotasana.
What poses do you find challenging?
Supta Virasana and Sirsasana are very challenging for me.
What do you like to do when you are not doing yoga?
I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I love spending time with my nephews and nieces. I like to go hiking with my dog, Max. I relax using essential oils and going floating at Go With The Float in Easthampton, MA.
How has practicing yoga impacted your life?
Yoga has enabled me to have a greater understanding of my purpose in life. As a person in recovery, having a spiritual connection and practice has been life saving in moments where life has been chaotic and hard.
How does yoga show up in your everyday life?
I utilize yoga movement, breath and principles in all that I do. This includes how I work with individuals in need and how I maintain balance and serenity in my life. My breath keeps me in the present moment. My awareness of the impact of choice around my words, actions and consumption is aligned with the yamas and niyamas.
How does our yoga community contribute to your practice?
This community is a place that I can seek support and feel safe to be where I am at, even it means I am inconsistently showing up. This community helps to guide and encourage growth in my life. I always feel welcome and know that if a reach out, there will be a hand for me to hold.
Any advice for beginners?
Yoga is for everybody. It is. No matter what gender, body type, flexibility or religious belief. Yoga can truly change your life and bring a deeper understanding for personal growth.