“Over the past four years, I have had the joy and privilege of knowing Ken Breniman, LCSW, RYT, as an esteemed professional colleague and treasured friend. Ken has been on an amazing, lifelong journey of deep, adventuresome learning and courageous, compassionate service. As a social worker, psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, consultant, spiritual integration counselor, and teacher, he combines the best of leading-edge clinical counseling skills with yoga therapy, mindfulness, and spiritual awareness. I have been moved by his work with widely diverse clients ranging from youth with autistic spectrum challenges to elders in hospice and their grieving dear ones. He has been consistently attentive, empathic, respectful, caring, resourceful, and helpful toward all with whom he works. His bright, buoyant spirit, compassionate heart, healthy energy, appropriate good humor, keen mind, and commitment to the well-being of all are among his many uplifting qualities. His conscientious concern for social justice, and his willingness to speak truth to power and act in solidarity with the marginalized and under-served members of the population are also among his admirable attributes. Ken is continually open to learning from experience, from his clients and peers, and from scientific research. He is a bright, generous soul, and I highly recommend him to those who are seeking personal and spiritual growth, healing, and integration.”
~Mitch Hall, PhD, RYT
I have been seeing Ken regularly for close to a year for both therapy and yoga.
I brought to the table many many emotions of several recent family member losses, the ending of a relationship/engagement, as well as day to day turmoil which combined, gave me an inner sense of both sadness and a feeling of not being planted and flourishing, not to mention, I must have arrived at our first session with a large backpack full of anxiety ticking loudly.
Over the past months through our discussions, Ken has very compassionately mentally held my hand while exploring the grief of loss, teaching me how to recognize it's importance yet not allow it to be overwhelming. Through our discussions he has shown me how to allow myself to be more compassionate towards others as well as myself, with very helpful examples and role play discussion resulting in what I feel are very positive results and much progress. He's aided in helping me question why I feel certain ways and the possible results of changing those feelings to have positive reactions toward what I viewed as hopelessly damaged relationships. I feel Ken has a very strong understanding of human emotions which has allowed me to develop 100 percent trust in him, which seems essential when dealing with matters of this nature.
I'm now very fortunate to have developed a slight "Ken echo" in my thoughts, which has proved very useful. It is a voice of reason, compassion, understanding and a good dash of humor. Incorporating yoga into therapy makes a lot of sense as they really seem to work well together. As a beginner, it has given me many peaceful moments while working out the kinks and eliminating anxiety. I used to feel that sessions with Ken were blissful only as long as they lasted however, over time, I have become a firm believer that how we choose to view life's challenges is extremely defining to our future happiness, as much as how we actively deal with them.
I have blessedly learned that we can change those views and we can be and live that change, towards a happier future which by the way, is extremely contagious.
Ken was my supervisor during a time that I was feeling a lack of confidence and vulnerable at the internship with a challenging population. He supported me thoughout and was so encouraging that I eventually regained my self-confidence and even to dream about what I might do in my life as a therapist beyond that particular internship. Even though my supervision ended in 2010, I am still in touch with Ken, and am grateful to him for his patience and for nuturing the seeds of potential in me! He is a wonderful supervisor and I would highly recommend him. (And just as an aside, Ken makes a really good calzone!).
Ken is more than a teacher, he is a healer. He is compassionate, his demeanor in class is calming and peaceful, and he truly understands the connection between the mind, body, emotions and spirit when it comes to well being and health. I am a huge fan. I've taken his regular yoga classes (not that I would call his classes regular) as well as a Yoga for Grief workshop and would highly, highly recommend both. If you are lucky enough to catch his workshop on grief (not sure how often he does it), do yourself a favor and go. It was a 4 hour workshop that incorporated mediation, yoga, restorative yoga, yoga nidra and acupuncture, and throughout Ken would read poignant quotes. We also had an altar to put a memento of a person, relationship or idea we've lost, and light candles as we set personal intentions for our practice. It was a tremendously healing and touching day, a great way to let go of old emotions/barriers that no longer serve. There were people there for a variety of reasons: new losses, old losses. And I think Ken's workshop was amazingly healing for everyone who attended. It certainly was for me!
Ken has made it safe for me to be successful trying, then continuing a yoga practice. He is gentle, kind, and patient teacher. His ability to meet the needs of advanced and beginner students in the same class is amazing. He also provides extra's that make a difference. I couldn't give a higher recommendation.
I came to Ken's partner yoga class not knowing what to expect and boy was I blown away! He is incredibly down to earth and really has no sense of holier than thou which I really appreciated. Lots of room for laughter and for me to be myself in the workshop. Ken demoed several of the poses with his lovely partner Tim, which helped make the poses more accessible. On that note I was amazed at how seamlessly he was able to make a class that I really enjoyed as a teacher and other newer students were clearly having as much of a juicy good time in. Check out his next workshop- you won't wanna miss it!
-Jeremi McManus,RYT, MFT
Ken's classes are always infused with Light, humor, gentleness, openness, clarity, spirituality and lovely guidance. He is really one of my favorite yoga teachers. I enjoy the short spiritual readings he does to offer wisdom words to the mind at the beginning of class and the optional lavender lotion at the end of class that makes me feel totally nourished and nurtured. The classes are just the right balance of challenging physicality blended with time to deepen postures, listen to one's own body intuition, and relax deeply. He has a beautiful energy and deep knowledge of the practice of yoga without artifice or ego.
When you want to learn yoga the right way, you need a great teacher! Attending one of Ken's classes not only benefits you physically but mentally and spiritually as well. Ken has a wonderful, fun, challenging sense of humor and knows how to teach a mixed level class. He has great intuition on helping everyone regardless of level, always walking around the room checking and helping. His partner and or circle pose's are a lot of fun and let you connect with others. The fact he is not only beautiful on the inside but also on the outside doesn't hurt either! Give it a try and you won't be disappointed.
I highly recommend him!
Ken is full of energy and love - you can feel that being around him and in his class. Come check it out.
You are the reason why I love yoga so much and every other teacher that I'll have will have big shoes or a mat to fill. I really appreciate the opportunity to share how wonderful I believe you are.
I never seem to comprehend the phrase "perfect yoga voice" until I practice yoga with Ken, both in an individual basis and in class. His gentle, soothing, yet deep and confident voice makes yoga directions easy to follow. Aside from his voice, he is very patient and understands the needs of his students and gauge the intensity of the class quite well. In a class setting, he would provide several alternatives to a yoga pose that accomodate the different level of yoga practice between the students. In other words, whether you are a new yoga student or someone that practice it for a long time, you can still benefit from taking his class. Ken is warm and friendly and certainly provide adequate attention for new and returning students. I thoroughly enjoy his classes as I have seen great improvement in my flexibility and coordination over the past year. I am an exercise physiologist and I usually recommend clients to practice yoga as part of his/her flexibilty training component and Ken would be the top name on my list whom I refer my clients to!
Ken and I worked together at Vital Life Services, a non-profit HIV/AIDS support center that fell victim to the financial crisis and closed its doors this year, alas. During the two years that we worked together -- myself as an acupuncturist, Ken as a therapist -- we shared a number of clients. Aside from the personal warmth and integrity I saw in him on a daily basis, I was also privy to reports from the clients as to how their sessions with him went. "Lifesaver" was a word I heard on a regular basis. He even started a free yoga class for the clients, in addition to the therapy work he was brought on to do. Ken is golden, in my book.
He's kind, he's encouraging and he knows what he's doing. Whether you're new to yoga, plateauing in your practice or a professional yogi, Ken's classes will usher in a new level of understanding and connection with your body. The classes I've taken with him are thorough and invigorating with plenty of time for restorative moments and grounding towards the end of class. He guides newcomers and gently adjusts experienced students. What I like best about Ken's classes are his reminders that wherever you are right now, is exactly where you should be. He has classes in SF and Oakland. (Ken's naked yoga classes are a safe space for trans-men.)
Ken is responsible for me starting my yogic journey and I finally had the pleasure of taking his Tuesday naked yoga class in San Francisco Sun Room. I have known Ken on/off for a number of years and have always thought of him as a gentle soul with a kind heart. His actions in class proved my impression of him to be accurate. Ken is courteous, professional, kind, gentle, playful, and attentive to all. He provided modifications continuously so everyone could attempt the poses irregardless of our yoga experience. It's a honor to call Ken a friend and now (another) one of my yoga teachers who inspires me....I look forward to taking more of his classes.
I had been curious about yoga for quite sometime now, but my prejudgments made me stay away until now. My first session was with Ken at Naked Yoga SF. Ken creates a relaxing calm atmosphere that is free of pretension. As a complete novice, I was made to feel comfortable in my akwardness and encouraged with positive affirmations. I thought Ken struck a great balance between the spiritual and physical aspects of yoga. Before my first class I wondered if i would make it through the entire session without leaving early, but to my surprise when the class ended I was shocked at how fast the time had passed... For me that is a great sign of how much I enjoyed the experience. I will return many times. I am an instant fan of yoga and Ken's classes. I encourage others to sign up for private lessons to get some personalized instructions.
I've known Ken for years now and have always found him to be a fun, caring and giving person. I started practicing yoga in August 08, and in the past 11 months, I've gone through a lot of instructors because I go to Crunch in LA--one of the regular teachers there had to have a lot subs for an unknown reason. Ken certainly ranks in the tops in my experience. His personality translates into his teaching--he pushes you subtly and makes it a great workout! I definitely wish I could practice more with Ken.
My entree back into fitness and cross training made doing naked yoga an essential part of my overall wellness. Nervous at first, my intitial class was with Ken. Was amazed at how the meditation always hit upon the things I was dwelling on the most and how the asanas always hit the muscles that were most compromised by practicing my sport of trail running. Ken validated how yoga as a practice not only extends beyond how one poses in a classroom but also how one poses as a human being in the theater of life. Now I hit the runway in my trail running naked yoga body knowing that what i'm presenting is a manifestation of what is within.
I always look forward to Ken's classes because I know I will be transformed by his optimism, challenging yet mindful asanas, and humor basted with lots of yummy wisdom. He is a competent teacher that can reach all levels and age groups because he practices and models for his students spirit and compassion. Thank you Ken, you are a gift!
I have enjoyed classes from many yoga instructors in the past and Ken was no disappointment. He led a class for a birthday celebration that was quite wonderful. I enjoyed his incredibly thoughtful and positive demeanor during the class and the flow during the session. I hope to take another class from him in the future. Thank you, Ken!
Ken is a wonderful instructor! I have taken his class at Club One and feel it is a great balance of stretching and active yoga poses. He recently led a yoga class for our birthday gathering of about 17 women. He was thoughtful to the exercises that would bring group harmony and fun in addition to providing a good basic yoga routine for all levels of ability. He brought such warmth to our event and went above and beyond our expectations for our birthday yoga class. He always incorporates interesting readings into his yoga classes, and brings lavender scented lotion for the final moments of rest and relaxation. I highly recommend his classes.
Ken Breniman is above all an attentive, nurturing, sensitive and positive teacher. I would recommend any of his workshops and classes as he is an exemplary facilitator with well thought out and sequenced poses, explicit modeling and instruction with modifications, and careful attention to pacing that is consistent throughout. He creates an atmosphere of calm and quiet focus that is truly meditative. All of this is augmented with inspirational readings that begin and end each class.
The Grief Workshop consisted of a balanced blend of traditional yoga for the first hour, with the remaining two hours spent in restorative poses, breath work with partners, and acupuncture (if desired). The opening of the workshop was dedicated to those people the students were honoring and remembering who had passed. Stories were shared, candles were lit on an altar at the front of the room, and each person and those who loved them were honored and acknowledged.
After having met new friends and shared my deepest emotions of loss, I came away from this workshop feeling calm and centered and even more appreciative of the life and the experiences that have been given to me.
Ken has such a kind and gentle presence about him, it is easy to feel like you can trust him very quickly. I attended his Yoga for Grief workshop and his warmth and care for each person was consistent and unyielding. He is so authentic and true to himself in a way that is very refreshing. I highly recommend his workshops and can imagine he is a phenomenal psychotherapist, as well. His level of compassion and ability to connect with people is a gift to the healing arts world.
Because I'm a lazy butt who doesn't do yoga as much as I wish, I've been a handful of times instead of weekly. But that's no reflection on Ken, I mean I love his yoga classes! At risk of sounding hippy dippy, he has an amazing vibe that fills his classes with joy. I've arrived to Open Heart Yoga in Oakland on days when I just didn't want to be there, when I was feeling stiff, down and cold. And I've always left feeling loose, revitalized and warm.
Ken is not just a yoga teacher but a therapist, and I truly find his classes therapeutic. Ken is a friendly, responsive and sensitive teacher. He takes inventory on how each person is doing and of what they hope to get out of the class. Then he gives modifications to make sure people are getting what they need. I've been to classes where people who wanted a "workout" were worked out while for those who needed something more relaxing, he focused on restorative poses (if I'm using the right language for that). I've brought a couple of friends to his Open Heart Studio classes, and they completely agree that Ken's classes are wonderful. He teaches well for both beginners and more advanced students.
One of my friends had done little to no yoga before and this class was perfect for her. And then I've done sporadic yoga for 12 years and this class meets me at my level too (note I'm still intermediate not advanced and cannot attest to whether he teaches that level, but I'm pretty sure he can throw in advanced poses too). Finally the classes are affordable with a sliding scale fee. Ken has a sun-shiny heart and his classes are a blessing. I could not give a higher recommendation.
I used to think the only way to practice yoga was in class. Since taking Ken's yoga based stress reduction for nurses, I've learned otherwise. Doing simple yoga stretches at lunchtime and practicing deep breathing exercises throughout the work day have been extremely helpful. I have been sharing his breathing techniques with patients successfully too. So glad I could spend a sunny Sunday afternoon with Ken!
-Tina Real, Registered Nurse
Ken led a beautiful partner's workshop for Valentine's Day. I had never worked with him before and my partner and I both enjoyed his easy, open-hearted approach to practice. I am a teacher and I resonated to his flexibility (no pun intended!) and his quick solutions when alternative asanas or adjustments were called for. I recommend!
Loved the partner yoga workshop. Ken is sweet, inspiring, and wonderfully supportive. The perfect valentines day treat. We are still glowing.
Please forgive the gushing tone of this review. I can't help it! I'm just back from a yoga retreat in Hawaii. This is the Hawaiian retreat with Ken. He has an uncanny ability to meet an individual and a group right where s/he/they are and to stick with that focus. I think of him as a healer, a leader, and an inspiration. Last year, I was a yoga novice, yet through his gentle leadership I kept up well. And that experience was repeated this year. As others have written, Ken also excels at integrating the spiritual foundations of yoga with the physical experience of the practice. Wish I lived in the Bay area, instead of the other side of the country!
I feel honored to have had the opportunity receive clinical LCSW supervision from Ken at the Institute on Aging. Ken's keen sense of compassion and understanding shone through him as we sat together in our weekly sessions. Ken's loving presence continues to inspire me to love my own unique presence and to continue to believe in my own wisdom and spiritual direction. I feel as though the universe answered my prayer of finding a guide to help me to see a bridge connecting two of my passions, yoga and psychotherapy, and turning it into a sustainable, balanced career. He is doing it, and he does it well. Ken is awesome, his enthusiasm and encouragement toward my professional and personal growth through change, love, and self-care continues to support my humanity as I move through the many wonderful layers of this life. -Paula Passanisi, ASW
"Thank you so much for the wonderful parnter yoga class on Sunday. My partner and I really connected and enjoyed our stretch together. Such a nice valentines surprise!"
I took the grief yoga workshop with Ken in February at the Sun Room. I found the workshop to be a positive experience both physically and emotionally. Ken creates a very calming atmosphere where a person can honor a loved one while also getting in touch with one's own grief.
Healthy snacks and tea were provided and I appreciated the optional acupuncture that we could try. The studio has some materials that can be used to assist you in the yoga poses if you need them.
The yoga was challenging but not so much so that you would get stressed out. The class is broken up into optional introductions, a vigorous yoga portion, group exercises, a restorative yoga session and a meditation session. Ken also gives instructions on how to practice calming techniques at home to help through the grief process.
Though I still left Ken's class struggling with my loss I felt that I had gained a few techniques to help me work through my grief over time. I will probably return to Ken's grief workshop in a few months.
Bring plenty of water. I would also recommend going with a friend if you are feeling vulnerable. Classes at the Sun Room can be warm.
I'm still basking in a week of yoga with Ken, Bryan H, and a bunch of guys in Hawaii. Agree with other reviewers who see Ken as a healer. He has that rare ability to be continually present, with compassion and intention. His attention is always to the process of the group and each participant, and the love he brings is palpable.
I was looking for a way to approach a big birthday and a number of other big changes coming this year and the work with Ken provided that. I felt increasing clarity about the path and intentions for the year.
And then there's his quick sense of humor, lest anyone take any of this too seriously. I'm looking forward to more work with Ken.
Can't believe I haven't reviewed Ken before now. His reputation as a compassionate and skilled healer is known far and wide, but it was a few months ago that I took his workshop on stress reduction for healers and was able to experience his teaching first hand.
What a great workshop!! I learned a few simple poses that can be done without even leaving my desk and especially enjoyed sharing experiences with the other participants. His energy and attitude are infectious. I am an acupuncturist and quite honestly thought I knew much and more about self care, but Ken has shown me there is always room for growth. I consider him a teacher, healer and colleague, and recommend his various classes and workshops to yogi and yoginis of all ages and levels!
I was given the gift of having Ken be my clinical supervisor for the majority of my LCSW hours. Ken is an amazing listener and teacher who guides you with a compassionate heart and weekly words of wisdom. He helps to keep you grounded in challenging times and reminds you of your strengths. I thank Ken for being the support I needed to navigate my professional path and to help my passion for helping others flourish and grow. I highly recommend Ken as a Clinical Supervisor to anyone interested in strengthening clinical skills and on the LCSW path. -Jennifer Strickfaden, ASW
Thank you for a great time at Kalani. You guys took my practice to a different level! Now my body feels light and strong. My mind is calm yet awake (minus the jet lag..). I saw a few people today and they have told me I look like a different person. They said they have never seen me look so relaxed and healthy. [Tomohisa Wada, 8/19/2014]
…what I've brought back I never could have thought to wish for, which I find is often the case for such magical happenings/gatherings, this one due in no small part to the hard work and kindness of you and Ken. [Ravi Venkataramani, 8/25/2014]
I want to tell you that, even though I didn’t know it then, the yoga retreat with you and Tim Luddy was life-changing. Admittedly, there were moments throughout the retreat when I felt out of place, but upon my return to “the real world”, it is ever so clear to me that you and our fellow yogis were on another level of consciousness and oneness with the environment around us.
I know yoga will be a huge part of my life now. It has done wonders for my anxiety - I breathe through it in a way I never knew existed before yoga. I also want to start attending naked yoga (either this week or next) on a regular basis. [Anthony Leem, 9/1/2014]
I had a rough 6 months and was using this retreat to heal in a deep way. As I said, I am moved by your love for yoga and your clarity on correct alignment. [Joe Weston, 8/23/2014]
The Yoga retreat and you as a teacher were/are truly an amazing experience. Your passion and love is truly felt by your students. I only wish I lived back in SF again so I could take your class more often. [Brian DeGregory, 8/28/2014]
In spite of the hurricane, I thought the experience at Kalani was exceptional. I enjoyed every class and wanted even more. [Gary Taliaferro, 8/30/2014]
"Yoga tremendously changed my life in ways I couldn't possibly imagine when I first made its discovery back in 2010 with Ken Breniman. I found yoga hoping it would allow me to avoid a surgical process that would have implanted steel rods near my spinal columns. Prior to beginning my yogic practice, both doctors and chiropractors agreed this surgery was necessary to further prevent hunching in my spinal region, which at that time had already begun to compress both my lungs and stomach. After doing one-on-one sessions 3 times a week with Ken for nearly a year, I was able to see my body completely physically restructure itself in flexibility and posture. I can honestly attribute this to Ken's personal skills as a teacher in reading the specific needs of each students individual needs and a genuine compassion and care for them. He really helped me grow in so many ways!
As the tension and pain from the scoliosis subsided, through Ken I developed a newly found love and awareness for my body. I can proudly contribute this state of connective consciousness and this feeling of connectivity within my body to yoga and Ken who has helped me comprehend what takes place beneath the surface of the body and mind as well as the connectivity of the mind, body, and spirit on a deeper level than I ever had.
Now, five years later--in our present day--I am in the position to give the gift of instruction. It was only the handful of years ago when Ken and I first met that I couldn't reach past my knees when bending toward my toes, but after an amazing journey full of encouragement and motivation from Ken, I am able to accomplish things I would have formerly thought of as impossible. So now I am also a yoga teacher continuing on with the tradition of help and inspiration Ken taught me, showing we all have the ability to transform ourselves within our hearts, bodies, and minds as long as we approach our lives (and the trials within them) with patience, dedication, a willingness to learn, and, most important of all, a great love for ourselves. Thank you Ken for being a part in changing my life!" - Jared
Most days, I go to a yoga class, or try to incorporate some home practice along the way. I always feel I benefit a lot in some way by having gone to yoga class.
Ken's yoga class, however, brings a completely different experience. Don't know why, but, while practicing yoga in Ken's class, my body and mind feels light and free. (Even with my cranky arthritic hip and the ups and downs the day brings.)
How is that I wonder? Well, whatever the reason, it makes my day exceptionally better. Ken has such a wonderful outlook on life and on each and every moment. -Jarvia S.
"I had the honor of attending Ken's most recent, four-week Yoga for Grief workshop held at Namaste Yoga in Berkeley. This has been the single most valuable experience I've had since my father passed away to help me process, understand, and come to some level of peace around my loss.
Ken creates and holds an incredibly safe space for all participants, and by the second class there was a mutual trust and warmth that our group had for one another. I absolutely credit this to Ken; as a therapist intern I can attest to how hard it is to facilitate groups -- Ken makes it seem effortless.
Ken has a lot of gentle wisdom surrounding this particular topic, and I felt that he was able to meet each member of the group exactly where we were in our grief journeys.
As for the yoga itself --- I actually had one of those transformative moments of joy and happiness that you always hope for when going to a yoga class. Every pose was offered to us with modifications as needed. The somatic experience was a large part of my healing journey, and each pose was chosen with care and purpose.
Long story short, Ken is a genuine, caring and skilled teacher/healer/friend, and I feel very lucky to have found him."