Kaiut hatha yoga looks and feels nothing like your traditional yoga class.
At Block 1750 in Boulder, Colorado, there are two teachers guiding—one at the head of the class, the other pacing, adjusting individuals to maximize the benefits of the practice. A mirror takes up an entire wall space, with the remaining collection of mats, cushions, blocks and straps set off to one side of the studio. The work is done almost exclusively on the ground, and you’ll observe little movement in the students.
But the work done in a Kaiut hatha yoga class goes deeper into the body than any other traditional style of yoga—it delves past the muscles and into the joints and tendons of the body, providing a unique sense of healing and vitality when executed correctly.
Co-teachers Stephen Uvalle, 52, and Sara Fox-Uvalle, 38, met in June 2014 during a workshop at CorePower yoga studio in Boulder. With no warning or expectations, their worlds came together, and the result of their union is demonstrated in their teaching and practicing of Kaiut.
Stephen had been teaching yoga in Boulder for more than a decade before he met Francisco Kaiut, founder of the practice, last summer. As Stephen observed more and more of the yoga world he taught in, he soon realized that people were stuck in old patterns and persistent pain.
“I was seeing repetitive injuries, physical and even emotional,” Stephen said. “I always questioned [that] if we were really doing yoga—yoga as a healing modality—it’s a healing of the physical body so that we can do the spiritual or emotional work that needs to be done. And I didn’t see any of that happening.”
Kaiut hatha yoga started several years ago with Francisco Kaiut in Curitiba, Brazil. Francisco started his career as a chiropractor out of the need to resolve his own back pain from a childhood injury. He eventually turned to yoga and developed his own method that is accessible to people of all ages, shapes, sizes and physical fitness levels.
“One of the coolest things about Kaiut is that the whole idea is meeting your body where it’s at and letting each individual be their own guide,” said Block 1750 owner Alex Milewski, 26. “Stephen and Sara do an incredible job of really walking you through how your body should be feeling and how you should be pushing or not pushing.”
A key characteristic of Kaiut is the practice’s ability to eliminate blockages in the joints through each position. The movements are constructed to be slow and deeply uncomfortable—at first. Eventually, the body melts into a state of serenity and healing.
“The ability to sit in the discomfort—not judge it, not resist it and not try to get anywhere, but just be—permeates every aspect of life,” Sara said. “You can really sit with big questions.”
Sara and Stephen started practicing together in January 2015. The pair thought they would have to travel to Brazil in order to further their involvement in Kaiut, but they soon discovered Francisco was holding a teacher training that summer in Hotchkiss, Colorado.
“We practiced avidly up until the training, did the training and when we returned, it was clear. There was a shift,” Sara said. “We couldn’t continue to teach things that we knew weren’t actually healing—that this was it.”
Stephen elaborated: “The other yogas cannot get to the depth of the joints—[they] actually iterate and reiterate patterns in the body that are already distorted,” he said. “So if you have a hurt hip or a pattern in the hip that’s creating problems in the low back, a Warrior II isn’t going to help that.”
Stephen’s first cousin, 42-year-old Josh Hamlin and his wife Whitney, 29, recently moved back to Boulder from California in September. Josh, a lifelong athlete, has been taking Sara and Stephen’s classes avidly since his return.
“Because [Kaiut] is on the ground it really opens it up to people of all ages, and people that couldn’t necessarily stand and hold certain positions for long periods of time,” Josh said. “It really gives people of all levels of fitness a chance to come and experience that deep meditative state that you get when you’re doing yoga.”
The magic of Sara and Stephen’s classes stems from their foundation as husband and wife—as partners in life.
“Every day I learn from her—in class, out of class. How to say something,” Stephen said. “She tends to be softer. I tend to be much more edgy and firm, and that’s a really good combination.”
When the pair met over two years ago, the connection was almost instantaneous. Within weeks, they were living together, and on October 31, 2015, they were officially married.
“Everything changed for me,” Sara said. “I had never become that close to someone or felt that comfortable. I found my cosmic twin. It feels like, not that we met, but that we found each other again.”
Colorful tattoos cloak both Sara and Stephen’s arms from shoulders to wrists. Neither Sara nor Stephen drinks alcohol, and they are committed to a vegan, yogic lifestyle in every sense of the word. In many ways, the energy between them radiates something ancient and profound, sustainable and complete.
“I felt home,” Stephen said. “I hadn’t felt that ever before. I still haven’t to this day. Every single day it’s like that.”
Sara and Stephen were co-owners of the Little Yoga Studio in Boulder at the time of their Kaiut teacher training. Once realizing Kaiut was the only yoga style they wanted to teach, they migrated to Block 1750 and started offering classes in April this year.
“[Kaiut] is a modality, a place, an opportunity that is come as you are, and you have the opportunity to meet yourself, calm the nervous system and really work on overall health at no particular pace,” Sara said. “It’s a lifetime practice.”
“We want to show people that you have to have a healthy body to meet this world,” he said.
See Kauit in action: