People of Aspen – Kris Koneval


Photo Courtesy of Kris Koneval

Koneval hangs upside down in an intensive yoga pose.

Yoga has become a staple of modern Western culture and is especially prominent in Aspen’s high-end society. This discipline has impacted many lives, with people practicing yoga recreationally, using it to supplement other sports, or integrating it into a part of their daily life. Aspen local Kris Koneval has implemented yoga into a part of his identity.
Koneval, a snowcat operator for the Aspen Mountain Sundeck for the last 15 years, works weekdays throughout the winter months waking up at 4:30 A.M and finishing at 9 A.M. He then hustles to make it to the 9:30 Bikram style class at Arjuna Yoga or goes skiing. If Koneval doesn’t make it to the 9:30 class, he makes it to the 12:00 class.
“Skiing has been my biggest passion since I moved [here] 20 years ago,” Koneval said. “At that point, I still didn’t even know the difference between [yoga styles] Bikram and Vinyasa.”
Koneval experienced several injuries over the years as he approached age forty due to frequently skiing and mountain biking. He knew he needed a discipline that placed less pressure on his body.
“Over the last five years, yoga has slowly become a bigger passion for me as I needed a way to heal the body instead of destroying it,” Koneval said.
He gave up mountain biking and took up yoga.
“Just over five years ago, I took my first hot yoga class, and I hated it. I couldn’t stand the heat, let alone [stand] on 1 foot,” Koneval added. “But I had made a promise that I would go every day for the first month, and I did, and I pretty much hated every second that I was in the hot room; the only reason why I stayed was because I knew how much good it was doing for me.”
After only about a month and a half of regularly practicing yoga, Koneval decided to obtain his teacher training at Arjuna to expand his knowledge of the practice. In 2017, Koneval traveled to the Ghosh Yoga College in Kolkata, India. He participated in a prescriptive yoga training with Guru Bishnu Ghosh’s granddaughter, Muktamala.
“Until COVID, I had only missed 4 days of practice in a studio in two years, and I have practiced more times then there are days in a year,” Koneval said.
In 2018, Koneval traveled to Malaga, Spain and completed levels 1, 2, and 3 of a Core 26 master teacher training course with Tony Sanchez, a solo practitioner of yoga for over 40 years. Additionally, Koneval completed numerous yoga workshops where he has been able to build on his skills and mindfulness.
“Due to work, skiing or sleeping wrong, it’s amazing how little injuries can affect the body but also on your mental state,” Koneval said. “Yoga is a daily practice for me, not just in the studio, but outside of it. I try to implement as much calm breathing as I can outside the studio, especially when driving in this valley!”