It's another internationally spunky yogini who is our featured Interview with a Yogi of the moment. I was lucky enough to meet Kelly at the inaugural Sydney Off The Mat, Into The World (Aus/NZ) event earlier this year, and her class was one of the highlights of the weekend! I'm so excited to share Kelly's wisdom with you below.
Kelly Fisher is an Anusara-inspired yoga teacher, and founder/director of Urban Yoga in Wellington, New Zealand. She's also the co-founder and co-director of Yoga Unlimited in Wellington. Kelly's official website is well worth a mosey - check it out at www.KellyFisherYoga.com
How do you befriend yr body? I befriend my body by listening to it. I pay close attention to the messages it gives me in response to foods, drinks, experiences, people, thoughts, weather patterns, yoga poses, practices, everything. And as much as possible, I respond accordingly. When my body gives me a clear indication that something is amiss, I stop and enquire as to what is needed. It'll usually be pretty clear about the remedy required.
Behaving in this way consistently over the years has helped my body learn to trust me. As a result I have been rewarded with greater comfort, ease and health than when I was younger. When injury and pain do occur (I think they are an inevitable side effect of a full life!), there is less fear and self-recrimination. Instead of rushing to try to “fix” the problem, an intimate type of conversation develops whereby I am able to learn from every challenge and gain greater self-respect in the process.
Describe your yoga practice - how do you live yoga on the mat? My yoga practice is an ever evolving response to what my body, my mind and my spirit need on any given day. On most days, I will do asana, pranayama and meditation but the duration, intensity and focus vary wildly depending on what else is going on in my life. My practice serves and enhances my life.
I do prioritise my formal practice because I've found that the little ritual of conscious self-care anchors me within myself for whatever else the day might hold. The very best time of day for me to practice asana and pranayma is mid-late afternoon. It helps me to clear my mind of whatever busy-ness the early part of the day held and prepare for teaching or whatever I have planned for the evening.
Off the mat, I attempt to stay deeply inwardly connected so that I can respond to whatever happens from a place of authenticity and remembrance of connectedness. It doesn't always work but I suppose that's why it's called Practice and not Performance.
Is meditation part of yr practice? If so, in what way? Meditation has been an absolutely indispensable part of my practice for years now. No matter what is going on with my body, meditation is always accessible, even if a meditative state is elusive. I sit for 10-20 minutes per day and more if my schedule allows. When I get particularly busy and stressed out, meditation will be given more time in my practice schedule than asana. Every single “sit” is different. Sometimes it can be blissful and full, other times it's a running commentary on everything that is (or ever has been) on my mind. But that regularity of showing up for myself and sitting with whatever is there compassionately, equips me for life like nothing else.
What tips would you give a new meditation or new yogi? Listen, listen, listen to your own voice, your own inklings, your own body, your own heart. Even if it seems like there are no messages coming through, listen. Even if the messages are garbled and indistinct, listen. Even if you don't want to hear what you're hearing, listen. The practices of yoga and meditation are, for me, about deep self-knowledge, trust and acceptance. All of those things start with listening and develop with persistent, consistent listening.
What does that mean? It means that if you go to a yoga class your friend loves but you don't, listen. Go find another class. It means that if yesterday a certain pose felt great, and today it feels less so, listen. Enquire as to why. If you need to stop, stop. If you need to shift, shift. If you're tired, respect that. If your mind is busy, listen. Not so much to the words but to the busyness. Develop a compassionate awareness of your own struggle and watch how the struggle eases a bit. Don't fight with yourself, befriend and respect yourself.
How can people bring yoga into their everyday? A million different ways. People can bring yoga into their everyday life with the simplest shift in awareness. Notice how you're standing, align in the way that you know enhances the flow of energy and information in your body. Bring awareness to your breath. What is it like? What happens if you smooth it out before that difficult conversation? The list goes on and on but it comes back to a quality of attention and listening in every situation and circumstance.
What is one thing that today you are grateful for? I am grateful for the lessons life has taught me. I am grateful for the support of my friends. I am grateful that the darkness eventually turns into light again.
How do you slow down and smell the roses? I am learning to do this better. For years I have been working, studying and practicing relentlessly. But this year, I have started giving myself weekends off from the computer and teaching as much as possible. I'd been teaching weekends for over six years and I needed that to stop. Taking two days off in the middle of the week is not the same for me as taking Saturday and Sunday off. It's almost like, when I've taken days off during the week, I could still sense everyone else working and so I inevitably started to work as well. It's like I wasn't able to rest when the energy of the day was not restful, if that makes sense. I suppose it could also be that I'm culturally habituated to consider Saturday and Sunday the weekend and somehow resist any other form of it?
In any case, taking two days off at the weekend has been blissful. I've had a few of them now and I'm hooked. I have puttered around, read books, eaten beautiful food, gone for little adventures with my partner, sought silence and nature. And it's immensely healing in a way that a 90 minute massage into an otherwise busy day is not. (I used to go for massage and think I was taking a break. But really, it was no where near as good for me as taking an actual break.)
Any ideas on stressing less & enjoying more? Determine what the non-negotiable self-care items are and do them. Pay attention to the changing landscapes of what you need. Some years, one massage per week could be just the thing. Other years, a full weekend off at least twice per month could be it. Listen and adapt to what you hear from yourself.
Find Kelly at Urban Yoga, and also Kelly Fisher Yoga. Tweet to her @yoginikelly or Facebook her at kellykfisher
THANKS so much for your time, Kelly xo