Astanga is one of the most physically demanding yoga styles, which is why that photo of Kiri displaying such grace and ease in the midst of challenge is so beautiful.
She’s demonstrating the mix of hard and soft, strong and flexible that epitomizes yoga.
Like many yoga teachers, Kiri first began yoga to help with physical issues, which lead to a daily practice.
It’s that commitment to daily practice that really helps the benefits of yoga to unfold, and is the beginning of the development of a yoga teacher.
In the words of Sri K Pattabhi Jois, the astanga guru:
Do your practice and all is coming.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I teach Astanga yoga at the Wellington Yoga Centre on the corner of Abel Smith and Kensington Streets.
2. How did you come to yoga?
I did a beginner’s course around 1997 at the New Zealand School of Yoga to ‘fix’ some body aches. It involved learning a few standing asana and I got pretty conscientious about it and it worked!
I practiced them everyday for a couple of years while I was traveling. I loved the peace and quiet and sense of improvement I got from them.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
I guess I already had the yoga bug! – but things became more focused when I started doing Astanga in 2000.
I was crazy about it (though i found it pretty difficult in some ways) but it felt right and i dived right in. I practiced all the time with lots of help from people at the Auckland Yoga Academy and Peter Sanson who talked me into going to meet Sri K Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India as soon as possible!
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
It’s an amazing thing to have a practice that can change the way I feel mentally and physically in just a few minutes. My life is infinitely more positive from developing a daily yoga practice. And I have been lucky to meet some really wonderful people along the way.
5. What is your home practice like?
I practice by myself a lot except when I visit Peter Sanson for classes. I follow the astanga series, doing as much as possible each day! The length of time and amount varies obviously but this method works like magic for me; the day is transformed. It still surprises me!
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
Its really different for everyone – it’s a personal experience!
These days you can make it into almost anything you like really(!) but i think its mostly about developing awareness.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
Traditional astanga! – some sweat, some change, some quiet, and to feel totally refreshed afterwards.
You learn the astanga sequence slowly so that you become independent and comfortable in the poses. You also receive some gentle adjustments to align poses and release tension. You learn about how the breathing changes everything! And if you look quite closely you can learn about yourself.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
A sense of passing on something that I believe in.
Seeing the immediate positive change in students (happy glowing face and relaxed body) but also more significant changes when people practice regularly.
I really like it when people spontaneously tell me its improving their life!
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
Its better and easier when you do some everyday!
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
Individual fulfillment and personal awareness.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
Anyone can do astanga! You don’t need to be young or bendy you just need some enthusiasm, patience, persistence, and humility!
12. And finally, how do people find you?
Email me email@example.com, check out my website, or just come to a class!