I’ll be forever grateful to Wellington Yoga teacher Kelly Fisher for a number of reasons.
The first is that she and fellow (now ex-)Yoga Unlimited owner Lynda Miers-Henneveld organised the last two years of Global Mala, giving me the opportunity to train my way into 108 sun salutations. The Wellington yoga community turned out to enjoy an afternoon of kirtan, yoga and chai. (Watch out for this year’s event coming in September).
Yoga Unlimited are also the yoga studio that brought Prana Flow master teacher Twee Merrigan to Wellington.
Plus Kelly was one of the yogis that made the The Yoga Lunchbox yogi photo shoot at Oriental Parade, Wellington such a fun-tastically wonderful day.
She’s passionate about her yoga, and generally just an awesome person to spend time with. I’ve been waiting for her teacher profile for a few weeks now, and it’s definitely been worth the wait.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I’m a licensed Anusara-Inspired™ yoga teacher and have studied Iyengar Yoga and Prana Vinyasa Flow Yoga extensively, plus dabbled in other styles of yoga. I teach at Urban Yoga on Willis Street in Wellington.
2. How did you come to yoga?
I used to be a 6-day/week at the gym kind of girl. Then I found myself staying for a couple of months with a friend who lived in a place that did not have a gym nearby. Noticing that I was getting a little antsy without any appreciable form of physical activity available to me, she suggested that I practice yoga with her and Rodney Yee (on DVD). I agreed but I was skeptical as to whether yoga would be an acceptable alternative to the gym for me.
Boy, was I wrong. After the very first session of the “Conditioning for Life” DVD, I realised that not only did yoga meet my physical fitness requirements but it also touched on something deeper. For the entire time I was struggling to keep up with the “silly yoga DVD”, my mind was totally focused on that and only that. Everything else faded into the background and when I resurfaced in the real world, things seemed more manageable.
From that day, yoga became my new passion. Every single day I got in front of that DVD and my friend began to teach me things she had learned in classes. My appetite quickly became ravenous and I went to find experienced teachers with whom to work. Less than a year after the inaugural DVD session, I had completed my first 350 hour teacher training.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
When I realised that it offered a toolkit not only for managing my body, but for managing my mind and my spirit. One stop shopping!
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
I used to work 80 hours a week as a computer programmer in the corporate world. I used all the usual forms of aneasthetic to get through my days but I knew something was missing. Nowadays, I run a yoga studio which presents just as many challenges as the corporate world did but I have the definite sense that nothing is missing. Things are unfolding as they should be and when difficulties arise, I’ve got my practice in which to take refuge and to use as a laboratory for finding solutions.
Not to be cliche, but there is no way in which yoga has NOT transformed my life. Physically, I am stronger, faster, better than I ever have been in my life. Mentally, I am more flexible and open. Spiritually, I am able to find opportunities for nourishment where before I may have only seen obstacles.
Being in my own skin is decidedly easier these days! Yoga has softened my edges and strengthened me considerably. As Desiree Rumbaugh puts it:
“Yogis are strong on the inside but soft on the outside”.
5. What is your home practice like?
I like to start my day with a little bit of pranayama and meditation very first thing. Normally it only lasts about a half an hour but I find that it sets me up for my day on even ground.
Then I like to fit at least an hour’s worth of asana somewhere into the rest of my day. I believe in quality and not quantity. Because of the way we sequence asana in Prana Flow, you can build a very effective asana practice in a very short amount of time.
The challenge for me is to stay present in my body for the entire duration of the practice. If I can be fully on my mat for 30 minutes, then that’s an effective practice for the day. If I spend 90 minutes on my mat with my mind off in a million different directions because I have too much else to do, I don’t feel like I’ve used my time well. But it’s all part of the practice, isn’t it?
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
My basic answer is that yoga is a system of self-management that serves you where you are. It offers amazing physical benefits and rather serendipitously it would seem, can have a tremendous effect on your mind and your spirit as well.
Depending on who asks. People have so many preconceived notions about what yoga is or is not. If I gave my passionate, entrenched-in-the-yoga world answer to someone who was a little trepidatious about yoga, I would run the risk of alienating them from something that could serve them. On the other hand, if I were to give a safe, bland answer to someone who is really seeking then I am not truly meeting them where they are or offering them any path for their evolution.
Of course, knowing what I know now, one cannot escape the holistic effect of yoga on one’s life. Yoga is not for the faint of heart – it will rock your world. Serendipity has nothing to do with it – but sometimes, just throwing that out there could be off-putting for someone who just wants a little peace of mind (or exercise or whatever) and thinks yoga might give it to them! I would hate to scare someone away from such a rich opportunity for growth and transformation by giving the wrong level of information at the wrong time.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
People can expect a safe alignment-focused class that has a little bit of “juice” thrown in for good measure. My goal is to help people to listen to their own bodies so I like to offer internally guided alignment cues. I want to help students figure out how the postures can serve them and not how they can achieve the perfect poses.
I also like to add a little spice and flavour to my classes in the form of creative sequencing and delicious music vibes. One of my favorite props to use is music. I find it helps students to ease from thinking mind into a more feeling space.
My classes begin with a few minutes space to turn inward, connecting with body, mind and breath. We then move into some warm ups before flowing through cycles of sun salutations and standing postures. Once we’ve built heat and dispersed or created some energy, we begin to wind down with more soothing postures and a little bit of pranayama and/or meditation before the final relaxation.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
I love getting to know my students on an individual basis and watching how yoga serves them over time. Because our classes at Urban Yoga are small, I have the luxury of learning everyone’s name and, if they want to share, more about their day-to-day lives. It’s so rewarding to become part of the fabric of my students’ lives. When I stand in front of my classes, I have the sense of being exactly where I need to be at that moment, in the company of good friends on our collective and individual journeys.
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
I wish that everyone knew that the practice of yoga has amazing healing power.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
World peace begins with individuals. The world cannot possibly be peaceful or even pleasant to live in if individuals’ minds and spirits are in chaos. If each of us took responsibility for our own well-being using the tools offered by yoga then our relationships would transform. Your inner alignment dictates your outer alignment. Once relationships flow more smoothly, then organisations can flow more smoothly, thereby achieving more good….and so on. Yoga offers us a way to heal ourselves and the flow on effect is healing to the world at large.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
To paraphrase Paul Muller-Ortega: The universe conspires on our behalf – where you put your energy, the universe augments it. When you embark on a new venture, such as yoga, all you have to do is keep showing up, putting in sincere effort and letting go your expectation of the results. If you stay open to the possibilities, the opportunities for magic are unlimited! Don’t limit the magic but imposing your ideas of what you think the results should be!
12. And finally, how do people find you?