Yoga is the Science of Self-Realization. This time-tested path found me when my body and mostly my mind needed healing and guidance. I believe that the world of yoga is so vast and full of so many transformative tools that anyone can become a practitioner of this great science and make it a way of life. As an instructor, I push my students to develop a “sadhana" or personal practice that keeps them in touch with their higher Self and in harmony with the cyclical rhythms of nature and life. My classes are full of passion; utilizing music, mantras, and mudras to convey very specific themes, relevant to the culture we live in. To teach is simply to learn twice as they say and so I am forever grateful to my own teachers Annie Okerlin, Alison Cramer, Kelly Morris, Barb Newborn and most importantly Tony Nenov for providing guidance on the path of yoga and always reminding me of the importance of practice and detachment. Namaste-
Kelly is the owner and founder of Sattva Yoga Seminole Heights and is a 500 hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance. She completed her 230-hour yoga teacher training with Asheville Yoga Center in 2009 and has recently received her 500 Hour advanced teaching certification through Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in NYC. She has a background in dance, a degree in Fitness and Wellness from the University of Florida, a love of Ayurveda, and is slowly and steadily studying her way through the Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali sutra by sutra with the guidance of Tony Nenov and A. G. Mohan.
What led me to yoga?
A major dance injury in college sort of “forced” me into a yoga practice actually! As a dance minor in college at UF, Yoga postures were typically used in warm-ups, even within the choreography. I always despised them, haha! I had really tight hamstrings, and like zero upper body strength back then. Postures like Downward Facing Dog were a lot of work and uncomfortable in my body! After severely spraining my ankle and moving home to Tampa for an internship, I found Yogani in South Tampa and began practicing Bikram. I loved the mirror, the sweat, and being able to “do” the poses. My obsession with having a fit & thin body kept me coming back. It is very weird to reflect back on that mindset now, in 2017 about 10 years later. My purpose for practicing is almost completely to benefit my heart and mind now!
What does your personal practice look like?
My personal practice or Sadhana as it is referred to in Sanskrit is made up of 5 staples.
- I open the windows. In my home, my yoga room, my studio, hotel, etc. Wherever I am practicing has to have a lot of light. If I lived in the mountains, I would almost always sit outside I think! But Florida heat isn’t the best for that!
- I meditate. I try to sit daily. A few years ago I took a vow to sit every day that year. I believe it was 2015. That made all the difference. It became such a commitment that I got used to it, made space for it, began to CRAVE it. Can not imagine living my life and not meditating. It is probably the single most important thing that I do in my day.
- I chant. I began to incorporate chanting into my life about 6 years ago. It was weird at first, and now it brings me so much peace. I love mantra. I consider myself a practitioner of Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of the Heart. Chanting can be whatever you want it to be, serve any purpose. For me, it is an act of devotion to the divine.
- I offer gratitude. To my teachers specifically. And then for my life. To practice yoga is a gift. To teach yoga is an even greater gift. I am in love with my life. Every day there is stress. I opened a yoga studio and even though I am living a life I love, things can feel overwhelming at times. Gratitude keeps me balanced, and HUMBLE. It keeps my heart soft.
- I touch the ground. Out of respect for the Mother Earth and all she provides. Namaste.
Books I recommend:
1. The Path of Practice by Bri Maya Tiwari. This book changed my life, a couple of times! It taught me how to start to heal myself. And how to use rituals as a way to help honor my life and ancestors. It also taught me about the power of the MOON!
2. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, commentary by Aranya. This edition of the sutras has a bright yellow cover, and it is DENSE! But an essential resource for any serious practitioner of yoga. Changed my life, and continues to change my life.
3. The Journey Within by Radhanath Swami. A book about Bhakti that I am reading right now written by an American Swami. Founder of the Bhakti Center in NYC. Full of beautiful insights and stories. An inspiring read so far!