(Ketanga) What do you love the most about yoga?
(Kayla) A distinguishing feature of yoga that appeals to me is that it’s highly adaptable. Yoga can be tailored to accommodate a range of body types, levels of conditioning, injuries, and differently-abled bodies. We typically think of yoga as a physical practice that builds strength and flexibility, but for many people, the benefits of yoga include gaining mental clarity through meditation and mindful breathing or developing spiritual resiliency by studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
If I’m being completely honest though, what I love most about yoga isn’t deep or philosophical. I love that my practice has taught me to commission my own body as functional (and free!) exercise equipment, which makes squeezing in a workout significantly easier when I’m on the go. I feel reassured and liberated knowing I’m inherently equipped with all the “tools” I need to maintain my fitness regimen anywhere.
You have a three-song playlist, what’s on it?
1.) Cotton-Eyed Joe, 2.) Cotton-Eyed Joe, and 3.) Cotton-Eyed Joe Remix ft. Pitbull.
KIDDING! That last one isn’t even a song…I hope? I’m stalling because this is a tough question for someone like me, who is equal parts music lover and cripplingly indecisive. Some of my all-time favorite artists include Andre 3000 and Big Boi of Outkast, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, Beyoncé, and Billie Eilish. That said, here is my three-song playlist, which I reserve the right to change a minimum of four times before I complete this senten--
1. ATLiens – Outkast
2. Hide (Tropkillaz Remix) [feat. Childish Gambino] – N.A.S.A
3. The Next Episode – Dr. Dre
What is your advice for someone just starting out their practice?
Fall on your face! Seriously. The fear of falling often prevents us from trying poses, particularly arm balances. Sometimes our perception of our physical limitations is no more than a self-inflicted psychological barrier. It goes without saying that maintaining proper alignment and working your way up to the full expression of any arm balance is a mandatory prerequisite before attempting to strike a pose that’d make the Instagram Gods bless the rains down in Africa, but once you’ve mastered the basics, give yourself unconditional permission to faceplant. Surviving a fall empowers you to pick yourself up with both your front teeth and your ego intact.
What about your inside tips on mastering a yoga pose... let's say crow pose?
While I can appreciate how metal it is to brag about having bruises on the backs on your triceps after practicing crow pose all day, it means you’re probably dumping too much weight into your triceps in lieu of engaging your core. Here are some cues I think of when I practice crow pose that may be helpful for you as well:
What excites you about hosting a fitness retreat?
I’m really looking forward to meeting fitness-oriented folks with whom I can explore beautiful landscapes, share lots of laughs, and above all, create yoga classes that are so fun and challenging, the tears of joy staining their cheeks will become indistinguishable from the beads of sweat dripping from their perfect little foreheads. I have kept in touch with all the incredible friends I made on my last Ketanga Fitness retreat and I’m excited to make more.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
I have webbed toes! (No, unfortunately they don’t make me notably faster at swimming.)
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t put yourself in a position where you are the smartest person in the room. Surround yourself with vibrant, interesting people from whom you are always learning and growing.