August’s Yogi of the Month resided in Penticton, but I feel like she has an open spirit and a love of the world. She has trained with many inspiring teachers and has collected and nurtured this wisdom. It is incredible to have such an educated instructor in our neighborhood. If you haven’t met Kamala yet, make a trip out to see her; she is well worth the drive!
1 What does yoga mean to you?
For me, yoga means living consciously. It’s a way of being that encompasses choices and interactions as well as a commitment to be present and fully immersed in whatever is happening right now.
2 When did you start yoga and how did that come to be?
I started attending beginner classes in 2000 as a form of rehab from a car accident. Following the accident, I wasn’t able to participate in my regular fitness routine of weightlifting and running so going to my first few yoga classes was an exploration in finding a way to move my body that wouldn’t produce pain.
3 Where and with whom did you study with?
My first certification was with the South Okanagan Yoga Academy (SOYA) in 2002 with Mugs McConnell and Dariel Vogel while I was simultaneously doing a 3 year yoga therapy mentorship with Dale McLean at Shioki Yoga in Penticton. As my interests and life changed, I studied with Pattabhi Jois in India then continued to do trainings with Tim Miller, Erich Schiffman and most recently Chris Chavez and Martin Kirk. Continued learning inspires me.
4 What kept you coming back to the mat and has that changed over time?
What kept me coming back to the mat initially is relatively the same now. I feel freer mentally, physically and emotionally afterwards as well as more clear and connected. 13 years ago I would have told you my hamstrings felt longer after practice, now I would tell you I am more available for life and I’m more anchored in who I am after I’ve spent time doing yoga.
5 What does yoga bring to your life?
Yoga brings healing, play, community, creativity, discipline, self inquiry and a self imposed accountability factor to my life.
6 How has your practice evolved?
My passions for various styles have evolved over the years but the practices I gravitated towards have always supported the rest of my life and the rest of my life has always supported my practices. While I enjoy moving my body in cool ways and exploring new physical places in my poses, these days I delight more in the insights and expansiveness that can arise when I practice with curiosity and heightened awareness.
7 How might you and/or your life be different if you hadn’t found Yoga?
Life would have been a lot different had I not found yoga. I would likely still be holding on to old beliefs about myself and the world and probably stuck in old behavior patterns that weren’t serving my growth. This level of wholeness yoga has brought to my life is why I am so committed to sharing it.
8 What is your “can’t do without” favorite pose?
A long held reclined twist. Whether I’m doing a strong or more restorative practice, it’s always in there.
9 Tell us about an asana you struggle with!!
There is always a long learning curve in arm balances for me. They teach me perseverance.
10 You inspire so many, who inspires you?
People who practice radical forgiveness, people who love uninhibitedly, people who take risks to follow their hearts & people who are devoted to bringing out the best in others inspire me.
11 What tips can you offer beginning students for a safe practice?
In a workshop with David Williams, great advice he gave us was to practice in a way that will make you want to come back to the mat tomorrow. And may I add, to let your practice be fueled by a combination of self compassion and dedicated effort. When a practice becomes “unsafe” or empty often one of those components is missing.
12 How about guidance for beginning teachers?
Develop a home practice as well as spend regular time in class with a teacher who inspires you. There is a discipline and sensitivity to internal shifts that is more easily had in a home practice yet your teaching and your practice will grow exponentially through being led to places you may not take yourself at home and being in class will help to develop your teaching language and class culture. You need a tour guide on your path to teaching but also a reliance on your inner compass.
Steps to improve a practice: show up over and over again without expectation and with utter acceptance of the condition in which you have arrived. Then, take the showing up, the zero expectations and the utter acceptance to your relationships, your work and what you create in the world. When yoga has spread off your mat and into other aspects of you life, then it’s no longer a yoga practice but a life practice which, I would say, is the whole point to embarking on a yoga path. Not only to improve our poses but to allow yoga to tremendously improve our lives.
14 Where are you teaching now and how can we find out more about you?
I am owner/director of Purple Lotus Yoga in Penticton where I teach regular classes and run teacher trainings in collaboration with SOYA (next 200hr is in March 2014). I lead winter Yoga Lifestyle Retreats in warm places where we dive into all the rich aspects of yoga: poses, breathwork, cleansing techniques, meditation, philosophy and inquiry (Dec 2013 is in Sayulita, Mexico).
Kamala is owner/director at Purple Lotus Yoga in Penticton. She teaches alignment based yoga as well as facilitates 200hr and 500hr yoga teacher trainings through the South Okanagan Yoga Academy as an ERYT-500 registered instructor (over 1600 hours of teaching experience). She is the author of the yoga poetry books “Poems From a Path” and “Totality”.