This Interview Appears In the CLA Real Property E-News Here
By John (J.R.) Richards
So I’m here with Kelli Corder who San Diego-based yoga teacher with a love for breathwork, mindfulness, and connection. She taught a Live Yoga Webinar for the CLA RPLS on February 6, 2021. The class was free for our section, but you could contribute voluntarily to pay Kelli. Stay tuned, she may be coming back for more!
Kelli’s experience is rooted in Vinyasa and Hatha classes and prefers to design her classes all bodies and abilities to make yoga
First off, Kelli, welcome! I see that you have offerings on YouTube, zoom, Facebook Live and Instagram Live. Tell us about how you currently teach yoga.
Thank you so much for having me! I do indeed offer Yoga in every nook and cranny of the internet. When our global pandemic hit, I immediately shifted gears from teaching 10-12 classes a week in person, to online. I teach such a huge variety of students and I knew I needed to reach them. Prior to March 2020, I had never explored teaching virtually! We all have different preferences with social media, just like our morning coffee. I found that YouTube was ideal for my high school, and senior community. Facebook and FB Groups have been ideal for working professionals, and my own family. I personally like Instagram best, because the student-teacher relationship seems more personal and I am most approachable. We can become friends, and connection always enhances our Yoga practice. The greatest challenge has absolutely been recording alone at home! Some days, I feel deeply connected to the students while teaching through the screen, and some days I feel like I am teaching Vinyasa to a wall, and sometimes a German Shepherd. This challenge has really given me tenacity and confidence that I can adapt to new situations and thrive.
I have the most Yoga content on my YouTube Channel, Kelli Corder. I do provide live classes on Instagram, and these are accessible anytime. I provide my Yoga content in so many locations because my #1 goal has been accessibility to my students amidst uncharted pandemic territories. Going forward, I have intentions of streamlining and monetizing my virtual content differently! I trust this will happen organically.
How do you film the classes and then finalize production?
I film my classes on my phone, attached to a tripod in my living room! Prior to hitting record, I try to make my living room transform into a Yoga studio. Creature comforts, like candles, incense, or water and coffee can really help our mind transition to a new space, even if we have been working, living, eating, and practicing Yoga in the same room all day. In a typical, in-person yoga class, there is no editing. No rewinding, erasing, or undoing. I try to mimic this acceptance of self in my online teachings by not editing my videos. I fumble over words or mix up my left side with my right side, alongside my students. We learn how to navigate kindness with self by accepting whatever comes out of our mouth, or enters into our mind, and going with it. From here, I can distribute one Yoga video to multiple platforms.
How often do you hold online classes? Do you charge for them?
I have been hosting online classes once a week, and holidays! I really enjoyed teaching a New Year’s Day flow this year, with themes of a fresh start and commitment to movement. I do not charge for these classes. I advertise these classes as free/donation based. I do accept donations and will typically suggest what a donation looks like for those new to the concept. A sliding scale of $10-$20 is commonly used for virtual class exchanges. Westernized Yoga is unique to its relationship with Yoga and monetization. The intention behind donations is meant to keep us untethered as both student and teacher. The knowledge and science of Yoga is not mine to keep, but rather, to share. If money is the obstacle that keeps us from the beauty of Yoga, then I remove that obstacle! Those that can give always do, and this faith-based practice is very fulfilling.
Can someone truly learn and practice yoga just starting from and practicing at home?
This is an excellent question, and one that many of us ask. Yes! Yoga is a multi-faceted practice, with 8 limbs of science and philosophy that fall under its wing. When we discuss the physical practice on a Yoga mat, we are discussing what is called asana, the movement with the physical body. This asana ‘limb’ is only 1/8th of what Yoga has to offer! We often do Yoga a disservice by thinking of Yoga as an exercise, rather than a lifestyle and way of living with many branches of accessibility. I am guilty of this too and hope to educate others on Yoga’s many facets. My answer is, absolutely, yes, someone can truly learn and practice Yoga starting and practicing from home. Learning the physical Yoga movements for the first time can be more difficult at home, but this exploration of feeling like ‘I don’t know what on earth I am doing’ is truly an indicator that you are doing something right! In fact, there is a term in Yoga for this. Svadhyaya is the act of self-study and observing oneself, which deepens our relationship with Yoga off the mat. The benefits of starting an asana practice at home are tremendous; there is less internal chatter about others around you, others watching you, and how silly you might think you look. Simply reading about and researching Yoga is a fun way to dip your toes into the water and is where I started my journey over 12 years ago.
What are some challenges a beginner might face?
Many beginners lose faith that Yoga isn’t for them, typically because the style or class they tried didn’t resonate with them or they didn’t like it. The class might be too fast, or too slow. The instructor might be too quiet, or too talkative. Your body might feel too stiff, or sore to the point of injury. These aren’t excuses, they are truths that surface when we try something new. The greatest challenge I see is the challenge to stay curious and keep trying. My greatest piece of advice I give all my students is this: Yoga is finding what you don’t like. Whether it be the pose, the music, the instructor, or your attitude, there will always be something you don’t like! The challenge is accepting this truth, and then trying something new until you do, indeed, like it. The beauty of Yoga is that each practice is a new opportunity. One day, you’ll hate a pose, but the next day, you may love it. Creating this awareness of self is indeed the journey. You never know what will arise within you when you step onto the mat. Remind yourself that no one has ever regretted doing Yoga!
What advice would you give some just starting to consider yoga?
Yoga can seem so far-fetched and unattainable when first starting. My advice is this: relate Yoga practice to another form of moving meditation that you enjoy regularly. Examples of moving meditation are walking, biking, gardening, driving, cooking, and painting. Anything can be your meditative practice. The feeling of ‘Yoga’ is this same feeling. Your Yoga doesn’t have to be the same as your neighbor’s Yoga. My other piece of advice? Instead of the iconic phrase, ‘no pain, no gain’…I say, ‘No pain, no pain!’ If you are in pain now, you will certainly be in pain 30 seconds from now. Listen to your body when something feels wrong. You deserve to be comfortable, and you did not come to Yoga class to put yourself in further pain and discomfort. This is not a ‘no pain, no gain’ practice. This takes great undoing.
Tell me about one of your most memorable or enlightening moments with yoga.
My transition from student to teacher was the most powerful. For years, I practiced Yoga and fantasized about being a teacher. I adored my yoga teachers and wished I could be more like them. I would dream about being a Yoga Teacher as if it were far-fetched. It took great courage for me to enroll in Yoga Teacher Training, and even more courage for me to start teaching large numbers of people. I am so glad I went for it! I will never forget the excitement of teaching my first class. And I still feel the excitement of being a student, becoming a teacher didn’t ‘ruin’ anything for me!
Who would you consider to be one of your mentors and why?
Susana Jones is a mentor, friend, and Yoga Therapist(C-IAYT) here in San Diego that has opened my eyes to so many forms of self-study. I graduated from Susana’s teacher training program 4 years ago and have continued to be inspired by her work. Many of the cues I use while teaching, and the way I sequence my classes, stem from her. I had never even heard of a Yoga Therapist before meeting Susana, and I highly suggest this form of therapy that applies Yogic techniques to specific health conditions. She is kind, approachable, and leaves me inspired every time I see her. Goals!
Attorneys face a lot of adversity in the jobs. Likewise, they tend to have deeper problems with addiction and substance abuse. How can yoga help attorneys with those concerns?
Knowing how impactful your job is on your community can add great stress to an attorney’s daily life. Always researching, adapting, and problem-solving can leave the mind and body depleted and desperate for relief. Yoga offers consistency, refuge, and immediate results, which is a really helpful tool to have in your ‘Yogi Toolbelt’ when dealing with substance abuse. Try adding Yoga topically, as needed. When addiction knocks, try Yoga as a substitute or distraction. After Yoga, then you are allowed to make decisions. I find that thinking of Yoga as a non-negotiable lifeboat, like brushing your teeth, or getting an oil change, keeps it simple. It becomes a no-brainer to add Yoga to your routine, quite literally, because there is no need to question how effective and beneficial it will be for your wellbeing, and in turn, your clients. Starting your day with Yoga and meditation leaves you more equipped to handle what the day throws at you. When reaching for relief at the end of a long day, try a 10-minute Yoga video before partaking so that you are more grounded and aware of your state of mind.
Attorneys, like many other professionals, are overscheduled. How can yoga help them with that?
Yoga helps you think clearly, and quite literally rewires the synapses of the brain. Yoga may help improve your decision-making skills, changing the way you move and think, and in turn, create more time and space in your day. Rather than Yoga being another scheduled task that depletes energy, Yogis begin to realize that the practice replenishes their energy levels, unlike a chore or work task. The most important awareness that working professionals need is the awareness of being overscheduled. Knowing when you are overscheduled is half of the battle, and Yoga helps us be more honest and realistic when making these realizations. Use this awareness of being overscheduled as reminder to be less harsh on yourself, and more kind with expectations. After a 12-hour workday, a 60-minute high-paced Yoga class does not seem an appropriate use of energy. I suggest a form of Yoga called Yoga Nidra. This practice is simple; laying on your back with eyes closed, a Yoga Nidra teacher will guide you through breathwork and visualization. This practice can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as 2 hours, and I truly swear by it. It is said that 30 minutes of Yoga Nidra is the equivalent of 90 minutes of sleep!
Can yoga teacher teach attorneys and others for that matter about anything about perseverance?
Yoga makes you aware of how much perseverance you truly have within, all along. Attorneys have such resilience and tenacity; perseverance is demanded and required with the job. Think of the attention to detail that goes into the day of an attorney: The level of detail given to your job, your schedule, your home life, your partner, your children- Yoga asks you to give that level of detail to yourself!… for only a few minutes of the day. Taking the perseverance present in your work-life and dispersing a bit to yourself is powerful. You will directly reap the benefits of your hard work on the Yoga mat, and feeling your own perseverance is strengthening. You are gifting yourself with the same resilience you give everyone else.
One of the things I noticed in yoga is that it often times asks the simplest hardest questions. I saw an online show where you asked, “How will I show myself kindness.” The question seems simple, but my psyche is very resistant to address the question. Why is it so hard to do that?
Be proud of your awareness of resistance! These questions often bring up internal resistance because we can decide that we want to be kind to ourselves, but then not feel the kindness at all or know what that looks like. We know we want kindness, but it might be absent. And sometimes, soul-searching questions just don’t resonate with us, and that’s okay. We take what we need and filter out the prompts that don’t serve us. The kindness that you need will change each day, and so, Yoga often asks us the same questions over and over to see what the present-moment answer is. Some days, being kind with yourself means noticing every time your internal chatter about yourself is negative. Some days, being kind means choosing not to give yourself a guilt-trip that you didn’t do the dishes. And some days, kindness is comfort food.
I have also seen people get really emotional on the mat by simply going into child’s pose. Do you know why yoga can be so emotional for people?
I’ve been there! When we create new sensations in our physical body, we often create new sensations in our minds and hearts. In child’s pose specifically, we are in a state of surrender, bowing down to the earth and lowering our head below our heart. We open the hips wide and keep the arms overhead: two things we rarely do in our daily routine of standing, sitting, and sleeping. The new sensations that travel through the body also creates new sensations in the mind, and this looks different for everyone. The physical body truly keeps score, recording all of life’s traumas and pain. When we open the body through Yoga and breathwork, many stored experiences are releasing from the body. Some days this feels euphoric, and some days it can feel emotional. Many report that our hips store great emotions, like anger and heartache, and that our shoulders store responsibilities and expectations. This can be overwhelming for many!
Any last remarks for our group? We are exciting to practice with you in February!
What a beautiful opportunity to talk about my favorite topic in this lifetime, Yoga! Stay curious. A wise teacher once told me, how you do anything is how you do everything. Always do your best, and remember, you are just as much a teacher as you are a student. Namaste!