Kia Miller is leading an immersion at Wanderlust Snowshoe next month! You won’t want to miss this deep dive into her Radiant Body Kundalini Yoga—trust us. For tickets and more information, click here.
Yoga, at its core, has a meaning of union—the yoking of body and mind. Yet even among our own global yoga community, we can often feel separate, disconnected. It can seem overwhelming to go to a new class, to try a new style of yoga, or even to practice with a new teacher. We manage to create comfort zones in our practice and stay in them. Kia Miller, yogini and teacher of Radiant Body Yoga, says that perhaps, in an effort to justify our resistance to change, “we often claim that ‘our yoga’ is the ‘right’ yoga. Our teacher is the ‘right’ teacher.”
If we want to evolve as yogis and to refresh our own practice, she says, we should be open to widening our horizon and the possibility of embracing something new.
Kia has made trying new things a way of life. After childhood in the Falkland Islands, she moved to England where she began to study yoga at age 15. She then traveled the world as a model and filmmaker before settling down in California, where she now teaches. Her personal style combines her love for Ashtanga and Vinyasa with Kundalini yoga.
“Whether it’s Iyengar or Kundalini or Ashtanga, or another type of yoga, what I’ve learned is that there is power and transformation within all styles, and that becoming attached to one way as ‘right’ actually limits our experience,” says Kia.
“We can stay balanced throughout life’s changes if we modify our practice to meet us wherever we are on a particular day.”
It’s not as if she doesn’t understand preferences. The first time Kia took a Kundalini class, she walked away thinking it was “weird.” Regardless, it ended up being one of the most transformative practices she had ever ever done. “I practice and teach Kundalini still, and it has changed my life,” she says.
That is to say, though one yoga style may resonate with us more than another, when we keep our minds and hearts open we can see that there are many paths to the one, that all yoga comes from the same source. Then, according to Kia, we truly begin to understand yoga as union.
Once we’ve mastered this openness in our practice—when we understand the yes and, as in, yes I love this AND I see the potential in that too—it translates to our lives beyond the mat. It strengthens our ability, Kia says, to be ambassadors in the world for a heightened way of living. “We are practicing to become a person who, when confronted outside of our comfort zone, can stay open to the opportunity that is presented to us, and to remain neutral in the face of challenge. This is ultimately why we practice,” she says.
There are also times in our life where different practices will be called for. “We can stay balanced throughout life’s changes if we modify our practice to meet us wherever we are on a particular day,” says Kia. Whether it’s aging, or having a family, or changing job or location, we inherently know that doing the same thing over and over isn’t always going to be the best fit.
One of the greatest challenges about trying a new yoga practice is the new community we will join—it’s almost like making a pilgrimage. We have to leave what we know to go and explore another dimension of who we are. Practicing together in community is an essential part of our growth as yogis. “In many ways, it is coming together as a group when our practice expands and grows even more quickly. We energetically support and inspire one another to grow, to embrace new practices and to embrace the deeper teachings of yoga” says Kia.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stepping out of your comfort zone, Kia suggests trying the following:
Breath for Clarity and Balance
1. Sit in a comfortable position, spine straight, chin slightly in.
2. Inhale in four equal strokes (sniffs through the nose), then exhale in one long stroke.
Says Kia: “This four-stroke segmented breath will open up your lung capacity and elevate your mood and energy. We normally breathe around 15 times per minute, but this technique will help you to slow down your breath and develop a new breath rhythm. The more control we have of our breath, the more control we have of our mind.”
Helen Avery is a senior writer for Wanderlust Media. She is also a journalist, writer, yoga teacher, minister, and full-time dog walker of Millie, residing in Brooklyn, New York. You can find out more about her on her website, Life as Love.