Why I do yoga – by Kim Booth

Inspired by the original ‘Why I do yoga‘ article, by Teresa Moninger, here is why I practice this beautiful soul spirit dance. – by Kim Booth

Before I knew what yoga was, I knew gymnastics. I have always been naturally bendy (it is in my family, and not as much of a blessing as some may think) and since I was a child, even though I could not run fast or jump high, I could bend and move my body.

I remember practicing the crab (Urdhva Dhanurasana) and the splits (Hanumanasana) on the school fields when I was little, which lead to me to attend weekly gymnastic classes.

I first heard of yoga when I was 16. My aerobics teacher gave us 15 minutes of relaxation at the end of the class and said it was this new thing she had been learning. I remember feeling relaxed, but didn’t have the awareness to really notice this as a positive aspect. I was quite deeply bulimic at this time, had an erratic nervous system (which I can see on hindsight) and all I cared about was eating and losing weight.

My late teens and early 20s were spent mostly raving, somewhere in the mix I found some yoga classes, but yoga never really stuck, it was just a fun thing that I could do that made my bendy body happy.

I found some yoga classes in Goa, India in 2008 and my interest started to get little more piqued. Later in the summer of 2008, my mum died. After an initial period of trying to numb myself, which more often than not landed me in alcoholic black outs, I found the real purpose of yoga. First I found a Bikram yoga deal in London, 30 days for £30 and went every day. This wasn’t the most appropriate form of yoga for me, as I would get yellow skin with blotches, almost pass out and sometimes vomit from the heat. But, I believe the intensity is what I needed to shift some deep, intense energies and emotions that needed to be released.

In the winter of 2009 I moved to New York. My first intention was to move there forever but as soon as I landed I knew it wasn’t for me. I moved with two of my good friends (who came for two months) and I soon realised I needed to step my energy up to get with the New York energy. So I went out a lot and partied a lot. My friends left after two months and I had one more month of my visa left in NYC. It was here that I found Jivamukti yoga.

“Jivamukti is a physical, ethical, and spiritual practice, combining a vigorous hatha yoga, vinyasa-based physical style with adherence to five central tenets: shastra (scripture), bhakti (devotion), ahimsā (nonviolence, non-harming), nāda (music), and dhyana (meditation).” – wikipedia

This was my first big step into yoga and it became my daily church for the next month. There were many amazing teachers and classes every day and to go and be able to flow my body, quiet my mind and find this centre of deep spiritual connection, nestled inside a city that never slept, was my haven. I fell in love with this style and the feeling it gave me. The scripture focus was always strong for me and the devotion aspect – dedicating your practice to someone else – really helped me start getting outside of myself.

I left New York energised from Jivamukti and on returning to London I found a beautiful yoga centre called Alchemy in the busy hub of Camden. My friend Trish, who has been a huge guide and inspiration on my spiritual path, took me to a kundalini class and not long after I moved close by and began to go almost every day. Here they had daily Jivamukti and also Kundalini classes, gong meditations and other classes to try out.  I learnt a lot under the tuition of Stewart Gilchrist, who is like this Scottish elf. His teaching style is so hard, but so needed, especially for London lifestyle. His classes pushed me deeper into my practice and his style influences my classes a lot (and I can tell when someone else has taught with him also), although my teaching flow is a lot less intense now (unless someone really needs it). I remember going every day and the proud feeling when I could get into a new posture or keep my balance for longer, which was also reflecting in my working life.

The main reason I do yoga is because of how it makes me feel. You know, we can go through a day, a week, and sometimes most of our lives not really knowing how we feel. Especially if any traumas occurred at a young age and we learnt to dissociate. With yoga I learnt how to feel and once the path began, I had to carry on. The biggest difference I notice when I practice regularly is my awareness is heightened, I am able to deeply look inside and work through my stuff, and day to day happenings don’t bother me as much. When I practice yoga it calms my nervous system, energises my body and mind and leaves me more grounded, yet with more energy inside. One thing I really notice is that I walk through life more open, more ready. I go through phases of not practicing and I don’t notice straight away, but my mind gets more down, my emotions more erratic and my focus off. And then I ‘do’ some yoga and I’m like ‘wow, why didn’t I do this before.’ I look at yoga like a dance. I love dancing, hence my many years on many dance floors around the world, and yoga is like a slower dance with intention to shift things, vibrate higher and connect deeper.

I attended my first training in 2012 in India. The first intention was to deepen my own practice. On the course I met some lovely souls and went deeper into the asana (posture) work and fell in love with the Bhakti element – yoga of devotion. We would sing, dance, massage, write what we loved about ourselves and eachother. My heart felt very happy doing this.

I returned to Ibiza in 2012 after the training and I began my slow transition out of dance music PR, which I had been working in since 2001. I began to teach weekly yoga classes at Pikes and my confidence started to rise. One of my favourite things I learnt on the first training, which will always stick with me, is that all I am is a channel. Our teacher told us to remember this on the training. And it really helped – to know that I am a divine channel between the stars and earth, takes the ‘me’ out of the way. I remember being drunk at a festival at some point in the next year (and probably at a few clubs also) and telling any DJ that was in my path that all they are is a channel and to get their ego out of the way and let the music talk. I got quite a few ‘looks’…

I spent the next few years learning, travelling, growing and my partying became less and less. I studied the Moon Course in Lake Atitlan and met some kindred warrior souls. I spent the winter in Iceland and studied tantra yoga and Icelandic shamanism. I went on extended courses at Esalen in California, spent time in Sedona, Mount Shasta, Mexico, Central America and more. I only taught sporadically as I was quite deeply in a learning phase, which lead to me starting Cosmic Pineapple in 2015, initially as a space to share the wisdom that I and others along the path had been learning.

On the 1st January 2016 my life changed forever and nothing since that day was the same any more. I suffered a huge family trauma that made me question everything that I had learnt spiritually; it made me question humans and myself and my life here. If it wasn’t for my strong support network of friends, my connection to spirit, my family and especially the pure hearts of children and animals, I would not be here.  I spent most of 2016 in a healing crisis, I had PTSD, yet I wasn’t aware of it and the biggest thing I noticed was my brain didn’t work how it used to and I often left and dissociated from my body when something came up that in any way disturbed me – good or bad. 2016 was mostly a blur. Yoga came back strongly into my life at moments to help me come back into my body and slowly I healed. At the end of 2016 I went back to Guatemala to study a further 300 hours yoga training. It was in a centre called the Mystical Yoga Farm, which from the name alone I was hooked. Here we went deeper into our practice and got many lessons, not all peace and light, of the yogic path. Here was  also my first deep introduction to crystal singing bowls. There was an Om dome on site; a natural structure made of bamboo and cow dung, that looked like a fairy house, and had amazing acoustics. They had a set of singing bowls in there and I would spend a lot of time playing, chanting and singing with the bowls. Here I began to really find my voice.

I got quite sick not long after the training and also after some ceremonial dance work and had to fly to England to rest. My friend Trish had just moved into a new retreat house in Ibiza, where she would hold her Soul Adventures Kundalini yoga retreats that summer and invited me to come and stay with her for a few days. I did and we practiced yoga and she helped me ground and come back into my body. Kundalini yoga is a whole other level of yoga, which works with kriyas over certain energy patterns.

Kundalini Yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras, such as Sat Nam, meaning “truth is my identity.” The goal is to build physical vitality and increase consciousness.

I moved back to Ibiza that summer and continued to practice with Trish and by mid summer I started to teach again. I also started to work with alchemy crystal bowls and began singing a lot and chanting a lot and bringing this into my practice and teaching. I spent the winter mostly in Ibiza, teaching regularly and earlier in 2018 I went to Nicaragua for one month to volunteer and teach at Inanitah – a conscious earth based community in Nicaragua.  Here I met some awesome people and had a great freedom to go deeper with yoga and the crystal bowls especially.

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Practicing yoga helps me to stay in my body and teaching helps me to stay in the yogic flow. I love the Nikola Tesla quote that everything is energy and when we look at energy holding patterns in our body and apply the wisdom that postures and breath can help us shift these energies, a beautiful healing can take place. If I look back at how I have danced all my life and how people dance now, it is not only a celebration but sometimes to shift energies we are not conscious to express.  I have started to look at Qi Gong also and to incorporate elements of this into my teachings. This is such powerful and simple work.

By practicing, I learn and go within. By teaching, I learn as I share. I could continue to do courses, but nothing compares to teaching.  I love working with different bodies types and levels. Teaching different levels teaches me so much – about slowing down, allowing and tuning in to the energetic flow that works for us all.

Yoga also keeps me in check. Just writing this I remember the feeling I get from it and when I refer back to the four paths of yoga, I get a little more in alignment with spirit. What drives people to this healing method? I know one thing for sure, what I learn and go through and heal allows me to become a healing channel for others. I hope I can be in service now and always with what I learn.

So, I do yoga to move, to dance, to feel, to connect, to soften. To allow spirit to flow through me. To connect my soul’s voice. To approach this thing called life from a higher perspective. I channel the wisdom of the ancients through my practice. I listen to what my body is telling me. I quiet my mind and I connect to my heart. I do it to feel my breath. To flow with the magic of life. To sit with what is, to flow with what is. To be with my spirit, awakened through the yogic dance.

I am excited to hold my first cosmic and creative yoga retreat from October 21 – 25 in Ibiza. We will focus on the energies of the higher three chakras – expression (which this piece is also inspired by), intuition and cosmic connection. Thank you for this beautiful path unfolding!

 

This post was written by Kim Booth 

 

*If you are a yoga teacher and would like to submit a ‘Why I do yoga’ article, please get in touch!

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