Kelli Audibert is one of Flow’s most experienced teachers, having taught with us for close to our entire ten-year history. She and Megan, our owner, worked together at AOL and have a long history in our yoga community. Following a recent trip to India, Kelli took some time out to sit down with the Flow Blog and here’s what we learned about one of the original Flowgis.
FB: Hi, thanks for joining us. When did you get back from this incredible trip and how was it?
Thanks for having me! It’s a pleasure to share my journey with you. I returned from India at the end of October after 10 days in Rishikesh. Rishikesh is located in the foothills of the Himalayas and is considered the “yoga capital” of India. It is a very sacred place though where many rishis and gurus have lived, taught and been inspired. I always feel like my answer to “How was India” is unexpected. Everyone expects to hear “It was great, amazing, fantastic!” And it is all of those things. But India is also challenging and uncomfortable. It is the one place I have found in the world where you MUST surrender or you will be miserable. So, I can’t just give a rote answer of “It was great!” I have to say all of the other things along with it.
FB: How many times does that make it for you and what kinds of things did you see?
This was my third trip to India. I trekked in the Himalayans to Gomukh, the source of the Ganges River, in 2011. In 2012 I visited the south of India in Kerala where I learned more about Ayurveda in teacher training. This trip was a deeper exploration of Rishikesh and immersing myself more in daily householder Indian life.
FB: We imagine that a trip like that is all about practicing yoga in ancient temples, deep inside the jungles, but what’s it really like?
Oh goodness, that sounds a lot like Indiana Jones! Well, India is pretty hot, there are jungles and forests and there are a lot of monkeys, tigers and elephants, oh my! India gives you the opportunity to walk and pray in sacred places and they are open to everyone. There is a presence that inspires deeper spirituality and devotion – bhakti. You have the opportunity to visit and experience ancient temples and the locations where the stories took place. What was sung and taught from the Vedas is alive here and revered.
“It is an opportunity to truly connect with your spiritual side and deepen your practice on a subconscious level. You appreciate why you need to understand the philosophy, the why, behind yoga. It’s much more than physical practice.”
I remember my very first class. Newly graduated from teacher training I was fortunate and honored to be offered the Wednesday night 7:30pm class – a class I still teach today! I meticulously created a playlist of fun music and decided to teach the sequence I created in training since I was most familiar with it, adopting the “teach what you know” philosophy. I felt so incredibly blessed because many of my friends at the studio, fellow students as well as fellow teachers came to my first class. They made me feel incredibly loved and supported that teaching that first day turned out to be much easier than I thought. I am smiling now just thinking about it!
FB: Did you ever practice or teach at the first location, on Plaza St, and if so, what was that like?
I practiced there every Tuesday night until we moved to the Market Station location! Megan stopped teaching at AOL and I just followed her to Plaza Street. I remember how peaceful the studio felt – soft green walls, light wood floors. I started out as front desk support to help pay for the classes. I always knew I wanted to teach; I just wasn’t ready at that point.
FB: In your bio, you talk about practicing for eight years before becoming a teacher. Can you elaborate a little more on this evolution?
I think I had to discover myself in yoga first before feeling ready to share yoga as a teacher. I wanted to understand the how and much more the why. Megan was an inspiration as a teacher because she showed that it was possible to combine the how (physical asana practice) with the why (spiritual).
FB: You’ve experienced so many different trainings and teachers, tell us about some of the highlights in your practice? Any stories you can share from this great journey?
Let’s see – Baptiste Power Yoga with Baron Baptiste, Prana Flow Yoga with Shiva Rea, Universal Yoga with Andrey Lappa, Yin Yoga (Wisdom Yoga) with Kellie Atkins, Restorative Yoga with Shannon Paige, Ashtanga Yoga with Michael Gannon and Ayuryoga with Maria Garre. I’ve also delved deeply into Ayurveda with Maria Garre and Jyotish with Radhe. The “style” of yoga I feel most at home with is Prana Flow. I enjoy the creative fluidity and intelligent sequencing, as well as the intentional staged approach, both in practicing and in teaching. But the other styles I have studied are woven into my classes and my own personal practice. You are always a student and all styles and teachings of yoga are valuable and important.
FB: Having taken your classes, we recall it being extremely thorough and full-bodied – we had a great time – what’s your overall or macro approach to teaching?
It is most important to me that the class be accessible to all practitioners, regardless of skill or athleticism. I utilize the kramas (stages) of the poses and practice heavily in my classes. The second most important thing is that everyone has fun. You don’t need to take yourself too seriously in yoga. Try your best, let go of the need to be perfect and enjoy yourself! The rest (getting in shape, quieting the mind, blah, blah, blah) is just added bonus.
FB: Having so much experience, do the sequences just come to you, or are you preparing what you’re going to teach before every class?
It depends on the day and honestly, on where I am in my own life at the moment. Some days I am truly inspired and make it up as I go. Some days I’ve had a really rough time at work or have been challenged mentally to the max, so a paper sequence is so helpful. I call the paper sequences my “notecards”. They provide inspiration and a template that I almost always deviate from. But it also makes sure I teach a 75 minutes class as opposed to a 3 hour epic yoga session!
FB: Do you frequently introduce new poses to your teaching sequences, or do you stick with the classics?
Since I teach level 1, I focus more on finding new ways to get to familiar poses. It is very important to continue to practice the basics. Sometimes they are harder than the crazy pretzel poses you see online! The classics make it possible for you to master the more advanced poses. It’s all about the journey, not the destination, right?
FB: We heard you sometimes share your mat with your cats, what are their names and how is their practice going?
I practice early every morning. Sometimes it’s for 5 minutes and sometimes I am lucky and practice for 45! It all depends on the day. But my constant yoga companions are my cats. They are fascinated by what I am doing. Princess, my Siamese, likes to lay on my back when I am in child’s pose or on my belly in savasana. Lewis, one of my tabbies, sits on one end of my mat or the other. I have to step around him in my sun salutations. Christian, my grey tabby, usually sits on the other end of the mat. He has also been known to hop up onto my shoulder while I am in trikonasana. The other cats – Xander, William, Peeta, Prim, Nikita, Clark, Rue and Katniss – all watch from the sidelines.
Thanks for catching up with us.
Of course, my pleasure!