Kelly-Jean Moore, one of our Local Collective featured teachers, is co-owner of Mission Yoga Studio in Charleston, South Carolina by day. She agreed to answer 20 Questions with Gather! We heart Kelly with all our hearts. Almost as much as she does bread. Read on…
GY: What is your go-to yoga pose when you’ve only got a few minutes to practice? Why do you think it’s so appealing?
KJ: Often when I have time for a long practice I do a lot of exploratory work on the floor and a lot of alteration of traditional poses and tweaking of the popular order of events so when I am rushed I just go back to the basics. Triangle is one of my favorite poses of all time. Lately I’ve been working with systematically bending joints that are traditionally straight in order to access more core connection.
GY: Early morning routine? What’s yours? Coffee? Tea?
KJ: My alarm goes off at 6:45am and I go straight to the kettle, boil water for my Earl Grey tea, and try to carve out 20 minutes of quite for myself…or I am awakened by the toddler call of “mommy, Hold YOU!!”….in which case I go straight to the fridge for my son’s milk and then we take a cuddle in the big bed before starting the morning circus…. Sometimes I do a simple set of the ten churnings and a meditation before my tea.
GY: What is one song you never get tired of hearing?
KJ: Do I really have to pick one? That feels so limiting…ok…how bout 3 classics?
Astral weeks by Van Morrison
Night Swimming by REM
Kind of Blue by John Coltrane
GY: Do you have a favorite quote, affirmation, or saying that gets you through the tough times? What is it?
KJ: Hmmm, they change but I do chant om gam ganapataye namaha every time I fly….flying triggers me…I go into an existential crisis each time we hit a bump and I pull out the old remover of obstacles for assistance.
GY: How would you describe your yoga teaching style?
KJ: Errr…. explanatory …I like to TEACH. My intention is always to use the asana in service of prana, prana in service of expanded consciousness, and consciousness in service of the highest good. I try to leave room between concepts and poses for personal inquiry….I have been described as creative and playful but recently a student told me that I’m intense. Thank you, I guess? I don’t know. I use so many different tools to explore the body-mind that it is hard for me to describe what I do. I think good teachers teach differently to different students.
GY: How old were you when you fell in love with the practice of yoga? What was so appealing about it to you?
KJ: I got into Theatre around the age of thirteen and practiced a lot of movement and awareness exercises that were yoga-ish and I started studying eastern Philosophies in high-school but didn’t find “yoga” until I was 23. I fell hard and fast. I knew after the first practice that I would become a teacher.
GY: What made you want to become a yoga teacher?
KJ: I’m a talker and a thinker by nature…I feel like I was groomed for this work all of my life. Even my rocky childhood seemed to prepare me for this journey. Teaching is what I’m good at and what brings me joy. That said, Its funny that so many of us teach as a means to deepen our own practice and then realize it becomes harder to do that when we try to make teaching our livelihood. We find ourselves running all over town to make ends meat battling being broke and tired… I’ve had to learn to be fierce in my dedication to really do both. It isn’t for everyone. Just because you love yoga doesn’t mean you should teach it.
GY: Describe yourself at 21.
KJ: I was a hot mess. I turned 21 in New Orleans and got lost in a sea of self-destructive partying. Yoga and the support of an old friend helped me find myself again.
GY: What would you say has been one of the best parts of growing up, getting older?
KJ: Learning how to love and be loved has been the great challenge of my adult life. Love changes everything.
GY: Snack wise, what is your greatest weakness, what can you simply not pass up?
KJ: Bread. Sweet or savory, I heart bread.
GY: What are a couple of traits of your own that you hope your kids (or future kids) may inherit. Maybe a couple you hope they don’t?
KJ: I hope my son inherits my love of music and my silly moods. I hope he is playful and wild and unabashedly himself. I hope he does not inherit my temper or my disorganization. I pray he will understand love sooner than I did.
GY: Describe your first love, in six words or less.
KJ: Consuming, destructive, and educational…
GY: A Sunday all to yourself, how do you spend it?
KJ: My morning would be spent on my back deck reading fiction. Practice followed by lunch, followed by a nap would be next on the to-do list. An evening stroll down to the boat landing in my neighborhood would be a perfect prelude to a simple meal, a glass of wine, and some more reading or a Woody Allen movie. Then to bed, to sleep, to dream☺. If I had several days to myself with no work or parenting responsibilities I would get around to some creative expression like writing or even making something with my hands.
GY: What about a night out on the town? Who would you spend it with? What would you do?
KJ: My partner and I are always overdue for date-nights. We both love music so if given the time, we would go listen to some tunes and grab a bite. There is a place close to my studio called Two Burroughs Larder that we adore that serves up some great food.
GY: Who have you been friends with the longest and how did you meet?
KJ: My friend David and I went to high school and college together. We were in theatre together though we didn’t become friends till we hit college. We have circled up every few years since college. We have had adventures in New Orleans, Washington D.C., and Sullivans Island. I lurv him. He has a much better memory of high school than I do and always amuses me with embarrassing stories of our youth (mostly of my youth.)
GY: What yoga teacher has most influenced your practice and teaching?
KJ: SO many teachers have played a role in my development but I have to say that Sarah Powers and her system of Insight Yoga really gave me the courage to let go of the fitness model of yoga, which I was frankly becoming bored with. Her way of teaching helped me to be more courageous in my own practice and teaching in order to explore stillness and silence. If I could name a second teacher, I would say Ida Rolf. She is the founder of Rolfing Structural Integration and her influence has been passed down through the teachers at the Rolf Institute where I studied to become a Rolfer.
GY: Can you name three traits you cherish most in this teacher?
KJ: I think they both have similar qualities I cherish.
Fierce intelligence, creative license, and formidable focus….they also both espouse the value of studentship, which isn’t something that we in the west have much patience for.
GY: What do you love most about your home space?
KJ: I practice wherever my mat will fit in my house on any given day…my space shifts depending on the location of my toddler and partner. My studio, however, is the most peaceful place I have ever had the pleasure to practice in. There are so many elements present in the space. The natural light is glorious, the bamboo floors are inviting, and the Buddha at the front of the room reminds me of my true nature. AND the truth is that I don’t really care much about any of that…when I practice I turn inward and the space that matters to me is my inner landscape.
GY: What was the last thing you binge watched on Netflix?
KJ: Didn’t everyone watch Orange is the New Black?
GY: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
KJ: Stop me if you’ve heard this one,
“Row, row, row your boat
gently down the stream,
merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream”.
Most recently my son reminded me of that universal wisdom.