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Yoga With Kylie interview: Battling anxiety and depression from the age of 20

Tell us about Yoga with Kylie.

The brand logo, design and website came about in 2016. I had been using @yogawithkylie as my Instagram handle for a few years and I had reached the point where I needed a website and way of promoting all of my events and offerings that was easily recognisable (a bit like my hairdo. Lol). I wanted something that would appeal to all, not just yogis, as I wanted to be able to reach those that were maybe afraid of yoga. I wanted it to be about connection, alignment, accessibility, community and fun as this is what I try to create when I teach. The logo is a representation of connection, alignment and nexus (energy centres in the body). My mission is to create workshops, classes and privates that are accessible to all, have a strong foundation in anatomy and alignment, are creative, fun and informative. To encourage people towards a healthier way of being, mentally, physically and spiritually.
Yoga with Kylie, yoga, handstand

Kylie Harris (Yoga With Kylie) by Anna Kidman

What motivates you to practice yoga?

– What motivates me to practice is how it makes me feel, mentally, physically and spiritually. I have battled with depression and anxiety since the age of 20 and it was really Yoga that saved me. Prior to that I would often not see the point in living and fall into some pretty dark spaces. I practice everyday and yoga for me is more than what I do on my mat. I try to make the 8 limbs part of my life. I practice asana, pranayama and meditation before the classes I teach first thing in the morning which means getting out of bed 4-4.3am most days. On the mornings I am not teaching I practice at home in my private studio. If I am on holiday I will practice in the hotel room before my husband awakes. Its my way of clearing my mind, connecting to my breath. Its my #kylietime to start the day. And funnily enough its never an effort. I love getting on my mat when the world is still sleeping spending time meditating on the breath and then slowly moving the body. In the evenings I will spend some time either in meditation or pranayama to unwind from the day or rolling on my myofascial balls. I also have been known to sneak into an empty office at work (I have an office job too) for a bit of yoga nidra, gentle asana or meditation if I’m feeling wound up or to just break out into handstand in the hallways. Basically I will practice everywhere and anywhere. I try to bring mindfulness into everything I do, try to treat all beings with compassion and respect, and constantly bring my awareness back to the present moment and my breath.

 

Yoga literally saved me. From the ages of 20 to 30 I had a really rough time. I didn’t really know who I was, what I wanted or where I was going. My self esteem took a battering from a controlling and manipulative relationship that also led me to an eating disorder – the only thing in my life I felt I could control. I tried to run from NZ to escape but that escape led me down the path of drugs and alcohol to find any sense of happiness. Around this time I also went through an abortion that was horrific and I had no support. I did not tell my family, my partner was unsupportive, I was in a foreign country and just felt completely alone. Upon my return to NZ I relied more and more on drugs and alcohol to escape the thoughts in my head. I secretly was hoping to OD and never wake up. I just wanted out. My Dr prescribed me anti-depressants as I was constantly balling in her office and just after I began taking them my fiancé dumped me. I was crushed, I hit rock bottom, didn’t eat or sleep much, drank to numb the pain. Depressive episodes in my life always were accompanied by waking really early or not sleeping at all. My mind a whirlpool that sucked me deeper into the depression. It wasn’t till I found yoga that I was able to still this whirlpool, to get back in touch with me and what actually made me feel good. It actually made me want to start living instead of constantly dreaming of dying.

 

The yoga studio near me had just started doing 6.30am classes. I had been practising the night time and weekend classes but was usually too hungover or recovering from a big weekend to want to get out of bed before 7am. I had actually been dabbling with yoga for about 4 years prior to this because I new it made me feel good but was not sure why. I started going along, as I was up so I thought why not do something constructive rather than waking my flatmates up. Through going along in the morning I started to set myself up for the day. I felt better, I was more connected to my body and how I felt and so started to fuel my body better with food. After about 2 months of this I went cold turkey (part of a new years resolution) and realised how much I had been using the drugs and alcohol to escape. I also started connecting to the other early rises. I began to feel a sense of community and whilst I did not know why, the yoga kept me sane and helped me get through each day. I looked forward to each day and making it to my mat seeing my yoga buddies. It cleared my head, stopped me feeling anxious, helped me deal with what was happening and be more present. As my yoga practice deepened I started to study and read more about it. I wanted to understand why it made me feel great and how I could share this with others. I waited until I had a solid practice before embarking on teacher training as I wanted to know I could continue to practice on my own, that I had something to share, and that I knew enough about it to pass this on to others. The birthday I just celebrated was really one of the first times in my life I was celebrating being alive. Celebrating what I have accomplished, celebrating the wonderful people in my life. I have spent many birthdays feeling triggered into feelings of self loathing, failure and just wanting to escape life. I now cherish this body and life i have. I actually can’t believe how many times I came close to ending it.

 

Yoga helped build up my self esteem, give me the strength to follow my heart and intuition. To not put up with being treated like shit. It helped me love myself. When I had my first depressive episode at 20 the counselor told me to do affirmations looking in the mirror. Saying I love myself 10 times. I scoffed at her and said why would I do that when I don’t even like myself. Now part of my meditation practice is daily affirmations, trying to train myself to remain in the positive. And it is a daily practice. When I feel myself slipping into anxious thoughts or depression again I take more time to sit quietly and work on my mindset.
Interestingly when I first began yoga I hated savasana as I could not stay still. Too much going on in my head. Its taking me a long time to like meditation for the same reason. Now I love the stillness and quiet. I’ve fallen in love with Float tanks. 1 hour of sensory deprivation, floating and meditation. BLISS

What would you tell someone who wants to try yoga for the first time?

– Yoga is for everyone. It’s not just for the fit and flexible. It’s for anyone and everyone. It’s about connecting to your breath, your body and this moment. It’s about being compassionate to yourself and to others. It’s about connection, community and awareness. You are never too old to start and you can do it anywhere and everywhere. (Just like Dr Seuss Green Eggs and Ham 😉

What have you got on offer?

– I have loads coming up so I am glad you asked. Oct 13th – 14th I will be in Wellington running 3 workshops:
  1. Handstand Vinyasa – a fun class to help you bring handstands into your flow.
  2. Spring Cleanse Flow – NEW workshop of mine dealing with the liver, gallbladder (TCM) and vagal tone. A slow meditative flow to unlock and unblock the body and the mind. Help you set intentions for the year ahead and release the things that hold you back.
  3. Melt the Tension from your Upper Body – Postural habits, anxiety and stress increase the tension through the shoulders and neck. This workshop combines trigger point therapy, myofascial release and stability work to help melt tension and bring awareness to your posture and breathing. Book at Empower
October 29th -NEW WORKSHOP – Myofascial Movement and Meditation. I’m teaming up with Andy Munro from Empower Studio to co teach a 4 hour workshop focusing on unlocking your movement potential. Combination of mediation, trigger point therapy, movement along the fascial lines, primal movement and restorative to leave you feeling restored, repaired and re-energised. Book at Om Yoga Studio
November – Myofascial release at The Yoga Corner (Date TBC) Book at Yoga Corner
Plus Online classes with me. Every week a new practice from myofascial release to handstand vinyasa and everything in between. yogawithkylie.co.nz or Namastream App

 

If you had to choose your last meal, what would it be?

– Wow that is one tough question. Something with avocado, mushrooms, pumpkin, haloumi and spicy (not sure if you can put all of that in one dish ha ha). Plus some dark chocolate to finish. Or Raglan Coconut yoghurt the blackberry or the tumeric mango one. I am in love with that at the moment. In fact if its my last meal hell give me a whole jar of that. Yeah baby!
Yoga with Kylie, yoga, handstand

Kylie Harris (Yoga With Kylie) by Anna Kidman

Kylie Harris about Courage My Love Clothing

I like to stand out from the crowd with my choice of yoga leggings.  I seldom wear plain colours, and Courage My Love tights definitely stand out from the norm.
I love to support NZ talent and business and I feel honoured to be wearing NZ made and designed leggings.  I love that they are designed by artists and that each piece is so different.
They are super comfortable to wear and they dry really quick which is great when I teach in heated studios or have a more intense practice.
With the amount of time I spend in leggings and washing leggings, I need them to be robust and not require too much special care.  Courage my Love is great as I can just throw it in the wash and know its not going to run or pill or lose shape.
They are also great for photographing as the colours and designs are so bold.
Absolutely love them.

2 Comments

  1. Alicia says:

    Wow! Respect xx

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