An Interview With Kia Miller, Featured Presenter At The Telluride Yoga Festival, July 20-23, 2017
Cover Photo by Fluid Frame Photography
By Ashley Shires
Kia Miller is a talented yoga instructor whose style pulls from multiple yogic disciplines. She is certified in the Ashtanga/Vinyasa flow tradition as well as Kundlini yoga, and she leads teacher trainings and retreats all over the world. SF Yoga Magazine was thrilled to catch up with her in advance of her workshops at the Telluride Yoga Festival, July 20 – 23, 2017.
You have a fascinating background, growing up in the Falkland Islands and moving to Great Britain as a teen. When did you first discover yoga?
When I was 15, I had a book on beauty by Raquel Welch, and she included the Bikram sequence in it. She was an idol back then, and I thought if it was good enough for her, it’s good enough for me (laughing). It was impactful for me. A couple of years later, I moved to London, and I started to practice at the Life Centre in Kensington with Godfrey Devereux. He’s in the tantric lineage, but it was very Ashtanga-like when I studied with him. It was my first introduction to yoga classes.
Were you working as a model at the time?
I was modeling, and yoga was perfect because I was traveling so much, and it gave me an opportunity to connect with myself and my body.
Did working as a model make you feel disconnected from your body?
I just was disconnected from my body. I wasn’t very grounded in myself or even secure in myself. I was used to being judged from the exterior and relying on that; I didn’t have a very deep connection with myself. I was quite disassociated – yoga helped me to become more at home in my body, to learn to breathe properly – I used to hold my breath a lot.
How did you discover Kundalini yoga?
In 1997, I had been living in Los Angeles for a year, practicing yoga at Yoga Works, in Santa Monica, primarily. But this friend of mine was a very successful super model and she was going to Kundalini. She was so inspiring that I wanted to do what she was doing (laughing), and I went with her to a class with Guru Singh.
I found Kundalini so intimidating at first. What was your first impression?
Weird – so weird (laughing) – Guru Singh was so far out. I had never experienced anything like that. I didn’t know what to think of it or him. I liked him, but I would leave the class and think, “Ok, now I have to go work out.” It’s not an Ashtanga class, that’s for sure.
It’s definitely not Ashtanga! What kept you coming back?
Curiosity – and then I went a couple of Gurmukh’s classes and I enjoyed that. It was also a social thing; she would have people back to her house and feed everybody. And then I was in class one day and Guru Singh did a naval kriya and something shifted for me – I felt such an impact – there was a moment mid-class where my mind was silent and I had that experience of myself. From that moment I was hooked – I got it. I suddenly got it. I had that experience of my own presence and power and it was amazing.
Did you continue to model at that time?
I stopped modeling in 1999 and started to work in documentary film and reality t.v. It was such fun, creative work. But you know, my first love was always yoga. I would teach yoga to the crew when we were on shoot, and finally, I realized as much as I loved the people I was working with, I just wanted to hang out with people who wanted to talk about yoga. I was living briefly in Marin, and a friend and yoga teacher, John Berlinsky, said to me that when life got in the way of yoga, I made yoga my life. Later, I was on a plane coming back from holiday, and the person in the seat in front of me was talking about teaching yoga, and I felt so envious, and I realized in that envy that teaching yoga was really what I wanted to do.
What is your hope and intention with your teaching?
My intention is always to connect people to their own souls, their own heart. If I can in some way be a conduit or process that helps people make that connection, that is my prayer.
What do you love about teaching at festivals?
I love the receptivity of students at festivals. I think people really go with an open mind to try something new, and I love to turn people on to a practice like Kundalini that they might not have experienced, at least not in the form that I teach it, before. Because people go with an attitude of, “I’ll try something new here,” you connect with them on a different level.
We’re looking forward to seeing you at the Telluride Yoga Festival this summer!
Telluride has been a bucket list place for me – there’s something about the word itself, and I heard about the hot springs and nature and the music festivals. So many things have pointed to Telluride being this destination place to visit, and I’m really excited to go there. And then I’ve been hearing about the yoga festival for some years – I’m so excited to be a part of it.