Kia Miller On Inspiration And The Sattva Summit In Rishikesh India This November
Cover Photo by Fluid Frame Photography
By Ashley Shires
Kia Miller is a devoted and talented Yogini who teaches a unique blend of Asthanga/Vinyasa Flow, as well as Kundlini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. She is featured on the line-up at the Sattva Summit in Rishikesh, India, November 7-13, 2017, along with luminaries including Anand Mehrotra, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Tommy Rosen, Tracee Stanley and Yashoda Devi Ma. I was thrilled to interview her in advance of the Summit about her passion for yoga and her love of Rishikesh.
You have such a unique, creative teaching style. We would love to hear how your style evolved.
I was mentoring with Annie Carpenter at Yoga Works in the late 1990’s, one of the greatest gifts in my life, and she encouraged me to consider incorporating the subtle body energy I was learning in Kundalini in my classes. There was another teacher at the time who also loved both styles, Ashtanga and Kundalini, and we jokingly called it Ashtangalini. That was what I was practicing and it was naturally what I started to teach. I would teach the Ashtanga standing poses and move into a Kundalini kriya. It really helped to work as a bridge to get people into Kundalini.
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.
We’re excited that you’ll be teaching at the Sattva Summit this November. When did you first visit Rishikesh?
I first visited in 1999; I was in India for four months, but I kept going quickly back to Rishikesh – I had a deep spiritual experience there. I’ve always felt that it was my spiritual home. When I first arrived, I was hanging out with some sadhus from different yogic sects. One of them spoke English, and we were chatting. He said, “Come see my ashram,” which was just a tree north of Rishikesh. So there we were, hanging out under this tree, with a little fire. They were gathering to go north, waiting for the snow to melt. They had plans to travel to peaks in the Himalayas, the traditional thing for yogis to do. While I was there, we would go on little treks in the nearby mountains. We went to a cave where a German woman, Yamuna Ma, had been living for nine years. I was working as a documentary filmmaker, and I interviewed her and another woman living as a sadhu for 23 years. I was immersed in this yogic experience – It was fascinating.
What did you learn from the sadhus?
Yamuna Ma had a dream about being in a cave in India – she knew her destiny was different from other people’s. She walked an extraordinary distance to gather water and do a ceremony a daily basis. We sat opposite one another and she had a shawl and she pulled it over her head. And I was like, “Oh, okay, we’re going to meditate.” TWO hours later she came out of it – meanwhile, I had never sat still for that long in my life (laughing). That was my introduction to meditation.
Can you tell us a little about the teachers at the Sattva Summit?
This year is the first summit, and Anand Mehrota is one of my favorite people on the planet. He is a spectacular teacher – so wise, and the place that he has created, the Sattva Retreat Center, is exquisite, perfect for immersive experiences. This will be a very special gathering. It is really like a hand-picked gathering of yogis – those of us who are teaching are inviting certain people that we know will resonate with the experience. And people’s souls who should be there will be drawn there.
What is the vision for the Summit?
This is not a festival where you go to try different styles of yoga; this is a summit where you go to immerse yourself in your own practice, surrounded by others doing the same, so we can collectively lift ourselves up and bring that energy back to our communities. These kinds of gatherings are so important at this time, that we go into deep sadhana, deep practice, together.
The intention behind this summit is more of a different kind of experience – it’s going to be like living in a modern day ashram for a week, immersed in the lifestyle of yoga, with fellow practitioners. There will be classes and kirtan and satsang, but it will have the energy of an ashram. And I think that is what is missing for so many of us in the West; we have a self-initiated practice, but we want to be around master teachers so that our whole experience is elevated to another level.
So that we’re not feeling so alone in these challenging times…
Exactly. I just feel like this is our time as yogis to step it up. In my experience, the way we do this is to take ourselves out of the matrix of our daily lives and invest in our spiritual connection for periods of time.