Spotlight on … Kristi Johnson

by Kristi Johnson

When did you first start to practice yoga?

I first practiced yoga when I was about 18 years old. It was in a church hall in Hamilton, New Zealand. I don’t remember much about it, except for that the teacher was really old, the rain was crashing down on the corrugated iron roof, and that I woke up from Savasana to the sound of everyone Om-ing, and sitting upright. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t return to another class until I was about 21.

Why did you first take up yoga?

I was working for an NGO, taking care of youth in a respite home. A young girl that I was supporting was struggling with anorexia and anxiety so I suggested we join a Sivanada yoga class once a week as an activity to bond with one another, and to calm her anxiety. It worked a treat and encouraged my curiosity of the practice.

What does yoga mean to you?

Yoga is everything to me. It is my life, my sanity, my perspective, my passion, and my chosen career path. It is through yoga that I feel comfortable connecting, communicating, and expressing myself daily. Yoga has been the foundation of my journey for so many years now, and every day yoga teaches me patience, awareness, compassion, gratitude, and trust. It keeps me clear and focused, and highlights the beauty that surrounds me everyday.

Do you meditate?

I find sitting and meditating very challenging, I have a lot of energy to burn and I just love being physical. I did a 10 day Vipassana meditation about 10 years ago and it had a profound effect on me, I loved it. My understanding of meditation is that it’s about creating stillness in mind, hightened awareness, and sensitivity to subtle feelings, bringing clarity and groundedness. With that, I consider myself in meditation when I’m riding my bike through a park, hiking towards a peak, swimming in the ocean, or simply spending hours at home in complete silence.

What’s the secret of cultivating a daily yoga practice?

Structure. Forrest Yoga has a very structured warm up sequence starting with Pranayama, Seated poses, core work and inversions, and it is from my Forrest Yoga training that I am able to find the disapline to get on my mat. That’s the most difficult part, just getting on the mat in the first place. Once you’ve done the warm up, it feels so good that you just want to keep exploring the practice, moving deeper and before you know it, an hour or so has passed by.

What practice do you do every day?

I practice Forrest Yoga every day. Even on a super busy day, I will at least make time for a warm up of Pranayama, neck release, core work and inversions. It just feels so good in my body and it grounds me in my teaching and daily interactions. It also sets me up for practicing other styles with other teachers, which I love to do a couple of times a week just to mix it up.

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?

Oooh, if I could change one thing in the world, that would be to offer ALL girls and women in EVERY country complete freedom. Freedom to feel, freedom to choose, and freedom to live, work, and dress in a way that inspires them.

Tell us a secret.

I like to impersonate cat noises and secretly wish I was a cat.

Kristi will be teaching her ‘Embodying Stillness: Forrest Yoga’ workshop at Red Hot Yoga on Sat 12th November 2016. Book now!

Read the full interview on Movement for Modern Life here.

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