Kelly Golden was our first hired writer on YogaBasics—way back in 2007. She has since moved on and is currently the director of Vira Bhava Yoga, leading teacher trainings and retreats in Northern California and the mountains of Western North Carolina. We thought it would be fun to catch up with Kelly and discuss where she has been and what she hopes her future will bring.
How did you find yoga?
I found yoga as a freshman in college. I had been struggling with upper back and shoulder pain enough to sit me in several doctor’s offices. The medical solution was to prescribe a bunch of pills, which I didn’t want. So I started looking for alternatives and I found Erich Schiffmann’s VHS video, Yoga Mind & Body. I started practicing everyday and felt immediate relief. I was hooked. I was fortunate to study with Erich many years later, and it was even more wonderful than the video!
If you had to describe yourself as a yoga teacher in three words, what would they be?
Challenging, practical, real.
How do you approach difficulty and challenge? What gives you strength to persevere or surrender?
My practice of yoga is truly the central force in my life. When life offers me difficulty and challenge, I try to approach these situations through the lens of my practice. I believe that we are offered all experiences as a way to grow and evolve into our highest capacity as human beings, so I literally take my struggles to my mat and my cushion. I find a lot of equilibrium and insight there that I try to take into my life. It’s a constant process, and I rarely get it right on the first or even fifth try, but I don’t stop trying.
How do you motivate yourself to continue to learn and grow as a teacher?
This is a really good question, and one that is very compelling to me right now. I’ve been practicing yoga for 22 years (over half my life) and teaching yoga for 14 years. I am definitely in a space of redefining and realigning my purpose in practice and as a teacher. I truly believe that for this practice to do its work in us and through us, we must constantly be learning. I am a continual student. I continue to study with great teachers who inspire me, who activate me, and who challenge me. I also find that the more I align with the desire to deepen my offerings as a teacher, the more the students themselves are emerging as my biggest teachers and motivation to grow.
What is something you hope to instill in new teachers? What do you find the most rewarding about running your YTT?
The most important thing I can share with new (or seasoned) yoga teachers is the power to find your voice as a teacher. In running Vira Bhava Yoga Teacher Trainings, we provide a lot of tools and instruction about what to do and when to do it, but the how to do it is completely up to the individual teachers. I love seeing yoga lovers grow in the power and skill to share their love of the practice and inspire other people to dive deeper into their own exploration.
The most rewarding aspects of running teacher trainings is that we get to elevate the conversation beyond what you have the time and ability to do in a regular yoga class. My trainings run for eight months (200-hour) to as long as a year (300-hour). This gives time and space to really explore the deeper questions that the practice of yoga inspires. I love seeing the look of inspiration and understanding in the eyes of TT students. That is the moment when you know they have something inspiring to share.
What are your future plans and dreams?
I am living my dream. I get to teach yoga teachers at all levels. I get to share all of the inspirations and insights that I’ve discovered through my practice, teaching, and study with others. People keep showing up and want to learn. What a gift! I think the next phase will be continuing to evolve and refine my current offerings, studying more, collaborating more, and who knows, maybe writing. I will leave that up to MA!