Interview | Going Off The Mat with Kerri Kelly
Hey Kerri! Tell us about Off The Mat, Into The World's plans in 2011; we know you have some great stuff boiling.
Off the Mat, Into the World is a non-profit program committed to bridging yoga and activism. We believe in the power of yoga to transform individuals, communities and the world. The most exciting part for me has been in witnessing what happens when this yoga community comes together for change. We tested this theory in 2009 with the Global Seva Challenge Cambodia by challenging yogis to become leaders in mobilizing their communities around important humanitarian issues. Well they did. In our first year, our collective efforts raised over $500,000!!! Since then, we've raised almost 2 million for local and global initiatives through collaboration and action. This year, we're rallying the community around Haiti to provide support and sustainable solutions for the people of Haiti.
You're an athlete turned yogiâ€¦what inspired you to make that shift?
I've been a runner and athlete all my life. I turned to yoga in the 90s to put my body back together. What I didn't expect is that it would take my life apartâ€¦in all the right ways. At first, I discovered a new way of being in my body, one that was more balanced and receptive. But as I got deeper into my practice, the yoga became something more â€“ a resource, an outlet, a friend. After 9/11, it was my greatest healer. To this day, my practice and my life continues to grow and shiftâ€¦and I just keep breathing and going with it.
You're known as the Director of Possibility at OTM...what does that mean?
My personal purpose is to invest in the greatness of all beings...to support them in discovering their greatest potential. My role at Off the Mat, Into the World is similar - to support and elevate the impact the community and organization has on the world. I do everything from business development to community building to leadership coaching. I get really inspired by the intersection between yoga, innovation and service and the ways in which we are getting more effective, more impactful in our work as a community. I feel privileged to be a part of this organization and can't wait to embrace the possibilities ahead.
What is your favorite yoga pose?
It's always changing depending on where I am in my life...but in this moment, I am loving parivrtta janu sirsasana. My practice and path is full of twists and turns and so I am consistently craving grounding poses. Finding a steady moment in a dynamic lifestyle keeps me committed and clear.
What is the most compromising/precarious (interesting) place you've ever done yoga?
Hmmm...this has certainly been an adventurous year of yoga. However, I'd have to say that the most magical place was in the middle of Timbavarti Wildlife Preserve in South Africa. There's something amazing about moving and breathing in a wild, natural environment...while an elephant walks by.
Incredible! To wrap things up, what is one thing that we (and everyone else) don't know about you?
I'm pretty transparent about my life so there is not much mystery there...but I'm sure it would surprise people that I'm a scared-y cat about extreme sports (despite my enthusiastic personality, I will not be enthusiastically jumping out of a plane anytime soon).