Yogini You Should Know | Kelly Morris Interview
Hey Kelly! To start off, please tell us...what is Conquering Lion yoga (for those who have not heard of the style)?
Conquering Lion reunites two ancient yoga lineages that were torn apart by centuries of war and are now mistakenly thought to be distinct, both in content and in character. Nothing could be farther from the truth. One is the Indian yoga lineage; the other, the Tibetan Buddhist yoga lineage. Not many people realize that the Buddha practiced yoga. A LOT. These two holy ideologies share the same original teachers: Asanga, Atisha, Naropa, Niguma, to name a few.â€¦
1000 years ago, as invasions and warfare ravaged India, Yogis were forced to either take their practices underground or flee over the Himalayas into Tibet. Tibet, as you know, was completely isolated for the past 900 years, and that isolation, while lethal in some regards, prevented the teachings from being corrupted. Which means you can apply them -- today -- to get your ass enlightened.
Yogis that stayed in India also made great efforts to preserve their tradition, but they wrote their sacred instructions on palms fronds, which disintegrate over time... As a result, lineages become less of a direct line to the source, and more of a game of telephone; in the end, it's impossible to know if what you're getting 1000 years later is what Master Atisha actually said.
Happily, the very same teachings were stored perfectly in Tibet, on wooden carvings that remain intact to this day. Thrilling! I created Conquering Lion to bring these sacred teachings out of the monasteries into a studio near you, so that we can use them to reach the classic goal of yoga: enlightenment in this lifetime. Why anyone would settle for less? Perhaps the dominant culprit of our time, low self-esteem, has left everyone bereft of the wherewithal to make a beeline for the highest? Many students truly believe that a calmer mind and a trimmer bottom is all they're capable of. We teach them that far greater delights are in the offing, and we give them the tools they need to get there.
Can you describe your teaching methods a little? Just for the ones out there who have not taken your class yet.
My classes have evolved over the years. At one time, they were so hard and complicated, people left the room crying. Now, given that I am an old lady of 45, I've mellowed. Students still cry, but less frequentlyâ€¦.
Does living and teaching in New York City influence your style and methods?
New Yorkers are awesome because due to their crazy, amped, over-the-top ambition and their legitimate smarts (you simply can't survive in a place like NYC without them), they're ripe for transformation. Many of them have had the smaller scale awakening, the one where you're on the stinky subway, falsely fortified by over-priced Starbucks lattes (staBUCKS is right!), on your way to the heart-deadening job, when it dawns on you that nothing you are doing means anything, is helping anyone, is making you happy. At that critical and painful juncture, one is ready to enter the path. Before that turning point, when the offerings of samsara still hold sway, little progress is possible. The person is still under the cultural impression that more money, a larger apt, a better boyfriend, more status, better weed and so on hold the keys to their happiness. The crisis hasn't happened, yet. But it will. It always does.
What is your favorite yoga pose?
Believe it or not, downward facing dog. Second runner-up is baddhakonasana. Boring, huh? I lost my taste for the yoga-as-Cirque Du Soleil-drama a while back.
Where is the most compromising/precarious place you've ever practiced yoga?
In my experience, people would rather read about meditation for an hour than actually sit for 20. That said, I have done backbends wasted in East Village bars. At the time, I thought that was very cool. Granted, it was 20 years ago, but still.... We used to go into restaurants speaking in Sanskrit to each other, meaning, one person would say one line of a mantra, and the other person would say the second line, conveying to the people around us that we actually knew Sanskrit, which of course we didn't. But its a nice way to drop a little dharma on unsuspecting patrons sucking down Patron. When I meet a new guy, I never give my last name because next thing you know, he's on my website, looking at me with my feet behind my head, going "Yeah!". You catch my drift?
I definitely catch your drift, NYC has its creepers! To cap this off, tell us one thing that we (and everyone else) don't know about you?
I am a profound introvert. Nobody believes me, but I've been tested and its true. It's all a big, fat act when I teach. I used to actually vomit before I taught my classes.
We believe you Kelly! It can be hard to speak in public. Thank you very much for your time and we look forward to seeing you at the fest!