Keith Allen has studied with different teachers, lineages, and styles from all over the world, and remains a passionate and dedicated student of yoga and meditation. You’ll also find him on YogaDownload.com, one of the yoga world’s big online innovators
What’s the one thing you’d like OM readers to know about you?
There are two things that have influenced my life in tremendous ways. The first one is yoga. Yoga has brought about positive changes in all areas of my life — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and this is why I’m passionate about sharing it with others. The second biggest inspiration in my life has been travel. I have lived on three continents (North America, Australia, and Asia) and learn many life lessons from each place I visit. And I’ve been fortunate enough to combine both passions of travel and teaching yoga all over the world for the past 10 years. I believe if you can dream it, you can live it, and you can carve your own path, no matter how unconventional it might be. Daydreaming and using your imagination to your advantage can be your biggest allies in creating a life you love.
How would you describe your teaching style?
Meditative, mindful, challenging, and technical. Expect a strong emphasis on the breath, plenty of time to hold poses, and precise technical instruction. I do my best to find a balance between effort and ease and remind students to enjoy the yoga instead of thinking of it as a chore. Sometimes when we’re trying too hard, we miss the point. My classes gradually build in intensity, so students feel worked and open without it ever feeling abrupt. Taking your time and going inwards are key components of how I like to practice and teach. We live in an interesting time where I feel many people care more about marketing their crafts than mastering them (although there is nothing wrong with doing both). I do my best to let my craft and classes speak for themselves, and the this usually means the right students and opportunities to share yoga are drawn to me.
What first inspired you to get into yoga?
I went on my first extended trip overseas to Tanzania when I was 19, and a housemate from Toronto taught a class to some of the roommates. I immediately loved it. Then, when I returned back to the States, I went to my first public class in a studio, and lying in a puddle of sweat in Savasana I found myself more relaxed than I’d ever been. I was hooked, and knew yoga was going to be a big part of my life forever. In that moment, a part of me knew that I was also going to teach this practice.
What does yoga mean to you personally?
Yoga is a reset button for me. If I fall into feelings of stress or lethargy, getting back on to my mat brings me back to a place of power and centredness every single time. I notice when I’m practicing, I feel more confident and can also navigate the ups and downs of life with more grace.
Yoga also gives me a deep sense of gratitude for my body and health.
Every single one of our bodies will break down and stop working at some point, no matter how tough that truth is to accept.
So when I’m on my mat and moving my body, the miracle of being alive right here and now is something I don’t take for granted.
How have you navigated the past year of lockdowns?
It’s been a journey! What has worked for me, and the best advice I can give to others, is to go with the flow as best you can instead of fighting the change. If we believe everything is working toward our advantage, things will always work out. When the pandemic first hit I was living and teaching in Thailand, and in March, when things really intensified, I came back to the States. I’ve gone from living as a nomad for the past three or more years, to eventually nesting up in an apartment in New York as 2020 came to an end. As unexpected and unplanned as it was, for me it feels right.
The pandemic gave me a forced breather from leading 200-hour teacher trainings in Asia (I led nine trainings and taught over 130 new teachers from 29 countries, in the past three years), and now that I’ve settled back in New York, I realise this was definitely necessary. I’ve become re-inspired as a student and teacher, and now have time to slow down and remember why I fell in love with yoga in the first place.
Any good life hacks for the rest of us during these unsettled times?
Meditate every day. You don’t have to do it for a long time, even just a few minutes can make a difference, and it’s worth making this a habit. The second life hack I recommend would be to delete social media for a month or more at a time, at least once per year. I know this might sound radical in 2021, but I challenge you to try. Then, notice if your anxiety levels and comparison tendencies towards other people lessen, while your level of presence and quality of life and relationships increase.
Keith Allen regularly leads workshops and teacher trainings and is a co-author of The Yoga Fix book, which is a resource of healthy movement patterns.
Practice with him at The Yoga Download at: yogadownload.com/keith-allen
Explore The Yoga Download on Instagram @yogadownload
Quick Q & A
Favourite yoga book?
You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
Favourite yoga quote?
Do your practice, and all is coming.
Go-to health drink?
If you had to take a yoga class, as a student, with any teacher ever, from any time or place, who would it be with and why?
Matt Kapinus in Boulder, Colorado, USA. He’s a master of making yoga feel fun, while still challenging you. I’d also love to take a Hot Yoga class anywhere with anyone at this point (missing this so much during the pandemic)!
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.