Anna Kichenside is a thirty-something yogini from London and the creator of the Flamingo Yoga Maya clothing brand. Here, she tells OM that life’s all about finding your ‘why’… and vanilla cheesecake!
How did you first get into yoga?
I got into yoga because of my back. I have scoliosis and wanted to learn to look after my back as I entered into my early thirties.
What inspired you in those early days?
I loved witnessing the progression of my yoga practice and cherished how it was something special just for me and my mat.
What does yoga give you personally?
Strength and confidence. When doing my yoga teacher training, we did a lot of work on our life’s purpose (our ‘why’), and from that moment on my ‘why’ was to be ‘strong and confident – on and off the mat’. Strength and confidence in those tricky asanas like arm balances and inversions; finding the strength physically and the confidence mentally.
Strength and confidence also off the mat, when life throws everything at you but the kitchen sink! And through connecting to my ‘why’, along with my breath, I find my calm. I absolutely love it, and can feel the difference when I don’t practice.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I teach in a very friendly and relaxed way, asking my students to find their own ‘why’ through their yoga practice.
I love the balance both Vinyasa and Yin give the body and mind, which is what I love to share with my students. As long as we are laughing on the mat together, then all is good!
Yoga career highs so far?
Becoming good friends with some of my students. You couldn’t ask for anything more than that
What are your plans going forward?
I’m launching yoga clothing — Flamingo Yoga Maya — with stretch towelling built-in to wipe away sweat while you workout. I fell out of crow pose once during a hot yoga class and injured my shoulder because I didn’t wipe the sweat from the back of my arm. I had forgotten to bring my towel. It was when I fell and hurt myself that I had the idea of designing a capsule range of yoga tops with built-in towelling, so you don’t have to worry about bringing a towel again – it’s already designed as part of the top!
What else are you up to?
I’m teaching only private 1:1 classes right now, giving the student more transformational work and a stronger yoga practice without them having to share my attention with other students in the class. Later this year, I’m launching an online transformational course, focusing on all the tools we have in our yoga tool kit to help with everyday life.
What do you do when you’re not doing yoga?
Apart from teaching yoga, I design shoes, which I love. Splitting my time between my two passions – yoga and design – is the perfect balance for me. Other than that, I eat….a lot!
Any tips for students new to yoga?
Don’t just go to one yoga class, try it, and say it’s not for you. There are many different types of yoga and many different ways teachers teach – you’ll find the right style of yoga and the right teacher for you to connect with. Enjoy shopping around! When I first tried Yin yoga, I thought it was soooo boring – I didn’t find it challenging enough. Now I absolutely love it.
What do you say to people who feel they’re too inflexible or too old for yoga?
That’s why we come to yoga, right? Seriously though, as we watch our parents get older and older, it’s not about the ‘marathon you’re training for’ or the ‘gymnastics you wish you could do’ or any of the other ‘cool stuff’ we see on social media. As we get older, we just want to get off the sofa or bend down to put our socks on without falling over and groaning!
Any tips for incorporating yoga into ordinary life?
This is one of my biggest passions within my personal yoga journey, of which I love to teach. The physical yoga practice is easy! It’s the mental philosophy side of yoga that’s hard – the stuff we can’t see and copy! So it is all these other tools within our yoga toolkit (breath-work, practicing non-attachment, non-judgement, forgiveness, connecting to your ‘why’), which helps us in our everyday lives. Use your breath as a reset button whenever you get knocked off your centre. Connect to your ‘why’ as a driving force to get you out of bed in the morning. Your two best friends: your breath and your ‘why’.
Any advice for new yoga teachers just starting out?
Don’t wait for the perfect teaching job to come up – go out and start teaching and practice straight away! Learn what you like and don’t like. And when you get nervous, connect to your breath and all those nerves simply melt away.
Anna Kichenside from Flamingo Yoga Maya (flamingo-yoga-maya.co.uk) teaches private 1:1 classes, with a first taster class free, and would like to offer OM readers 25% off her clothing with the code: FPL-OM25. Find her on Instagram @flamingoyogamaya
Q: Favourite yoga book?
A: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. I re-read it whenever I feel I need a little yoga philosophy nurturing!
Q: Favourite go-to health food?
A: Does vanilla cheesecake count?
Q: Most inspiring quote or motto?
A: “Yoga is the science of the mind” — from the above book. The moment I read that my mind was blown!’
Q: Favourite yoga pose?
A: Double pigeon — it feels like total bliss!
Q: If you could take a class as a student with any teacher from anywhere and from any period of time (now or in the distant past) who would it be with and why?
A: Any yoga teacher or Tibetan monk will do: we all learn from one another. Well-known teachers are not better teachers just because they are ‘famous’.