Yoga Love – An interview with Karlie Bell

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I’m thrilled to introduce you to Karlie.  Her passion for yoga shines through, I love her honesty and reminder that yoga is not all about the physical, that we can still practice even when we can’t get to class or spend time practicing on the mat, through embracing the other facets of yoga that often get forgotten.  She reminds us to embrace life’s natural ebb and flow.  Enjoy!

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1. Tell us a little about yourself

I was born and raised in a small country town in a fairly traditional family. I was very involved in sport and successful on the sporting field but not a confident person. I practiced gymnastics as a young child but withdrew when it started becoming competitive as I felt very nervous. I first experienced yoga in my upper secondary years, at the age of 15. I left my hometown and moved to the capital city of our state to study occupational therapy and developed the travel bug. I was lucky to complete my degree in and amongst many overseas trips and then spent the next few years working and travelling. After the birth of our second child I felt very drawn to return to my home town, to be closer to my family, the ocean and the simple life.


2. Everyone who has ended up on a yoga mat raising their arms in their first sun salutation has a story of what led them there. What’s yours?

I can’t remember what got me to that first yoga class at the age of 15 but I remember it being a hot summer’s night and just falling in love with the feeling of the stretch. It was a far cry to the competitive nature of the netball court, although it has been a long road to try and quiet the competitive nature of my mind – the inner critic. I continued to practice yoga throughout my senior schooling and on and off during my tertiary studies. During a gap year at university I was lucky enough to volunteer at the Omega Institute in New York State and in my final year of study I undertook a placement at a hospital in Hyderabad, Southern India. There I met a yoga teacher and ended up going to stay at his ashram for about a month after my placement. I returned to the ashram over the following couple of years. I also studied under an Iyengar teacher in New Zealand, on a remote off-grid island.


3. What keeps you returning to your yoga mat?

With two young children I tend to look longingly at my yoga mat and even more wistfully at the timetable of the local yoga school. My yoga practice nowadays is more about how to remain calm amidst the chaos and busyness of everyday life. Now my kids get the yoga mat out when they want to dance and the yoga block gets used for all sorts of things, including ballet moves and for access to items that are supposed to be out of reach.


4. How has your yoga practice filtered through to your every day life?

I have always been one to question things and deep introspection has been both a gift and a curse to me over the years. There are many times that I have felt lost and bereft of purpose. Motherhood in many ways has been my strongest anchor and has grounded me in a way I had never previously experienced, and I am very grateful to my children for that. After years of wanderlust, time on the yoga mat and soul searching through books I made a very conscious decision to throw it all away and stop ‘trying’ to grow. I was lucky enough to find an occupational therapy job that I loved – I worked with a small group of wise, strong, loving women and I had a lot of flexibility in the way that I functioned. Since then my yoga practice on the mat has been rather dismal but my attitude to daily life has been more balanced and on reflection I see myself living more closely to the yamas and niyamas than I ever have before. I feel very privileged that my paid employment helps improve a person’s life. Hopefully over the next few years some balance will come back in and I will get back to my mat more often.


5. What is your favorite yoga pose, breathing practice or mantra?

I can never resist a good pigeon pose. Oh to sink so deep. My soul just craves it.


6. What advice do you have for those just starting out on their yoga journey?

Take it slowly and don’t underestimate the impact it will have on you – on how you view yourself, your relationships, your aims in life. It changes you on a cellular level. Yoga is incredibly broad. It’s understandings relate to your every cell and breath, and at the same time to the workings of the Universe.


7. How has your yoga practice evolved over time?

I have become less critical of myself and my body. I no longer seek straight lines and perfection in my poses. My yoga practice now happens so much more off the mat than on it.


8. What are you loving right now?

I feel inspired by Angela Farmer and her understanding of feminine energy. I am feeling very drawn to learn more about the Divine Feminine. I am also loving listening to Sona Jobarteh, a female West African Kora player. Her music is so beautiful, so filled with raw power. There is one song ‘Jarabi’ that I am of the understanding means ‘To be given space to shine whilst being cared for with love’ and I feel so strongly that all women are deserving of this, and wouldn’t the world be a different place if we did all have this support. I am lucky enough to receive it from my husband.


9. How do you nurture yourself?

Beautiful music is always good. Sharing my concerns and fears with my husband is a way of enacting self-love that I have never done before. Time in the sunshine. Time cuddling my kids. Allowing myself to be creative.


10.What wisdom has your yoga practice revealed to you that you’d like to share with us?

I am not sure if it is my yoga practice or time that has revealed this to me, but I strongly feel that a life of service is a life well lived. Also that true abundance is to be able to give from a place of feeling as though we have already received so much. And that kindness – a smile, words of reassurance, believing in somebody, giving somebody the benefit of the doubt etc etc, is truly the way to inner peace and contentment.

Thank you Karlie for sharing your love for yoga with us all.

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My love of yoga has spanned twenty years, and seen me travel the world and experience a broad range of lifestyles. After practicing gymnastics as a child including watching television in shoulder stand and doing backbends on the beach, the physical yoga postures were the initial drawcard. Then over time the moral guidelines and gentle disciplines of the tree of yoga have unfolded within my daily life. Yoga has taught me to be honest with myself and has helped me learn to love the person I am.

My practice of yoga began with the wise and compassionate Patsy Lindschau and I immediately loved the precision in the postures, and the feeling of peace I found in being guided through the stretching and strengthening.

From teaching one to one sessions to Bollywood actresses in India, to milking a goat, trading firewood for classes and teaching headstands on a remote island off the coast of New Zealand, to zooming around the Eyre Peninsula with a carful of bolsters, yoga has been my friend and guide. From breathing and stretching my way through two pregnancies and births, learning about being a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend, yoga has helped me see the truth in things, even if it hurts.

My work as an occupational therapist has helped me develop a respect for the beauty in ageing and the benefits of nurturing the body and mind throughout life, as well as gratitude for my health. It is the practice of moving into stillness and quiet, with compassion and love for oneself, that gives yoga its ability to transform a person. And no amount of learning will ever be enough. Year after year another layer of the onion is peeled.

I am honoured to be a part of the Port Lincoln School of Yoga, and my hope is that it offers people a place of safety and support as they travel along their roads of learning.

Karlie has almost completed Pre and Post Natal Yoga Teacher Training through the IYTA. She hopes to enrol in the IYTA Foundation Course. Karlie has two young children and works part time as a private occupational therapist and as a relief teacher with the Port Lincoln School of Yoga.

Here is how you can connect with Karlie:


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