Kyle Miller found yoga at 15 years old, when she casually started taking classes in Santa Monica, California—her hometown. The practice quickly became her primary outlet for stress and also a favorite workout, leading her to explore the teachings later in New York City. In 2007, Miller traveled to India to study privately with an esteemed yoga teacher and, upon returning to New York two months later, started a private teaching practice.
Continuing her studies, Miller completed a Jivamukti teacher training and an 800-hour apprenticeship. She now teaches at Yoga Vida, leading their three yearly teacher training courses and their destination retreats around the world. Her simple intention: help students feel good. Her yoga classes are uplifting, challenging and transformative, a practical, modern interpretation of the ancient wisdom.
Here, Kyle dishes on how to avoid the spiritual pitfalls of today’s materialistic society and practice a yogic lifestyle:
Live The Process: What first drew you to yoga?
Kyle Miller: I was first drawn to yoga exclusively for the physical benefits. I went to my first class at Steve Ross' Maha Yoga when I was fifteen to simply work out. Only later, when I moved to New York and began practicing at Jivamukti, did I learn all about the philosophy behind the physical practice I loved.
LTP: Can the distractions of this modern, chaotic world interrupt your chosen alternative way of life? How do you work to avoid them?
KM: When I returned from India, my mind and body were so purified, so inspired by my teacher who I observed truly living yoga in every moment, I was a little overwhelmed. I used to feel that my beliefs, values and ethics—all based on the yoga sutras—put me at odds with the bulk of society, but I can feel a shift happening. People have realized that materialism can never provide the lasting happiness we all want. Everyone wants tools, philosophies and practices that help them feel more connected to each other, to themselves and to the natural world. Yoga provides this.
When the hustle and bustle of the city draws me into the illusion of glamour and things, all I have to do is light a candle and express some gratitude or take a class with one of my favorite teachers, and my agitation fades. Plus, I think being social is an opportunity to put all of this yoga stuff into practice. I like being part of the world!
LTP: What tips would you offer people who aspire to practice yoga as a lifestyle and philosophy, as opposed to simply a workout?
KM: If you want to deepen your knowledge of yoga and delve into the philosophy, find a teacher! There are so many wise, beautiful teachers who have been studying and practicing for many years. Sit before them. Take class with them. And definitely read The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. I love the translation by the founder of Integral Yoga, Swami Satchitananda. It's so easy and practical.
Also, read the Bhagavad Gita, India's most practical handbook on how to live a yogic life. I love Stephen Mitchell's translation.
Most importantly: If you want to live yoga, be kind to others. It really is that simple. Embody the yogic principles and ideals. Uplift others with your thoughts, words and actions and you are living yoga.
LTP: In the past, you have alluded to having to “drag” yourself to class when you first began to practice. How did you transform your mindset so that yoga became a lifestyle as opposed to a chore?
KM: Once I accepted yoga as a regular practice and part of my life, it took all of the pressure off. There was no need to perform or achieve something in any one class because I knew that I would be coming back to the mat the next day and the next day. I've let go of the whole judging each practice thing. Some days the body feels light and flexible; some days it feels like wet cement. Who cares? I remind myself that practicing yoga is a blessing and a gift, and I'm able to get over any resistance I might be feeling in the moment. I'm very forgiving of myself. Sometimes skipping practice to be there for someone else is really doing yoga.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
KM: Happiness is simplicity: looking at the moon and appreciating its beauty, connecting with a friend in a real way, cleaning my apartment, making dinner from beautiful ingredients, taking Nevine's Pranayama class at Katonah Yoga. These things make me feel happy.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process" and how do you do that every day?
KM: Living the process to me means embodying my beliefs. I do this by trying to be a kind presence in the world. But, trust me, I'm no angel. I falter and fall off. My friends are always reminding me, "Hey, listen to your own teachings!" when I'm being judgmental or bratty.