Following on from a long period of lockdown, and consequently a period of being limited in the ways that we could physically and mentally maintain ourselves, Yoga has become the norm for a huge number of people across the world. Fire & Flourish is a brand new yoga brand set up by our resident yoga instructor Kayleigh Flannery. After travelling to Rishikesh in India last summer, Kayleigh was awarded her 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training Certification and is now fully qualified to teach a range of styles. Kayleigh has since poured her implacable enthusiasm into our BabyStep Does Yoga Events, and her own face-to-face and online classes. We wanted to have a chat with her and find about more about her new brand, and how yoga can be beneficial for people in a wide variety of ways.
For people who haven't heard of your brand, what’s Fire & Flourish all about?
Fire & Flourish is the name I’ve given to my new yoga teaching brand, but I’m hoping it will develop into something much more than that. Having a lot more time on my hands after finishing uni, I wanted to put my energy into creating a platform that would grow along with me. At the moment, I am offering group yoga classes online as well as 1 on 1 private classes. If anyone lives in the Headingley/Hyde Park area of Leeds, I will also be teaching some outdoor group classes so please get in touch if you are interested!
However, it’s not all about the classes. Throughout my study and practice of yoga, I have realised that in the West, yoga is privilege, not a lifestyle. Classes and equipment are expensive, teachers often teach to a group of people who look like them (usually thin, white, able-bodied women) and the people who could benefit the most from yoga are the ones with no access to it. So I hope to increase the accessibility and inclusivity of the practice by offering different perspectives, debunking myths about yoga and encouraging a holistic, individual approach to the practice.
How did you first get into yoga, and how has it come to benefit you?
Many people approach yoga with the physical benefits in mind, and gradually come to appreciate the mental, spiritual and energetic benefits too. For me, yoga was one of the many things I tried to improve my mental health. The emphasis on the breath and being present, using movement as a vehicle to the more subtle emotional and energetic shifts; all of this helped me to face my own issues head on and work through them, feeling everything, letting the emotions work their course and then letting them go. This is what the name Fire & Flourish represents. The fire is the passion, the determination to persevere and burn through anything that I’m clinging on to that I no longer need (this includes physical tension, emotional and energetic blockages). Feeling the discomfort and working through struggles in this way leaves us with more space to breathe, more room for the positive things in life that we want to manifest.
What led you to using your love of yoga to create a brand?
Since yogis and gurus began to bring yoga and meditation to the West in the late 19th century, there’s been a discourse developing around yoga as a means of financial gain. Many people believe that yoga should not be monetised, and teachers should not benefit financially from offering their teaching. That may have worked in the past, but things have changed. Hundreds of years ago, devoted gurus and students of yoga were able to live a life devoid of money, relying on the kindness and mutual understanding of their community to provide them with food and necessities. As much as I would love to teach for free, I doubt that the people of Leeds will feed me if I turn up at their door unannounced.
I guess that mini history lesson is my way of justifying my “yoga brand”. We need to interact with the practice in a different way in order to benefit from the yogic lifestyle (this, along with the Western obsession with fitness and body image, is why there is more emphasis on the physical aspects now than in the past). Especially now, when COVID-19 has forced the world online, and the yoga and wellness industry has had to adapt along with it. Now more than ever, people need access to resources and classes in their own homes that teach how to practice a yogic lifestyle that fits in with this new world. I hope that Fire & Flourish can contribute to this and show how accessible and approachable this ancient practice really is.
Tell us about your class schedule, and the different types of classes on offer.
At the moment I’m starting with 2 classes a week over Zoom (which is free to download and means we can see and talk to each other!), on Wednesday evenings at 6pm. The other class may change but I will post timetable updates on my Facebook and Instagram pages each week. The Wednesday class is a bit more dynamic, starting with sun salutations and then moving through a sequence that will have a different focus each week. Beginners are encouraged to try, as I give lots of options and modifications to ensure that everyone can practice in a way that is safe for them. The other class will be more chill, a bit slower and more meditative. It’s great to try different styles and types of class because there are so many differences in different schools of yoga! When I gain more regular students I am also hoping to teach some classes of varying styles.
To someone who has never done yoga before, how could getting involved help them?
People’s experiences with yoga differ so much, but I think in the most general terms, yoga teaches us about ourselves and our place in the world. It asks us to pay attention to the now, and recognise that we are all connected. And, if you don’t care about any of that stuff, but enjoy the feeling of flowing through some poses on the mat, that’s fine too! Just as long as we respect the roots of where yoga came from, we can take from it what we need.