Nikita Ramchandani, Kita Yoga

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I first met Nikita back in London in 2018 when she dropped in on one of my yoga classes.

 

It was at the height of my studio career and I was putting in about 15/20 hours a week teaching. Some students just stick out, often for no particular reason at all, however, I felt drawn towards her practice. Maybe it was intuition, maybe it was energy, perhaps I could sense that she too was a teacher.

I don't really recall our first conversation but I do remember distinctly feeling like it wasn't our first conversation, like we'd been old friends for a while. This pattern continued every time she came to class, we'd sometimes sit afterward and disclose secrets with this understanding that our shared space was safe.

We'd probably be great friends if we lived in the same city, however, as we're both drifters at heart, we tend to bounce around from place to place. I imagine it's this similarity that keeps us drawn to and inspired by one another.

Nikita is the founder of Kita Yoga, a community-focused lifestyle brand and creative network, celebrating wellness, culture, and design.

We're delighted to have her as our Guest Teacher this month.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in India but grew up between Guayaquil, Ecuador and Hong Kong. I moved to London when I was 17 to study Economics, and then to New York at 21 to pursue a masters in Mathematics. I truly love the ocean, cultures, traditions and stories; a random mix of things haha. Wine and coffee are true contributors to my life, that and the people I love.  In 2016, I left my role as a Quantitative Strategist and blindly hopped on a flight to Hong Kong to start my own Yoga studio.

What are some of your biggest motivations?

To be able to add value to people's lives in some way,

Inspirations

People + places. Nature, art, architecture, the sheer resilience, and ambition possessed by some.

How might someone describe you 

Ambitious + kind + sometimes reckless

What brings you ease?

Music + solo hikes + the water + training + family

Describe your first yoga class 

My first ever yoga class was forced upon me in high school. I liked to move fast, and at this first encounter, I felt no affinity for Yoga. I then stumbled across yoga again while at grad school in New York. I started to become more aware of myself, my body, my feeling state and it truly shifted the idea of what yoga is to me.

 

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How did you start Kita?

I knew I wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial venture and had fallen in love with Yoga and movement in general. I wanted to build a community, a space for teachers and students to find what yoga meant for them. I left my career in finance, hopped back on a plane to Hong Kong, and signed a lease within three days. Our purpose at Kita is to share experiences and ideas that evoke emotion and conversations that matter. We’re weaving together a family of people who see the importance of connecting to ourselves, to each other, and something bigger.

What's next for you / what creative projects you are working on 

I feel like we are constantly growing and evolving as we get to know our people, incorporating what we find into our offering. We are set to launch our sport line this summer, a collection of elevated essentials for everyday leisure.  All-natural fabrics. Breathable, timeless, everyday pieces. We are also working on a new experiential wellness space to include a mixture of movement + coffee + retail and showcase our partners within the community.

What you have learned this year (about yourself) 

Too many things. When everything slows down you are pushed to sit with yourself and be introspective. I have learned to better question why it is that I do what I do, whether it is truly guided by internal ambition. Moreover, there has been a shift in what garners importance in my life. I have learned that I tend to make things more complicated than they are, that I thrive under pressure, moving slowly for me is uncomfortable and that I find ambiguity very disconcerting yet liberating. Yet I have also found that I look at all situations with optimism and look for solutions when I feel lost.

Why do you practice?

To feel free. These days I feel like my practice is so personal; I close my eyes and just allow myself to get a little lost - in the music, in my own breath. I practice to feel good, clear, and soft yet strong. Everyday is different, and you uncover something new; a nuance you may have missed or a newfound skill.

James Dowler, Breathe with James

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"The style of Breathwork that I have developed is really a creative expression of my dharma."

I'm having a difficult day. It's hard to pin why, but I feel on the verge of tears, anxious, and with a to-do list that feels like it might swallow me whole. Part of me wants it to. As a facilitator of mindful practices, I know I have the tools to combat these sensations. I hold space for people as a living. However, today I know what I need is to be held. So I tune into a breathwork session with James Dowler, founder of Breathe with James. 5 minutes later I feel relieved.

James is an incredible healer. His sessions have the power to transport you to another realm, all in a short frame of time. His teachings remind you that you have everything you need within to feel at ease. He is a breath of fresh air on a difficult day.

James' portfolio speaks for himself. He has had an incredible roster of clients and been featured in some noteworthy publications, including a recent appearance on BBC Radio 1. Despite his success, he manages to stay very humble, welcoming, and real.

James teaches exclusively online through his online studio Breathe with James, and we are so thrilled to have him as our Guest Teacher this month, so that we can share a snippet of his remarkable teachings with you

Describe your journey into healing through breathwork.

Between the ages of 17-21, I suffered badly from chronic fatigue and chronic pain.

So much so that I was bed bound for a year. I saw a variety of specialists to no avail. It was then that I discovered meditation. With the help of some books, I built a daily practice of meditation and mindfulness and after six months, all of my symptoms were gone. It opened me up to the power of the mind and left me fascinated and utterly drawn to learn more. During this time, I graduated from Bristol University and then went on to become Strategist at a Creative Agency in London. However, having experienced first hand the power of meditation and being increasingly fascinated by the power of the mind, I decided to leave my job and take some time to develop my meditation practice.

During this period, I spent time on a meditation retreat in Wales, a Buddhist Monastery in the South of France and doing a Foundation in Psychotherapy & Counselling. It was then that I discovered the power of Breathwork. I stumbled into a Conscious Connected Breathing workshop thinking that I was going to a meditation workshop and in my first session knew I had found the tool that I was here to share. Gripped, I began a journey of exploration into the breath using it to recondition my mind and heal my body.It was revolutionary, beautiful and ultimately revealing. Now, I spend my time teaching people to harness the power of their breath to alleviate emotional issues, improve their physical health and connect them to a deeper, more spiritual part of themselves. I love what I do and I feel unbelievably lucky to be doing it. 

How might someone describe you?

Hmm. I think that depends on the person and how they perceive me. Broadly speaking though I think in my light people might describe me as ambitious, driven, curious and open. In my shadow possibly a little obsessive, compulsive and at times overly introverted.

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How are Breathwork and Creativity intertwined?

For me they are completely intertwined. The style of Breathwork that I have developed is really a creative expression of my dharma. As I grow and come more into alignment with that the Breathwork that I teach is simply a creative expression of that.

What is one word you’ve been coming back to lately?

Patience. I have a tendency to want things to happen quickly and want them all to happen now. I try and remind myself to let go into the natural unfolding of things whilst maintaining a framework of discipline that allows that to happen in the first place.

Have the shifts of this last year changed you/ your practice?

Hugely. Before lockdown I had never taught online. My practice works very well online and it has been amazing to be able to reach so many people all over the world and see so many people benefiting from the power of the breath. My intention is to keep all of my work online for the time being which I never thought would have been the case when I first started teaching.

What brings you ease?

Spending time in nature - ideally with my feet on the earth and the sun against my skin.

Why do you practice?

To become the greatest possible expression of myself. I want to show up completely and to move into a place of self-excellence where I know I am living in accordance with my highest potential.

You can find more of James' sessions on his online studio, Breathe with James. His membership includes a 7-day trial.

Mai Izumitani, Yoga Teacher and Ceramicist

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My practice was sporadic until I realised that the more I went back, the more it evolved into a place of self-exploration and here I am now, still learning so many things about myself.

Mai has an effortlessly cool air about her. The kind of cool that isn’t forged and can’t be emulated. A quiet confidence that inspires those around her, and I’m not even sure she realises she has it.

A ceramicist and Yoga Teacher based in London, Mai applies a deeply minimalistic approach to everything she does as homage to her Japanese background and upbringing. Her brand MAIZU combines yoga and ceramics to channel the essence of mindful living – a concept she naturally displays in all things, and with ease.

We are very happy to have her as a Guest Teacher and to sit down and get to know her a little bit better.

Describe your first yoga class.

I had just come home to London after a few years abroad in Poland. I was miserable and moody, just like most pubescent teens so I joined a local gym in hopes of befriending a treadmill because running and watching the gym TV on mute seemed pretty easy. I was wrong. I lasted about 10 minutes before walking off and resorted to signing up for a group yoga class instead - at least this way I could be held accountable by the other people in class. As we moved through the class, I leaned into my flexibility (my lanky arms helped a lot)  but looking back now, I was so disconnected with my own body and breath. Who knew breathing could have so many layers?

My practice was sporadic until I realised that the more I went back, the more it evolved into a place of self-exploration and here I am now, still learning so many things about myself.

How might someone describe you?

Some would say I am equal parts calm and creative.

What have you learned about yourself this year?

Looking back, I’ve learned that my resilience is what has carried me through this rough rollercoaster of a year.

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What is a word or mantra that you’ve been coming back to lately?

Rest.

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Is there anything you are currently learning or unlearning at the moment?


I am trying to unlearn what success means; that success isn’t based on financial stability nor the size of your house but in fact, it can simply be what you need it to be. Currently, success for me is allowing myself to rest, building deeper connections with people and saying no to things that don’t allow me space to grow as a better human.

What brings you ease?

Making ceramics brings me ease, hands deep into clay. Entering a flow state when I’m throwing on the wheel. And of course my cat, she’s been my sidekick since 1999.

Why do you practice?

Every time I flow on the mat, I come home to myself and find myself leaving the mat feeling more united with myself.

What’s next for you, or what does your vision board look like?

I would love for my two practices in yoga and ceramics to intertwine into a synergy of creative freedom for others to experience and channel the essence of mindful living.

Rachael, Reset Yoga Hub

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Our love affair with Rachael, founder of Reset Yoga Club, started like any 21st-century romance.

It started with a few back and forth likes, playing it cool, nothing too desperate, and some subtle story comments, setting the tone for an inevitable, (but casual), slide into the DMs. We were immediately drawn to her cool aesthetic, soft in its expression, always seeming to play with light and once you get to know Rachael, everything about her online presence makes total sense.

She had us hooked from our first chat:

“my classes are laid back, quite strong and a few swear words” “I’m like Billy Connoly, a big haired rascal on the mat”.

She had us at swear words because, frankly, all the best teachers are unapologetically true to themselves, and Rachael is as real as it gets.

We’re pleased to write that our relationship has now evolved to text, that’s to say we have Rachael on speed dial and find ourselves often laughing in response to something she’s shared. So, we were very excited to have her as our Guest Teacher for March and to sit down and get to know her a little bit better:

Describe your first Yoga Class:

My first physical yoga class.... oh hell, I was traumatized. I was in a hotel in Chennai, India where I was working for a worldwide airline. I thought I was booked into a relaxing meditation session, however, it turned out to be a very Advanced Power Vinyasa class. I got my ass kicked in a Kaphalibati infused Revolved Bound Bird of Paradise flow... I thought it was some sort of sick joke.

I had no idea what yoga really was until that class. It made me find grit in my spine that I never knew I had, or needed. I cried and laughed from start to finish. I was so jet-lagged yet intrigued at what I was doing with my body. The teacher was of similar age, really cool, blasted the most insane playlist, swore, and assisted me into poses like magic. I was hooked.

What’s a word or mantra you’ve been coming back to lately?

Evolve, evolve, evolve.

What have you learned about yourself this year?

This year, my life has definitely shifted. I was given the gift of freedom to throw myself into my creative cave and launch my vision for RESET Yoga Hub. I was allowed to truly relax into my being and tune into the humble shades of how I want to guide yoga and its tools. I can feel my intuition and my gut pulling me further into this tradition as if it's living in my bones. 'Yoga' doesn't just stop with the asanas, but it's a mighty fine start. I am so grateful for this practice - which has helped me write a new story in my body each week which in tow helps me be a more authentic storyteller. My roots are down and I'm ready to grow alongside my community.

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Is there anything you are currently learning or unlearning at the moment?

I'm an advocate for undoing our experiences with our bodies and stripping back what we have been taught - to begin new stories of creativity. To explore, to play, to move, to fuck up, to cry, and to share so that can we heal ourselves and the world, from the inside out. 

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 What brings you ease?

My first sip of coffee with the birds in the morning. Watching the weather change whilst I finish that first cup. Rest. My people. Late-night jazz with sizzling pans. All aspects of water, hot and cold. Watching our bellies rise and fall.

When/why do you practice?

When I lose touch with myself. When I can feel my brain trying to take over my nervous system - please tell me I'm not the only one that physically feels this? Whenever I get creative/ life/ mood blocks. To get away from the racket of opinions and the noise of distractions. So that I can hear my heart dance around.

What’s next for you?

To take the next big leap and quit my full-time job. To live more minimal, simple, and slow. By building a life with more substance and soul, I can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Favorite quote this month:

"the bravest thing you can do is be unafraid to feel."  

 

Track of Year: Deya Dova - Grandmother Tree & The Feathered Serpent.