Kia Miller: The Kundalini Queen
As regular readers will know yoga is firmly grounded in my middle years life - most especially Kundalini yoga (see here for more) and frankly, the older I am growing the more these powerful kriyas (or exercises) resonate - and YES I am hooked!
So I was naturally very excited to interview Los Angeles-based Kia Miller, one of the world’s most celebrated Kundalini teachers, founder of Radiant Body Yoga and my go-to kundalini teacher on the online platform Yogaglo (sadly practice in person and on the mat is not an option!). Miller leads workshops, retreats and teacher trainings in the US and India and her classes are a deep and dynamic mix of movement, breath, meditation and chanting.
Miller's Journey to Kundalini
Born in the Falkland Islands, Miller first discovered yoga as an inquisitive 15-year-old browsing a leg-warmer-clad Raquel Welch in her beauty and fitness book (yes, I remember her too!). Her enduring love affair with the practice began when she was 18 and had just moved to London. "Working as a model the industry looked at me from the outside so I felt completely removed from who I am on the inside. Kundalini changed this by tuning me into a level of authenticity and empowerment that I certainly didn’t have before then. In retrospect, part of this was probably youth, but yoga helped me be in my body and learn who I was from the inside out.”
A brief stint in India followed, working on a documentary on the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala and spending four months filming women on the path of yoga - along the way meeting her future husband and fellow yogi Tommy Rosen.
Ashtanga yoga teacher Don Berlinsky once told Miller that ‘when life gets in the way of yoga, make yoga your life’ – a comment that still resonates deeply. “Back then it was the understanding that I wanted to delve deeply into yoga to teach it but now this phrase holds a far deeper meaning as I know that you don’t have to be a teacher to be living yoga – it’s more about living in a state of balance and union in yourself, your relationships and in the greater world. I have come to that balance now.”
Her life now is a mix of weeks teaching on the road, peppered with rest and quiet with her husband in their Californian mountain home. “When at home I revert back to my Ashtanga days but in a fun way, playing with the sequences and bizarrely I can do more physically now (at 49) than ever before [which alone speaks volumes as Ashtanga is incredibly demanding on the body on a physical level]. It feels effortless to me now and complements my Kundalini and meditation practices.”
Miller believes that we are living in a rich and exciting time as yoga is a household word and even the subtler practices and powerful breath work are coming centre stage. Kundalini as taught by Yogi Bajan (as opposed to other variants on offer) is on the rise and is meeting the modern practitioner where they most need it. Yogi Bajan taught through the 1970s and 1980s but Miller is adamant that he always knew he was teaching for today’s world. “He was before his time but people are really getting it now as there is a genius to the kriyas (or sequences). I see a massive shift of emotions happening in my classes – further proof of the impact of the powerful combination of dynamic movement, breath work and mantras that cuts through the craziness people are experiencing.
Miller’s refrain is simple: “Let’s not coast along the surface of life - let’s get present and let’s be willing to face the uncomfortable parts of our lives. We have to do the work - it’s not all joy and bliss - the real work is looking at where we are living unconsciously and we must be willing to have this awkward conversation with ourselves, rather than sweep it under carpet. If we are to herald in an era of peace and compassion we have to start it ourselves, so stoke that inner fire and have the strength to face life’s challenges with grace, and in doing so inspire others. Lets fall in love with the experience of being alive – let’s find that self essence, that dharma that Kundalini drops us into so quickly.” And for me - this says it all and is reason enough to further pursue my own path.
Finding your teacher
Finding the right teacher is key to developing a love of yoga (regardless of the type) and if practising with Kia Miller online in your home is not for you, there are other Kundalini yoga teachers. See my review of Kundalini with Gemma Billington at Jaima Space in Co Kerry here. Gemma also teaches at her home in Berkshire. I-SKY, the UK-based International School of Kundalini Yoga is the resources for Kundalini. In Dublin, Jai Kartar Kaur is highly experienced and teaches at Samadhi and Little Bird Cafe, amongst other studios. at check out Remember, if a teacher or class doesn't resonate with you - move on to another.
Photo credit: DJ Pierce