DANCE RAVER . TRUTH SEEKER . TOOTHBRUSH HATER . YOGI
Name: CHARLIE KELLY
Hometown: LONDON, ENGLAND
Current town: LONDON, ENGLAND
Yoga practice style: JIVAMUKTI
What's your story? I'm a born and bred Londoner but went to nine different schools (some boarding schools) growing up. I came back to London fully when I was 15 to pursue mind expansion, but at that time the only way I knew how was through chemicals (some natural and others not so much). I was involved in the underground dance and psyche-trance scene. Eventually (as you might expect) it got out of hand and I decided life would be better if I gave up drinking and using.
Thus began my more sustainable enlightenment process. I had a huge awakening. I moved to Australia where I introduced yoga into my life. I had no idea what it was about other than that it had a spiritual side to it that I was keen to know more about. As a tall stiff man and a bit of a gym junkie at the time I found that some of the poses were not that easy for me, but all my teachers kept telling me that it didn’t matter if I could reach my toes or touch the floor, it was more about the experience. That was something I could relate to!
From those few classes on, I've never looked back. I gave up a very promising career, got deep into yoga and made it my full time job and life.
What is Black and Light Yoga? After doing my training with Davidji and Sharron Gannon at Jivamukti, I set up Black and Light Yoga (BLY), combining my two big influences in my life: yoga and full-power raving. I call the style Jiva Love. Having never really moved away from dancing, it was the perfect balance of everything important to me. After a surprising uptake with BLY, it has gotten bigger and bigger; we’re now packing out rooms of 100 yogi/dancers, and it’s very special for me to see.
My intention is to bring more diverse music to the yoga world, to give yogis the opportunity to rave in a space that they can feel at peace, and ravers the opportunity to come for great music and also have the chance to try some yoga in a non-committal, non-judgmental, non-exposing environment.
What’s it like being a guy who does yoga, and a guy who teaches? I love the practice and I love teaching. I love telling people that are new to my class that I can’t touch my toes, and then watching the worry lift from their faces - especially the guys.
Yoga just rocks. It’s a place where I can come and sit, stand, twist, bend (kind of), and breathe into my life situations. There is also a wicked, beautiful, loving and inspiring community that I just love being involved with.
What is one fact that most other people wouldn’t know about you? I am a trained hypnotherapist. And I don’t really like brushing my teeth.
If you could do it all again, what would you change? I would not have cared as much at school. I allowed the social pressures to achieve weigh too heavily on me in my youth.
What is your personal mantra? Om gam ganapataye namaha. This bad boy removes any obstacles in life, in the mind, and spirit -- anything standing between you and a higher and more connected experience.
Interviewed: November 6th, 2014
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA LLC