To De La Sol Yoga owner Katie McClelland, yoga is a life raft.
After years of struggling with depression and addiction, yoga has been Katie’s salvation. Katie had a 13-year addiction to crystal meth but was teaching yoga for part of it. She lived a paradoxical lifestyle, but admits that yoga had won. “Even in the darkest moments, my practice has kept me afloat,” she says.
In 2007, De La Sol Yoga was born. Her mom co-owned a yoga studio in Burlington where Katie started teaching and developed a strong student base. She was thirty and had five years of sobriety in her pocket. Her mom convinced her to stay and start her own studio instead of moving to San Diego like she wanted. “Funny thing is instead of feeling restrained, I’ve actually never felt freer. Now I think it’s amusing when people define themselves as free-spirited because I feel like if they just plant root somewhere they might actually be happier.”
What has Katie learned from this wonderful experience so far? “At first, I struggled with keeping jobs. I was unreliable and flaky. A big part of success is just showing up for life. If you make a commitment to be there, just be there. You never know what could happen.” At De La Sol studio in Hamilton, we sat down with Katie for some yoga pointers (and important life lessons from a strong, beautiful woman).
What’s the difference between hot yoga and non-hot yoga?
The main difference between the two is that hot yoga really helps a lot of stiff people. The heat helps movements become more accessible. We use infrared heating in our studio since I learned that it is what’s being used among athletes to reduce injuries.
For people hesitant about trying hot yoga, what advice can you offer them?
A studio environment can be intimating. Everybody is worried about how they look. I suggest going with a friend and know that everyone is so wrapped up in what they’re doing and they don’t really care if you can’t do some of the moves.
Yoga is a non-competitive practice. It’s not about the external appearance, it’s about what is going on internally. Yoga is about meeting yourself right in the moment. It’s a practice of curiosity and exploration. There is no such thing as bad and good poses. I’ve seen some really flexible dancers, for instance, but they’re not breathing. There picking their nail polish. They’re not focused. The poses are a tool to get to know yourself. Getting strong and flexible are by-products, not the goal.
What are 5 must-haves for first time visitors?
A sense of humour, an open mind, stretchy clothes that don’t restrict breathing, yoga mat, and towel. To avoid slipping, damp your towel and put it over your yoga mat. Keep hydrated. Coconut water is a great solution. A light snack 2 hours before is also recommended.