High Vibrations: An Interview with Kelly Mahoney

A quote on your Instagram feed (@kelbellmac) says, "Decide what kind of life you actually WANT. Then say 'no' to everything that isn't that." Is that the intention that created space for yoga in your life? Give us a brief background on your journey and how you landed in San Diego.

Yes! I found yoga during a time in my life where I was ready to address a need for deep healing.  For many years, I dabbled in different asana practices and healing modalities. And, for those many years, I was just scratching the surface— forever intrigued with what I knew, innately, to be true. Still, I spent the majority of my days, weeks, months and years fully engaged in a lifestyle that was not conducive to healing my mind, body or spirit. I was trying to say 'yes' to both. Balancing the toxicity of my environments and relationships with the practices that I knew to be essential for a thriving, wholehearted existence.  It took nearly a decade of that exhausting dance before I decided on the kind of life I actually wanted and started saying 'no' to everything that did not align. It involved a move from NYC to San Diego, a shift from a high stress job to pursuing a life's work and all of the ancillary shedding that happens around those things. Some days it's still hard and scary to shed those comfortable, familiar things that don't serve my wholeness but it's the worthiest cause there is.

You teach Lotus Flow vinyasa. For anyone who hasn't attended your classes yet, what is the experience like?

Lotus Flow is a chakra based vinyasa that moves the body with the breath— attentive to healing and energizing the subtle body as the practice progresses from root to crown.  I thread Dharma themes through the sequence to provide focus for the practice and to encourage self-study on and off the mat.  I teach from my own practice and my inspiration always comes back to the way the breath moves the body, the way the body clears the mind and, in that moment, all that's left is heart. My intention for every class is to hold space for people to turn inward, connecting through the strength of heart that's in us all.  

Kelly Mahoney MacDonald

Your harmonium accompanies you in your classes. When did you start playing? How does chanting and/or mantra enhance your practice and teaching?

It really began at the time I started studying Ayurveda four years ago. The "sister science" of yoga is ancient, relevant and altogether life-changing.  It is the science that tells us we are made of vibration. If we are made of vibration, than vibrating from a literal and an intentional place is the most natural and powerful thing we can do.  It led me to start a daily mantra practice and while chanting continued to deeply transform my life, it remained a very private part of my practice. Fear of what people would think, a dislike for the sound of my voice, the reasons are endless... but for years, it felt too vulnerable to share.  

The harmonium is my baby!  It came much later and is still very new to me! I started playing five months ago. Originally, just for the purposes of hearing my own voice vibrate in an honest and powerful way. I was at a point where I could barely decipher what my voice sounded like. I spent an entire lifetime layering the priorities, opinions and truths of other people over my own.  My father- in- law, the resident musician of our family, heard I was interested in learning to play the harmonium to accompany my mantra practice. One day, shortly after moving to San Diego, it showed up on my doorstep. It was, without a doubt the most special gift I've ever received. It became such an integral part of my personal practice.  I knew that if I was going to teach from an authentic place, raising the vibration to a palpable space was essential. 

Ayurvedic themes are weaved throughout your sequences. What was the initial draw to Ayurveda and how have you incorporated it into your lifestyle?

Ayurveda teaches us to address our health as whole beings rather than the fragmented way in which we like to approach our physiological, psychological and spiritual well-being. It's a tri-pod: Mind. Body. Spirit. Imbalance in one segment leaves the whole system at risk of toxins, stagnation and disease. Balance of the three creates harmony and health.  

Toxins and disease enter the body through a multitude of portals other than simple changes in the weather, "unhealthy" foods and daycare germs. We collect them through stressful jobs and class schedules that we don't take time away from. Spending time thinking or speaking ill of others. Detachment from loved ones by way of divorce, trauma and loss. Ayurveda tells us that the mind cannot easily process these and the heart cannot easily digest them. These toxins of the heart and mind manifest via depression, anxiety, anger, etc., which eventually manifest physically. Ayurveda helps us to identify where and how we are going out of balance or suffering stagnation. Its offerings are sustainable solutions to nourish the body, mind and spirit.  

The greatest gift I've received from incorporating Ayurvedic practices into my mental, physical and spiritual health, is the understanding that what is 'good' or 'bad' for someone else has little to do with what is beneficial to my well-being. We require different means of nourishment and to know that is to show up for myself and for those I love in  more insightful and compassionate ways. 

For anyone interested in attending your upcoming Ayurveda Foundations workshop, what can we expect? 

As humans, we are comprised of the same vibrations that shift the seasons— the elements of earth, fire, water and air. We simply have varying ratios of the same elements. This makes each one of us connected yet wildly unique with different gifts, challenges and recipes for an optimally balanced, healthy life. My upcoming workshop will provide an overview of the Ayurvedic seasons. We will learn about the universal doshas that we all share and seek to understand our individual metabolic constitutions. We will explore ways to bring ourselves into balance through appropriate lifestyle choices like food, exercise, essential oils and health habits customized for your specific constitution.

Kelly is teaching Ayurveda Foundations, Thursday, February 28, 2019 from 7:00 pm  8:30 pm. For more info hit the jump!

About Kelly

Kelly completed her 200hr teacher training simply in effort to find more balance (i.e. to create space for something other than her high stress corporate America gig). She got way more than she bargained for- more joy, more peace and a desire to share this journey of transformation with others. Kelly teaches Lotus Flow which is a chakra based vinyasa that moves the body with the breath- attentive to healing and energizing the subtle body as the practice progresses from root to crown. Music that sparks the soul is her jam. Dharma themes threaded through the sequence provides focus for the practice and encourages self study on and off the mat. She lives for the way the breath moves the body, the way the body clears the mind and in that moment, all that's left is heart. Her goal is to hold space for her students to turn inward and connect through the strength of heart that's in us all.

Interview by Taina Berardi