Kim Knowles – Consultant, Startup Founder and Yogi

Hi, I’m Kim Knowles and I’m currently living in Dublin, Ireland. I work freelance as a consultant and my work is very varied. It involves providing consultancy on a diverse range of areas from website design to digital marketing strategies in various industries such as retail, charities, utilities, etc.

At the moment I am working on a transformation program for an energy company. I guess what led me to working freelance now and wanting to have such varied experiences is my experience running a startup.

I was the Co-Founder of a startup and I did that across Dublin, London and New York for five years. It finished up about a year and a half ago and brought me back to Ireland again. It was an amazing adventure; exceptionally hard work but hugely exciting.

After running a startup I suppose you think, where do I go from here? One thing you learn as you chart through all your different career experiences is that you pick up so many skills that you don’t even recognise in yourself. I wanted to keep that varied career path going on, which took me into working freelance.

Outside of work, I love to practice yoga. I try to have a daily practice, sometimes things happen but I certainly try to do it every day. I started it probably three or four years ago for two reasons mainly; firstly as a way to decompress after work and the stress of work; I just felt like I wasn’t taking any time out to be still and be quiet and chill out.

Secondly, I was watching an elderly person trying to bend down to pick something up one day and I just thought, I need to keep my body flexible and healthy to be able to touch my toes when I’m 60 or 70.

In a way I’ve always been building towards doing Yoga, I danced as a kid and kept that going into my 20s and then I got into Pilates for a few years, but that was mainly just for exercise. Yoga is almost like a combination of dance and Pilates plus so much else; I think they laid the foundation for my interest in it.

I started with a 4 week course to see what it was all about. After that I dropped off for a while and would return to it occasionally for about 2 years, wasn’t a regular thing for me initially but then the more and more I got into it, I really enjoyed it.

It’s kind of one of those things that gets addictive because you can chart your progress. Every week you can go a little bit further and a little bit deeper into poses and you can really see yourself improving and you just feel so much stronger. I know it’s a cliché but you do start to feel good from the inside out.

My journey with yoga has been a bit of a struggle to date, because I would naturally push myself very hard, and yoga isn’t supposed to be about that, it’s about doing as much as you can on the day. So up to now, I wouldn’t really have practiced at home, I’ve just gone to classes where I am pushing myself as hard as I can and doing as much as I can, but I’ve recently started yoga teacher training, I’m 5 months in and that’s really brought it home to me to make yoga part of your daily life more than making it this goal.

The reason I started this course was to understand more about something I’m so passionate about. I would be in a class and I would want to understand what was happening with some of my muscles and joints as part of that process. I wanted to understand the anatomy of it, why I could or couldn’t do something and if I couldn’t – which muscle I would need to stretch to be able to do it.

Wanting to explore more about yoga was my main reason for doing the teacher course, also the potential for having transferable skills in case I ever want to become a yoga teacher and move to Bali for a year!

For me when I started it was all about the physicality and being strong and healthy, but the more you move into it, you just discover so much more to it than that. We learn anatomy and physiology – I have something like 200 muscles to learn for my next test! It’s so technical, just because it’s slow doesn’t mean it can’t be dangerous – you need to know what you’re doing to make sure you can do it safely.

What has surprised me from my teacher training is that I have discovered how beneficial yoga can be for children. I have started researching this and there’s been studies in the States where yoga has been used in place of detention or other forms of discipline for children to reduce the patterns of misbehaving.

One of the first things we were asked in class was whether we were there because we wanted to be teachers or not and I have left it open as a question mark. It would be a huge lifestyle shift to go there.

For beginners, I would recommend doing a course initially because it can be a bit confusing at first. You will hear all these types of yoga – I was in a class once for 2 months without realising I was doing Ashtanga yoga, all the while wondering why I was repeating doing the same poses over and over? Ashtanga yoga involves repeating a sequence of poses with very little variation!

You could try a 4 week beginner’s course to set yourself up and learn the basics, it’s nice to establish yourself first before jumping straight into a more advanced class where the person next to you might be standing on their head…no one needs to see that on their first day!

From there I would recommend maybe going to a yoga studio for a level 1 class, something like Hatha or Vinyasa can be a bit easier than going straight into hot yoga or Ashtanga.

When I was travelling a lot and didn’t have the time to enroll in monthly classes in new areas, I would follow classes on Youtube – in particular I loved Yoga with Adrienne when I was starting out and even now sometimes.

Her videos last from 10mins to an hour and are themed around your emotional state or how you feel physically. For example, if you’re tired you can use one that is really restorative, or if you are going for a run you can do one to stretch afterwards, if you’ve been travelling and have been cramped up in an airplane, her practices are great to stretch out.

Yes, I am that yoga nut in downward dog down back of an airplane!

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