Bad Yogi #nofilter Interview: Katie Ness
Katie Ness is basically a tour de force in the yoga world. And the art world. And the dance world. And the list goes on! She’s been a Bad Yogi Blog contributor for a bit, and because I love her posts, I was so excited to learn a bit more about her in an interview.
Katie is an artist with a background in fine art, art therapy, and dance therapy. She is also a writer, kids’ yoga teacher, belly dancer, and much more! Learn more about Katie and her beautiful perspective on life and work in the interview below and at her website.
Describe who you are and what you do in 3 sentences or less.
I’m Katie and I do many things! I am a kids yoga teacher, belly dancer, artist, poet, Reiki & Chakra balancing practitioner and Indian head massage therapist. I am very much interested in holistic education and well-being and I think fusing creativity with alternative therapies and fitness works so well in healing the whole individual. When I am not busy I like to travel, read the Tarot and make dream catchers!
You have such a variety of talents and interests. What came first in your life? How did one passion lead you to the next?
Realizing I had a talent for art came first, I was 6 years old and I remember the exact day it happened. I was at my Father’s house lying by the fire in the living room and I decided to draw my favorite orange bunny teddy holding a rainbow carrot. It was from then on, I no longer drew pictures in squiggles and had an eye for detail. Soon after that I began practicing this talent by copying Quentin Blake’s illustrations from Roald Dahl books. I just knew instantly when I was 6 that I was an artist. At the age of 13 I wrote my first poem about death being a form of eternal dreaming (deep for a pre-teen I know!) and it was also around that time I started getting into dance however my Mum couldn’t afford to send me to dance lessons so I learned by watching MTV music videos.
When I turned 15, Shakira blessed our T.V screens with her “Whenever Wherever” video and I just instantly fell in love with her, and much like the day I realized I could draw, I discovered I could naturally move my body the same way Shakira did but it wasn’t until my Mum took me to Turkey that same year and I saw Arabic dancers that I knew it was Belly Dance I was practicing and had a natural talent for. At 19 I discovered a woman named Rachel Brice who performed a new style of Belly Dance called tribal fusion and taught it with Yoga, it was at that point in my life I really wanted to follow the same path so my belly dance practice deepened and I began to learn about yoga asana, I even incorporated dance and yoga into my Fine Art degree.
From your perspective, how do therapy and art and yoga overlap?
They overlap because all three working together have the capacity to heal the mind, body and soul. I’ve seen scientific research being made on victims of trauma who go to regular therapy sessions but have also been encouraged to try creativity and yoga as well as the therapy. It has been shown to really benefit the patient and quickens the healing process. Therapy helps the individual feel safe to talk about their feelings, art helps them to soothe those feelings and yoga soothes that body-mind connection. Its all really powerful stuff and its greatly needed in a world where we are brain washed to work more, shop more, and eat more, there is no room to love more, sleep more, create more and bond with others more and we are causing a great sickness to our world on a massive scale. I am a creative activist attempting to help heal the world one paintbrush, one shimmy and one asana at a time!
Who or what inspires you?
Oh gosh where do I start? I LOVE people who spend their days working on their passion whether its crocheting teddies to being a mother to becoming a sky diving instructor and they love this passion so much you can see its a part of them and they shine like a star. I am inspired by nature in all its feral beauty, I get inspired by novels and poems I’ve read, by my dreams, places I have travelled to and different languages. I am even inspired by the bad times; times of sorrow have been where my best work has manifested. I am also inspired by love, sex and sensuality because they are the fundamentals of life and who we are.
Specific people I am inspired by are: Rachel Brice who is an incredible belly dancer, Meghan Currie who is a magical yoga teacher and I am pretty sure she is my spirit animal (hehe), Sarah Kay who is an awesome spoken word poetess, Eva Green for being a wonderfully peculiar actress and Shilo Shiv Sulemen for her beautiful art work and devotion to the community arts.
In your career and life, what’s been your greatest asset? And, if you care to share, your greatest hindrance? How did you overcome it?
My greatest asset is my capacity for love, love is my driving force that keeps me going and continues to encourage me to celebrate life.
It was only two years ago I had, I guess what you would call an emotional break down, and I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I bottled up how I felt and people would continuously make me feel unworthy and wrong to speak out so I shut down to the point where I became a wallflower and a people pleaser. It was a lonely time because nobody wanted to get to know the real me and would try to pressure me to be somebody other than myself, I nearly lost my identity. It was the love of my Grandmother that helped me through those dark times; she died when I was 5 but her love lives on in me. She was the kind of woman who embodied unconditional love so much you could almost see her angel wings in the corner of your eye. And at my core I am like her, so thinking of her throughout my pain gave me strength and now I want to love others through what I do in order to help ease their pain and show individuals they are beautiful just the way they are. I am an extremely loving person and I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am proud of that, being loving and kind are my greatest assets.
My greatest hindrance? People who are negative or pessimistic. I honestly do not understand that trait, to me it makes no sense, its a waste of energy and not only hurts others (because a pessimist can’t help but dampen someone’s day) but they also hurt themselves by living that way thus they never try, never learn, never grow…I seem to attract such individuals, they are like moths to my flame or mud to my lotus flower. These people misunderstand my gentleness for submissiveness and I literally can not vocalize what I envision for myself without such individuals telling me who I am, what I do, what I want, how I dress is wrong or weird and that I should work full time in a job I hate, settle down and have babies. Pessimists seem to fear happiness or those who chose a path less travelled? I over come the pressure of “fitting in” according to naysayers by being sassy and just being me in all my quirky glory! At 31 years old I am not afraid anymore to be wild and free spirited and if people don’t like that then it’s not my problem.
Do you ever feel self-conscious or insecure about putting yourself or your art out into the world? How do you deal with those feelings?
Yes and No…No because it comes naturally, I am like a kid who’s finished an artwork and wanting to showcase it on the fridge for all to see. I just like to share in the hope to inspire others there is more to life than for example spending your free time shopping for things you don’t need, why be a mindless zombie when you can be mindfully creative? With my dancing it’s a bit of both feelings of self-consciousness and confidence. I actually have an alter ego (like Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce) so leading up to a performance I’m excited, a few minutes before I go on stage I become shy, disorientated and overwhelmed but this needs to happen so my alter ego can step forward. My alter ego is quite sultry and has been likened to a mermaid and many people have said after my performance “That wasn’t the Katie I knew up there, that was a totally different energy.” Any feelings of insecurity I have are dealt with via yoga, meditation, singing (badly) or watching funny dog videos on YouTube!
What is your personal measure of success?
Success to me is freedom to be myself; it is knowing nobody has power over you so go do those things that make you happy! To know that essentially we’ve only got one life we need to make the most of it, so enjoy it and if we do reincarnate then its so important to truly love, forgive, be kind and take pleasure in happiness because you don’t want to bring any karmic shit back into your next life! Success is living in the moment whether that is reading a good book on a rainy afternoon or skinny-dipping under the full moon. Success is enjoying your human body; it is the outfit your soul has chosen to wear. Success is never giving up and knowing that money, cars, fancy things do not measure how successfully you are living life because all those things are shallow and you can’t take them with you when you die, success is the falling away of societal pressure to be “normal”, it is just being yourself which is sadly seen as abnormal, so go be beautifully peculiar!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
I have an American uncle and he came to visit my family in the UK one Christmas and we all went to a Sunday roast “all you can eat’ buffet.” Waiting in line I watched him tell the chef which meat he wanted and so forth and then he said “Oh can I have some extra Turkey and two more Yorkshire puddings?” and the chef said “Yeah sure”. I was speechless, how on earth did he do that with such confidence? I thought. My uncle turned to me and said, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get, what’s the worse that could happen? They say ‘No’? So what!” This was the best advice ever and from that day forward I’ve never been afraid to ask and I am not afraid of rejection, which in turn has increased my confidence, and I’ve become quite charismatic and headstrong.
What’s next for you?
Oh so much is in the pipeline! I am currently working on promo material to set up Kiddo combined yoga & art classes in my local community. I am working on a new headdress and choreography for a new belly dance performance, which also includes a new video and photography as well.
I’m looking into doing a Teen Yoga teacher training here in the UK and saving for a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand and I hope to be living out there for about 3 months. I am also studying a Dance Therapy diploma to have a good understanding of dance as therapy so I can apply that to my belly dance sessions.
My hope and vision is to be able to facilitate holistic art, yoga and dance workshops to people of all ages and also give individuals the opportunity to have custom sessions with me, one person may want an hour of yoga plus a 30 minute Reiki session or a group of women many want a two hour long belly dance and dream-catcher workshop? I am staying open to the possibilities and surrendering to the moment and where it guides me to next.
I plan to travel more and perhaps leave the UK because I fancy being part of a tour group or co-facilitate retreats which would be wonderful being able to offer and teach all that I do whilst in a beautiful place in the world, I also want to offer these things to refugees and those with mental health issues.
In my free time I’ve been working on an illustrated poetry book, this is a slow process but it’s been on my bucket list to have a book published and I am learning to play the ukulele. So there are many things I am manifesting and I believe much of this will come to fruition in 2017, I’ve been very patient and its been a long time coming so I am excited for all these projects to truly blossom!