In bed with Kirthana Amirthavasani

If you have enjoyed practicing more yoga during lock down then I hope that you enjoyed the amazing classes by Kirthana. A former lawyer turned yogi, photographer and foodie, Kirthana is a woman of so many talents- her yoga classes are one of my favourites to attend (have a look at her website from the gushing reviews from her students). Her photography makes you hungry for food which you didn’t know you were craving and luckily she shares all of her mouth watering recipes on her blog. Freedom is something which comes up a lot during this interview, as Kirthana implores us to be free in our movement, play with food and enjoy the worlds best natural spa- our sleep.

Hi Kirthana, how have you been these last few uncertain months? Did you adopt any new rituals to keep spirits high during lockdown?

Hey, Charlotte! Firstly, thank you for having me on your platform and doing this interview.

It has definitely been up and down these past few months, and given that I spend most of my time guiding yoga classes in person, it was all suddenly not possible anymore. I realized that it must be so much worse for some others, especially those living alone, so I started guiding a free class every morning for some friends, and then they brought their friends, which was nice. Over the months it became a little yoga family, and also a safety bubble for all of us to connect with different people after class, maybe share a few laughs.

I've always had a great love affair with food, and with much more time available, I began to experiment more and played with ideas that I'd otherwise brush aside for lack of time.

You are a woman of many talents- a former lawyer, now a health coach, yoga teacher and photographer, can you tell us a bit about how you went from being a lawyer to yoga, food and photography?

Working as a lawyer was a great privilege, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy myself. A large part of my work was with food laws around the world, and that was really exciting to keep learning and understanding how different jurisdictions viewed the food we consumed. But even in my time working in an office, I was always restless, and needed to keep moving. Health and personal wellness has always been the highest priority, and it became even more so after I sustained a terrible knee injury about 6 years ago. At this point I could barely walk without being in terrible pain, and so taking matters into my own hands, I decided that the only way to stay active despite all this would be to play with some gentle yoga moves. It looked little like yoga given my restricted range of mobility, but slowly and surely it helped. After nearly a year, I was walking better, and two years down the line I was nearly back to normal. I realized I wanted to learn more about the magic and so I enrolled to formally study yoga. After that it's been no turning back. I felt pulled to share what had helped me get better, and so I slowly began guiding full time over 2 years ago.

And about the food bit - my family has always been passionate about food, and I'm ever so grateful for that. My mum is a fantastic cook, and her mum was even better, and legend has it that her grandmum was a star in the kitchen. So even as a child, I'd always sit on the kitchen counter keenly watching what was going on. My mum would encourage me to smell new ingredients, appreciate the texture, taste as dishes were being cooked, and would also kindly give me the kitchen scraps to play with, haha! Trips to the farmers markets were always filled with wonder, and we had a lovely kitchen garden from which we'd use fresh produce for our meals. I've grown up with food experiments, and can't imagine a day when I'd grow tired of it. Wanting to understand better nutrition and wholesome food choices, I trained to be a health coach. It's helped me broaden my horizons with respect to how I look at food, and more freedom to play with what works for me as opposed to what is generally accepted as the norm. So I wanted to share those experiments/experiences with people, and the best way is through images as they really speak a thousand words. And that's how I began to take photography more seriously

Your recipes look unbelievably delicious (aided by the stunning photography) how did you begin to create recipes, was it something you grew up doing or did it become a passion later in life?

Thank you, that's very kind. Like I said above, there's always been a fair fuss around food in our household. So a lot of the conversations, till date, with my parents will most likely be about food and brainstorming ideas for what would pair with what, and what can be substituted for what. This may be odd, and I'm not sure anyone else feels the same, but there are days when I wake up and I can feel a certain flavour combination/idea forming in my mind, and I try to figure how I can recreate that. I think it's intuitive, and when you can completely let go, then your body can tell you what it really needs. And sometimes great inspiration comes from simple moments like that.

Do you have a favourite recipe to cook for yourself or others?

That's a tough one, although fish curry and rice would probably be my favourite.

What is your favourite thing about the work that you do?

I love that everything I do, even in a small way, can positively impact another person, and nothing can beat that.

I love your yoga classes so much, they are always so creative and I really enjoy heart opening sequences! Can you tell us a bit about your style and what drew you to yoga?

Thank you so much, I'm so glad to hear that. I've practiced yoga for around 15 years now, and professionally trained in both Hatha Yoga and Strala Yoga. I didn't take it seriously enough till my knee injury that I've mentioned above. And the greatest takeaway from all that I've learnt so far is to just let yourself be. Oftentimes we try to make things happen by making several micro adjustments, and in the process not being able to tune in to how we're really feeling. This is true in life as much as in yoga. When we give ourselves permission to shake it off, and listen to what's going on inside, then real magic can happen. Yoga has always meant to be a practice that takes one closer on their journey inward. The more we push and force to create shapes for the sake of it, the further away we draw ourselves away from that goal. So, in summary, I really want my classes to be a safe space with absolute freedom to explore better movement.

I have found that practicing certain yoga flows in the evening can really help with sleep at night, as a health coach and yoga teacher do you ever recommend yoga as a sleep aid to students?

Absolutely! Releasing tension from the actions of our day can really help us unwind both physically and mentally. A relaxing flow that allows you to linger in some places for a bit and explore can not only give you greater insight to those places where you're holding onto tension, but also use your breath to shine a spotlight on those areas and let it go + sigh it out. It's a moving meditation. And research has shown that meditation can help regulate melatonin which is the sleep hormone.

As I mentioned above, you are a woman of many talents and I was wondering what role sleeps plays in your life?

Nothing compares with a good night's rest of 8 solid hours. It's like a natural spa, and that's something I never want to compromise on. Obviously with work and other parts of life, that may not be the case every single day, so I'd say that on most days I get to bed by 10/10.30 and wake up at 6/6.30. On a day when I've had lesser sleep or disturbed sleep, then the next day feels like a washout which is no fun. It's a standing joke amongst my friends that my bedtime is often earlier than their kids, but I embrace that with all my heart and want to encourage anyone who'll listen to get their share of rest.

Do you have any night time routines which you know will set you up for a great night’s sleep?

I love a cup of any soothing infusion - something like chamomile, lavender or verbena. I've found reading really helps to wind down, and also turn our attention away from the bright screens of our devices to something more natural. And somehow I feel like I am transported into the world of the story, and slowly into dreamland.

Personally, I love having a hot chocolate before bed and I know that you have a recipe for a heavenly looking Mini Dalgona Mochas, will you ever be able just to do a special on hot chocolates?

Of course, I'd be happy to do one on hot chocolates. We could try something autumnal while it still lasts!

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