Fashion photographer, creative director and yoga instructor, Kia Naddermier is also a mother of two little girls and the founder of Mysore Yoga Paris, Le Yoga Shop Paris and Le Yoga Shop Journal.
In this interview she shares her spiritual and entrepreneurial journey and talks about the importance of allowing yourself time and mindfulness as a stepping-stone to success in life and work.
Kia, on top of running Le Yoga Shop you are also a fashion photographer, art director and main teacher of Mysore Yoga Paris. What is your secret for managing all these projects without burning out?
I wish I could say there was a magic formula but there is no way around it, my workload is heavy. I also have two children, so my days often begin before 4am in the morning. To be honest, there is not much juggling involved but rather a large amount of discipline, planning, hard work and dedication. Having said that, I want to stress that I feel immensely privileged to work with what I love and that in itself gives me heaps of energy and joy.
Where and when did you train to become a yoga instructor, who was your teacher ? What was his most important teaching for you ?
When I took my first Ashtanga Yoga class with John Scott in London about 20 years ago, there were no such thing as teacher trainings -this is actually a very recent phenomenon. The practice awakened an instant recognition in me, and from that moment I took up a daily self-practice. I have since then studied with many of the most senior teachers of the Ashtanga Yoga lineage as well as spent time at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India. I also have spent every summer for the last 20 years with Radha & Pierre in Crete. My teacher of Pranayama is Shri O.P Tiwariji, the successor to Swami Kuvalyananda and one of the few remaining masters of Pranayama today. Tiwariji has given me more than I could ever begin to tell you. But his biggest gift to me is not his brilliant teachings (which are endless) but by being the luminous and yet infinitely humble man he is.
What do you like the most about teaching yoga ?
To teach yoga is a never-ending learning process. Every student experience and journey is unique and as their teacher I´m invited to share it with them. This is an infinite source of inspiration and possibility to evolve and explore. I see it truly as a privilege.
Yoga has become a big trend these last years, with more and more young people wanting to become yoga teacher and open their studios, what would be your advice to them ?
“Gaining experience takes time. We live in a day in age where we are programmed to expect instant gratification and often times we sadly see yoga being packaged and sold in that same way. So I think it is more essential than ever to remember that the most important thing when beginning the path of yoga is to allow time and space for personal practice and exploration.”
These days there are many good trainings but I don´t believe that any course or training could really prepare a person to become a yoga teacher. Authentic teaching and sharing can only ever emerge from your own practice. Gaining experience takes time. We live in a day in age where we are programmed to expect instant gratification and often times we sadly see yoga being packaged and sold in that same way. So I think it is more essential than ever to remember that the most important thing when beginning the path of yoga is to allow time and space for personal practice and exploration. Ultimately it is only that – our own experience with the practice – that we can share as teachers, nothing more and nothing less.
When and why did you start Le Yoga Shop ?
The idea came from our good friend Lovisa Burfitt who had created tops for my yoga shala in Paris, to raise money for a small underfunded children’s home in Mysore, India. The tops started out as a small project, but we soon found ourselves sending them all over the world.
What makes Le Yoga Shop different from other yoga clothes shops ?
When it comes to finding yoga clothes, what is on offer in many yoga and sport shops today is very different from what we would actually wear in our daily life. Because of this, many of us rather go to our favorite shops, designers and markets around the world to find something contemporary, comfortable and stylish, made with great materials, than getting a typical ‘yoga-top’ with an OM-appliqué or a pair of high-tech workout pants with a non-flattering cut in a yoga / sports shop. Neither ‘work-out wear’ nor ‘yoga-clothes’ are generally in line with our everyday style. The clothes we offer in Le Yoga Shop are all made by fashion designers that we truly respect and love. Our clothes are high quality, have a great sense of style and cut and are wearable both on and off the mat.
With Le Yoga Shop Journal we have created a platform for what we consider is an important and inspirational discussion on yoga. In Le Yoga Shop Journal you will not find smoothie recipes or how-to-do hand stands but instead we like to look at how yoga influences life at large, art, culture, society. We have great journalists, photographers, and yoga scholars contributing regularly.
“With Le Yoga Shop Journal we have created a platform for what we consider is an important and inspirational discussion on yoga. In Le Yoga Shop Journal you will not find smoothie recipes or how-to-do hand stands but instead we like to look at how yoga influences life at large, art, culture, society. We have great journalists, photographers, and yoga scholars contributing regularly.”
Then there is also the aspect of giving something back to the source, part of all profit from everything sold at Le Yoga Shop Paris is donated to Operation Shanti.
Do you see a connection between the work as a photographer and as a yoga teacher?
I still don´t feel completely comfortable with the title ‘yoga teacher’ as for me it is truly a sacred title which you can´t really give to yourself. It can only be given by your students when they chose to become your student. I see myself as a photographer who teaches some yoga. But to answer your question, yes for me there is a clear connection: when I am in the middle of a shoot or when I am teaching I find myself totally present in the moment. There is no room for anything else in my mind, I am fully there which is a magic experience.
What is the best business advice you ever got ?
Well it is not so much a ‘business’ advice but Swami Kuvalyananda, my teacher´s teacher said: Don´t pay attention to what others are doing. Pay attention to what you are doing. This simple advice helps me to remain mindful in my actions and true to my cause.
“Swami Kuvalyananda, my teacher´s teacher said: Don´t pay attention to what others are doing. Pay attention to what you are doing.”
What did creating Le Yoga Shop and all your other projects teach you ?
That nothing is impossible and you can always learn something new.
Who inspires you the most ?
I´m constantly inspired by my women friends and family as well as my yoga students. I don’t have one role model I have many.
Can you share five Fun Facts About you:
- I’m obsessed with the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. I watch and read everything I can get my hands on from this man. Sometimes I even watch clips from certain movies on repeat.
- My first ever commissioned photo shoot (while still in photography school) was shooting Slash from Guns n´Roses. They paid me in electric guitars.
- I have NO sense of direction, I can get lost in our grocery store.
- My one and only permanent employment was in the post office taking care of big parcels. I was 18 years old and worked together with two men both in their early 60-ties, one of them was always drunk. I lasted about two months before I decided to take an offer I had from a model agency in Milan.
- I make great cinnamon buns!
I usually get up around 4.00, after a quick shower I begin practicing -Kriyas (yogic purification techniques), Pranayama (yogic breathing practices) and Asanas (the yoga postures).
On week days I go for a power smoothie or fruit, but on week ends we love to enjoy long lazy breakfasts with everything from pancakes to croissants!
Last thing before going to bed :
I rub my feet with an oil my Auyrvedic doctor has prescribed me.
Typical day schedule
4.00 : Wake Up
4.30-6.30 or 7.00 : Practice (see above). After I wake up the girls, have breakfast with them before I bike to the shala. I teach at Mysore Yoga Paris between
7.00-11.00 : depending on the day. After I often have a meeting with someone before heading back to work with everything around Le Yoga Shop and Mysore Yoga Paris, organization around various photo shoots and other projects, post-production, answering e-mails, preparations for my workshops, yoga studies, and so on.
It´s more or less non-stop until I pick up Devi from school at 16.30 or 18.00 depending on the day. Then we do her home work together and we always have dinner the whole family around 19.00. After that I spend time with the girls and Magnus.
I usually cave around 22.00.
Images courtesy of Kia Naddermier. 1. Kia is photographed by Jan Walters. 2. Patanjali via Mysore Yoga Paris. 3. Le Yoga Shop images by Kia Naddermier.