Thursday, March 4, 2010

To Give Back

One day 2 years ago I signed up for a prenatal yoga class. Little did I know I was to meet Karri Skelton of Kembali Yoga, a compassionate and talented woman who would enlighten me that through a warrior pose and the need for travel you can change the world, one girl at a time.
SMRBS: Who are you?
Karri: I'm the mother of three beautiful little girls (ages 7, 4 & 3) who enjoys living life to the fullest. I enjoy outdoor adventure, travel, dance and continually learning new things. I'm also married to a very caring & supportive Naval physician. We are currently stationed in Yokosuka, Japan.
SMRBS : What do you do?
Karri: I teach Yoga & Pilates classes in Japan and own/operate Kembali, a non-profit yoga clothing line. In Balinese it means to "give back".
SMRBS: When did you start being active?
As with most things, you don't realize how much you want to change until you've hit a certain low. I waited until I was 30 to get married because I thought if I had a career & worked through my 20s it would be easier to move on to the next phase and stay at home when I had children. But when I had our first child (two years after we got married) I quit my 10 year career, we moved across the country and I developed post-partum depression. I had no idea what to do as a stay-at-home mom, had no friends or family in the area and my husband was working over 100 hours a week as a new resident at the hospital. After spending too many days crying and not seeking help because I didn't know what was wrong, I decided that exercise might help. So I went to the local YMCA, looked at their list of classes and yoga looked like the easiest one to start with. I thought we'd just relax and stretch but it was completely different than what I imagined. It was the hardest workout I ever had (Power Yoga) and not only was it a physical challenge, but mentally and emotionally it inspired me. So I continued on practicing yoga, started eating healthier, losing weight, feeling good about myself and making new friends. It helped me turn my life around.
That's when I knew that being active and healthy was essential to finding true happiness. I became certified as a yoga instructor. Since then my confidence has sky rocketed. Now I can teach yoga in front of 100 sailors without being nervous . I also started taking belly dancing lessons to push my own limits of self-consciousness and now after dancing on stage at festivals, I feel even more confident about my body and appreciate my womanly curves.
SMRBS: Where has being active taken you?
Karri: Since becoming an active mom in Virginia we moved to Yokosuka, Japan and it's been the most amazing experience ever! Even though we have 3 small children we still take them with us on trips (like to Thailand, the island of Saipan, and all over Japan). I also think it's important for mom to go on her own sometimes and spend time with her friends on "ladies' trips". I've been to Korea & Bali with friends and went solo to Hong Kong for a yoga conference. I've been to Bali a couple times on my own as well to start up my yoga clothing line. I fell in love with the people & culture on that island and wanted to do something to give back. So I started out with having a few sketches being produced there, a small fashion shoot (using my friends as models) and now it's really growing. 100% of our profits go to buying school uniforms & books for girls who cannot afford them so that they may become empowered through education. (It's a 3rd world country and women are not expected to finish high school or grade school).
As far as other ways of staying active, since living in Japan I've gotten into more outdoor adventures (rock climbing, hiking, kayaking & diving). I think more women could find happiness through travel & adventurous activities as opposed to shopping or going to a spa (although I do love a good Shiatsu massage).
SMRBS: Why do you do it? Why are you the way you are now?
Karri: Once you become active and healthy you feel so good, you don't want to go back. When you're constantly challenging your body & mind, releasing endorphins, feeling strong and powerful then you become confident and know that even though the world may have a stereotype of what a middle-aged stay-at-home mother of three is suppose to look or act like, you are an amazing and fearless woman who can do anything you set your mind to. No matter how many kids, no matter what your circumstances, you can pursue your dreams and not wait until they're all in college. Live life now, get a babysitter, take a class, and DON'T feel guilty about it. As mothers we are always putting ourselves last on our list of things to do which causes resentment and frustration. The only way that you can give love to your children is if you love yourself first. If mom isn't happy then no one in family is happy. I also think I "am the way I am" now because of losing my father 2 years ago. It made me realize that life is short, we can go at any time and that we need to live each day with gratitude in our hearts for each moment. Don't put off our dreams, hopes and happiness because tomorrow may never come. Go! Do! See! "Run.Bike.Swim!!!"

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