Kerri Kelly's reach is far, wide, and unrelentingly deep. She plunges right to the heart of the matter and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. A skilled yoga teacher, fierce coach, and inspirational leader, Kerri lives with courageous compassion and rallies others to join in the adventure. Founder of The Catalyst Collective and Executive Director of Off The Mat, Into The World™, she inspires passion and purpose worldwide. We couldn't be more grateful to steal a few moments of her busy schedule for a heart-to-heart with the one and only Kerri Kelly:
KiraGrace: You state on your bio that yoga was the tool that helped you define who you wanted to be. Is this the potential you saw in yoga from the beginning? If not, what originally hooked you?
Kerri Kelly: Oh hell no. I got into yoga for all the wrong reasons. I was hooked by the physical and motivated to have a better body. It wasn’t until 9-11, when I lost my step-dad, that I discovered yoga as a healing practice, and it just took off from there. The more I healed myself, the more I woke up to who I really was (not who I was supposed to be). Yoga not only saved my life, but put me on the path of purpose and service that has led me to this moment. I am so grateful for the privilege that it was in my life at that time. I don’t know where I’d be today without it.
KG: For those who are unfamiliar with The Catalyst Collective, what exactly is its purpose and what kind of projects do you tackle?
KK: The Catalyst Collective is a commitment to bringing forth social change from the inside out. We operate from the belief that everyone is a significant player in the game of life and has the potential to make an impact. Through embodied practices like meditation, yoga and somatic experiencing we tease out your fears, limitations, and motivations so that you’re operating on all cylinders. From there, we build out social impact strategies that are grounded in purpose and practice. We work with leaders and projects across all sectors who have an appreciation for how personal transformation leads to social change.
KG: What does being a catalyst for change mean to you?
KK: At its core, it is about BEING and becoming the significant, whole and powerful person you have always known yourself to be and engaging in the world from that place. Being a Catalyst is not so much about what you DO, although doing is a byproduct of it. It is about taking responsibility for ourselves and for one another. It is calling forth your best self and inspiring others to do the same for the sake of the wellbeing of all.
KG: What is one characteristic that you believe every service-oriented leader should possess?
KK: Courage…and by courage I don’t mean the kind you see written about in books, the “warriors” or “heros” of our culture. What I’m talking about is a courage that is both fierce and compassionate. I think what the world needs right now is leaders who have a capacity to hold the complexity of this moment. It’s not unlike the work of personal transformation which can often be messy and uncertain. Service is similar in that way and calls us to show up with the courage to be committed in our efforts and compassionate along the way.
KG: Individual growth is typically thought of as inwardly focused work, but you use it as a way to inspire outward action. Why is this kind of outwardly-focused service so important for self-development?
KK: Both are really important. The inner work strengthens our resolve and helps us build a capacity to show up in the world. But it is limiting to keep the “practice on the mat” or “on the cushion”. Our wellbeing is instrinsically tied to the wellbeing of others. Service and social engagement reinforces this truth AND will not only have an impact on those around you, but will, undoubtedly, have an impact on YOU. When we come to know ourselves in relationship to the world, it strengthens our sense of self and purpose.
KG: In your opinion, what is the greatest hurdle on the path to self-discovery? What holds us back from finding our true purpose and potential?
KK: I think it has to do with being able to experience your whole self so that you can live a full and purposeful life. For some, what’s in the way is self-worth and the belief that they matter and can make a difference. But for others, what’s in the way is access. Access to the basic resources (healthy food, education, healthcare) so that they, too, can thrive. Self discovery is not separate, but interdependent with that of others. The more we can know our purpose as a part of something larger than ourselves, the more fully it will blossom and the more affirmed we will be of our place in the world.
KG: What is your biggest dream?
KK: Big, wild, full LOVE…for all. That’s it.
KG: What kind of legacy do you hope to leave behind you?
KK: I don’t know that I need to leave behind a legacy. I just believe in “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” (Charles Eisenstein), and think that if I can be a catalyst in helping others know their worth, discover their purpose and engage fully in the world, then we’ll be a little closer to that vision.
KG: What is your favorite yoga pose? And what is your favorite KiraGrace item and why?
KK: In this moment? Half moon. Favorite KiraGrace item? Warrior T-Back Yoga Tank, for sure ☺
100% of profits from sales of the Warrior T-Back Tank are donated to Off the Mat, Into the World's Project Springboard.