The Yoga Leader

The Yoga Leader

Katie McClelland is a Yoga Coach, Mentor, Public Speaker, and Business Owner. She operates De La Sol Yoga Studios at 430 York Boulevard (Hamilton), and 255 Dundas Street East (Waterdown).

Katie will be master of ceremonies at YogaFest, Equinox III at the Burlington Convention Centre, March 17 & 18, 2018. Van caught up with Katie last week at her Waterdown location; this interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Van Hansen: For someone that is new to yoga, how would you explain what it’s all about?

Katie McClelland: The question ‘what is yoga’ is interesting because yoga is hard to define, and everybody who comes to yoga ends up creating their own definition for themselves.

Yoga encompasses a spectrum of practices from the passive, restful, and effortless all the way through to the sweatiest, most challenging cardiovascular workout you’ve ever had. These all fall under the umbrella of Hatha Yoga.

Then you’ve also got different styles like Karma Yoga which is the yoga of selfless service or Bhakti Yoga yoga which is the yoga of devotion and chanting.

I define yoga as mindful movement. It’s learning to breathe in a way that connects you to your deeper sense of self, unraveling tension from your body and nervous system, calming the mind, and allowing you to move through the world with a greater ease, stability, grace, humour, and joy. That’s what it does for me.

The flexibility and the strength that yoga provides are byproducts of the practice. They are pleasant side effects to the mindfulness, but not the ultimate goals in and of themselves. It’s more about that quiet time that you spend listening to your breath and your body.

Van Hansen: You have said that you feel like you were born into yoga.

Katie McClelland: I do, you know we have women go through our teacher training program all the time who are pregnant and I always think that little baby is absorbing some of this knowledge on that osmosis level.

It’s what happened to me; my Mom was pregnant when she did her yoga teacher training 42 years ago. Then she opened her own yoga studio in Burlington. Mom has since retired but teaches part of my yoga teacher training, and has a very dedicated home practice.

So I grew up surrounded by the practice of yoga and meditation but like a lot of teenagers I rebelled for a while and had zero interest in mindfulness and spirituality. When I came around it really was due to my watching the way my mom moved through the world.

I recognized different qualities she embodied were qualities that I too wanted to embody. It was through the practice of yoga that she was able to achieve this and so that was what piqued my interest as a young person.

Van Hansen: How has your role as a yoga practitioner evolved over the years?

Katie’s Yoga Studio in Waterdown, ON

Katie McClelland: When I started as a yoga teacher that was certainly my main identity for 20-plus years. I now classify myself

more as a coach and mentor, a public speaker and entrepreneur.

I have really enjoyed growing into my leadership role, my mentorship role to yogis or people who want to teach yoga, and also to people that want to start their own business. I have been through all the ups and downs.

The Hamilton studio is in its 12th year which feels like a real accomplishment; as we know a lot of businesses close early on. I went from just myself teaching (I started with a business partner but we parted ways after 3 years) to now between the two studios there are more than 50 teachers, with just over 90 staff altogether.

I have learned a lot along the way and I love imparting my knowledge, wisdom, and experience to others that are on a similar path.

Van Hansen: And one of the ways you do that is through your public speaking.

Katie McClelland: You may have read that I am a recovering addict—I was addicted to crystal meth for a good part of my late teens and 20s.

So much of the public speaking I do is around that, and around helping people face their own struggles, and live their lives with as much self-love, self-acceptance, and help as possible. It is possible to turn things around and experience a beautiful blessed life.

Van Hansen: It must have taken a lot of courage to share that part of you.

Katie McClelland: You know I had a lot of shame around those years. Being a drug addict was a dark secret and so was going to rehab.

For 5 or 6 years I felt like I was living in duality. I had the yoga teacher version of myself that people were looking up to and as people tend to do with yoga teachers, you know sometimes putting them on a pedestal in terms of being someone that has not only figured out health and all that, but figured out the answers to the bigger questions in life. And then I was really worried about somebody finding out about my past.

Eventually I shared the story with a couple of people they were so moved and inspired. It was such a beautiful moment of connection and vulnerability not only for myself but for them as well, and I realized this was something that I needed to do not only for myself to keep healing and on the path of recovery but also a story that would really make meaning out of those difficult years in terms of helping others.

Van Hansen: Tell me about Yoga with Katie on Cable 14.

Katie McClelland: Linda Rourke is the producer of Hamilton Life. She is the one that really pushed the show forward, and it’s been a big hit with the community. The whole idea is to demystify yoga to bring the practice into the living rooms of people who don’t choose to come out to a yoga studio, so they can still reap the benefits.

I met Linda a few years ago; she is an amazing mentor, and an inspiring woman in every way. She happens to love yoga, and she’s in my teacher training program right now.

Van Hansen: How did you choose the name for your studio?

Katie McClelland: It’s named after one of my favourite hip-hop groups from the 90s but they spell it ‘soul’ so De La Sol has become an interesting mix of French and Spanish.

Once I learned more about marketing, I could tell you that when you’re creating a name for your business first of all it should be instantly recognizable in terms of showing the public what it is you offer, and secondly it needs to be easy to pronounce and read. So I didn’t follow those rules but it seems to have worked for me. I feel like there’s some magic in the name, and the studios have flourished.

Next Story is The Radio Host



Katie McClelland

About the Author

Van Hansen

While Van is not allowed to sing, he is allowed to write songs and stories. Mostly stories. Published in magazines such as Canadian Aviator, Canadian Geographic, Costco Connection, Photography Monthly, and The Walrus, Van now shares with you the Profiles and everyday adventures of the People in Your Neighbourhood™, Community Spotlights, plus News & Reviews in the NEW Hansen House Blog! Van is a Certified Executor Advisor, and a Real Estate Broker with the full-service boutique brokerage Apex Results Realty Inc. in Burlington, ON.

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