Bringing out the inner tigress

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Kelly Henderson… “I was overweight, depressed and in a job I didn’t like, and I knew I had to find a way out of that.” Photo by Andrew Finch
Kelly Henderson… “I was overweight, depressed and in a job I didn’t like, and I knew I had to find a way out of that.” Photo by Andrew Finch

AS Canberra’s first Tigress Yoga teacher, Kelly Henderson says she wanted to bring the practice to women here to help them take time for themselves and rebalance their lives.

“It’s sensual yoga for women, and it’s about working with the feminine energy – it’s like a moving meditation based in Taoist and Tantric philosophies,” she says.

“As women we have so many aspects to ourselves that we don’t get to explore, but with Tigress we can take time out every week for ourselves, to self nurture. Women are craving that.

“When we’re at work we can be so in-the-masculine or so busy being mums. We’re not taking time for ourselves and it’s really beautiful to rebalance.”

Tigress is a feminine style of yoga created by Devashi Shakti in Melbourne more than 10 years ago.

Kelly has been teaching Tigress in Canberra for three years, and says her own journey with the practice started when she realised she needed to do something for herself.

“I was overweight, depressed and in a job I didn’t like, and I knew I had to find a way out of that,” she says.

Meditation provided an outlet, she says, but it was still a disconnect from reality and her body.

“When we had to come back into the body after the meditation session, I always felt like I didn’t want to,” she says.

“I felt fat and uncomfortable in my body, but I had a feeling that I couldn’t ignore the body part of the ‘mind, body, spirit’ journey any longer.”

Kelly met Devashi at a workshop in Sydney and says she knew she wanted to learn how to teach Tigress from her.

“I had a body-level knowing with Devashi, and although I was overweight, unhappy and trying to find myself, I felt as though she saw me as I am now,” she says.

“She had an energy, elegance and calmness about her, and I asked her, ‘what do you do?’”

Kelly then went on to have two children, and when her youngest was a year old she started the yoga training.

“It meant a week away in Melbourne but I knew it was something I had to do, because I wanted Tigress to be available to women in Canberra,” she says.

“The practice can help you feel more centred, calm and in touch with your authentic self. You can speak your truth, listen to your intuition.

“If you don’t know it exists, you can’t know what you’re missing.”

Kelly says the practice has helped her with many aspects of her own life.

“I can feel emotions now, and I don’t have to numb myself,” she says.

“I feel healthy, and have energy and vitality to enjoy my kids.”

Kelly says that when she left the public service to teach Tigress Yoga full time, she felt she could be herself 100 per cent of the time. She is also a reiki practitioner, sensuality coach and burlesque performer – a long way from her degree in information management with a major in law.

“I’ve learned to really let all that go, as it doesn’t mean anything,” she says.

“At school I was very sensitive, emotional and intuitive and I found that it was ‘not cool’ to be that way, so I shut it down.

“My Rock Eisteddfod teacher once told me never to wear my heart on my sleeve. I remember being so confused by that comment.

“Now with my tattoos and how I live my life, I literally do wear my heart on my sleeve.”

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist with a particular interest in homes and gardens.

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