Chloe Kernaghan Dances To Feel Joy

"No one has to be better than anyone else. My style of yoga isn’t your style of yoga, you know? My style of dance isn’t better than your style of dance—it doesn’t have to be better. It doesn’t have to be ranked."
Chloe Kernaghan Dances To Feel Joy

“I was born and raised on the island of Guam. My parents were from California, but they moved out there in the ‘70s and basically never left. I was the flattest of the flat chested growing up. One day I was at a pool spot called Tarza with my friend, and in the showers after she said, ‘it’s like you have pancakes and I have peaches.’ I still don’t have much of a chest, but it definitely took a while after teen years to be comfortable in my body. I danced growing up, and I threw myself entirely into the world of performance. Dancing has always helped me [be confident]. There is a lot of dance that requires you to look a certain way, but where I grew up and the studio I was a part of, losing weight was never the conversation. We had bodies of all shapes and sizes. I think in that group setting I felt like I fit in, even if I was different.

Chloe Kernaghan
Chloe wears the Balconette in Blush

I went to Tisch when I was 17. I was in college, doing dance, working at a restaurant... not living my best life — I was falling into a bit of a dark hole with restaurant life. I’d always done yoga, but I started practicing it more consistently and it pulled me out of the trenches. I wasn’t really looking to make money on dance — or at least not to support myself entirely — I thought training to be a yoga teacher sounded like a good choice. So that became my thing. I did my teacher training, and started teaching regularly. I met my business partner Krissy [Jones] through the studio we were both teaching at, and we started practicing together. Our teacher, Nevine Michaan, really opened us up to how much more yoga could be. Shortly thereafter we started doing retreats, and then we opened Sky Ting. We try to pull in more practical techniques that aren’t necessarily talked about — we try to make the material more pragmatic. What you’re doing and why you’re doing it, so you can leave feeling empowered in how to take care of yourself. You can walk away feeling like you’re back on track in a way. It’s not just a workout.

Chloe Kernaghan
Chloe wears the Balconette in Blush

I’ve always felt like dance and movement is a clearer language for me than, say, speaking to you right now. [Laughs] But I find a tremendous amount of beauty in, and I’m constantly inspired by, seeing different bodies — how they can move and create beauty on their own as individual instruments. I think the more variety in bodies I see, the greater sense of appreciation I have for the human form. I don't find that yoga practice forces you to have any specific body type — as least not the yoga we teach. It’s about giving you the tools to create a comfortable space for yourself in your body. How to get comfortable with yourself. Cleaning out your junk drawers, knowing all the rooms of your ‘house’ so you’re not avoiding spots you don’t want to deal with. And it’s so lovely to see individuals moving. To see the unique form we all have. Everyone looks different doing things, and I think those differences are really refreshing.

I remember from an early age, and even now — I haven’t figured all of this out — I am awkward sometimes, and even dancing I can look awkward in my own judgmental eyes. So it’s about owning up to that: not being perfect. I don’t look like a ballerina, but who cares? If I feel good when I’m moving, that’s the one thing that matters. I think everyone needs some physical practice that allows them to re-embody themselves. We are so digital, visual, and Cloudspace oriented. The images we see of ourselves are on our iPhones and social media. So if you can find a practice—yoga, or dance, or boxing, or running, or whatever it is for you, I think in those moments there’s a real acceptance of yourself. No needing approval.

Chloe Kernaghan
Chloe wears the Balconette in Blush

We’re so goal-oriented as a society, but at a certain point, you need to question it: Why do I need to get there? My skin has always been a big struggle in terms of self-confidence for me. There is so much pressure, and that’s where the self hate latches on — I’m a yoga teacher, I’m supposed to be healthy, I eat this and that, but my skin is still flaring up. It’s those weak marks that allow me to put blame and shame on things, and it ricochets and becomes a much larger thing that really holds me back. But I’m lucky because I have some amazing friends and teachers that have helped give me techniques that are useful. Meditation, especially when my mind starts to go super wack-o, has been super useful for me. Talking to friends. I’ve realized we all have things we’re ashamed to talk about, because we all want to appear like we have our shit together, but like… we don’t.

As someone in the wellness industry, I’m always striving toward a conscious drive to integrity. I think what that comes down to is practicing what you preach. Personally, I’ve been grappling with being a white woman in this white, privileged wellness world, and how I can help shift the paradigm a little bit — to encourage conversation for people who don’t have the funds to come to a $25 yoga class. But I know there is still a lot of work I have to do on myself to get to how I, as an individual, can take action in shifting where the future goes. With any issue you’re dealing with, the work has to be done on yourself before you can do anything for anyone else.

Chloe Kernaghan
Chloe wears the Balconette in Blush

Where we are in the world today, wellness still has that undercurrent of a scheme where someone is always on top. What my friends and I are trying to do is balance it out. No one has to be better than anyone else. My style of yoga isn’t your style of yoga, you know? My style of dance isn’t better than your style of dance—it doesn’t have to be better. It doesn’t have to be ranked. I can have a yoga studio and you can have a yoga studio and they can be a block apart from each other and it can be totally cool. It doesn’t have to be a competition. Yoga is all about power, but I believe it’s always more powerful to be kind. And no one can take away your power. Only you can take away your power, you can give it up. But you can also take it back—it’s not a one shot thing.”

Photographed in CUUP by Stephanie Lavaggi. Interview by Anna Jube

Tags: bodytalk , health & wellness

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