We talked with Kara Wirt in June, 2020.
Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hi, I’m Kara and I teach yoga for athletes. I’m 32 and I live in London with my partner Dickie, our seven-month old baby Torr and our dog Nelson. I have a degree in Psychology and have always been interested in the mind/body connection. I used to compete in rowing and as well as partaking in various running/swimming/biking challenges.
I’m really interested in holistic support for athletes through the use of yoga in training programmes as well as general lifestyle medicine and how people can live healthier, happier lives.
Describe a typical day of training
At the moment, I am discovering how to keep fit whilst looking after my baby boy! I do a lot of baby carrying as well as yoga (with and without bub).
I love going for a jog either with the running buggy or on my own which is like meditation for me!
I love lifting weights and paddle boarding, which I haven’t had loads of time to do recently but I look forward to doing more!
My personal focus has moved from performance to practices that improve overall health and wellbeing.
How do you keep going and push harder?
For me, time for my personal practice or training is a form of meditation and support my mental wellbeing. I have found that being ok with doing something rather than having expectation for long training sessions has been my key for consistency recently.
It is easy to write off a session if you only have 30 minutes until bedtime/bath time, etc. – but consistently doing something is better than nothing. I love booking out time to train, but it doesn’t always happen.
I love seeing how to incorporate healthy habits and movements into every day routines and as our lives get so busy I think these little wellness hacks can be key to success.
The biggest challenges I’ve faced physically are completing an Ironman and a 100mile ultramarathon. However, no physical challenge has compared to how becoming a parent has challenged me. It has changed me from the core and continues to challenge me every day.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My personal practices keep moving towards wellbeing goals rather than purely sports performance. Becoming a mum to my little boy has massively changed my priorities and I try and be the best person I can be for him!
My advice to my younger self: Look after yourself fully. Think of more than just your physical training – what can you do holistically to improve your performance? Nourish yourself nutritionally, mentally and allow yourself to recover optimally.
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I am all about rest and recovery! I love helping athletes see how they can build R&R practices into their daily lifestyles. Personally, I always come back to the mantra ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ – this works both for helping others but also in terms of your sports performances.
Yoga, meditation, good sleep hygiene, hydration and nutrition are just a few of the ways that I am passionate about teaching and building into my own and others recovery strategies.
My sleeping hours vary but I would love to say eight, but with my little one we’re not quite there yet! I know I function my best on eight hours of sleep so hopefully I’ll be back there soon.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I am mostly plant-based and try to eat intuitively and mindfully. I used to row as a ‘lightweight’ where I would need to track energy input and output carefully to maintain my strength in that weight category. It has been a transition to really listening to what my body now needs for optimum health rather than just performance based within a weight category.
Breakfast I’ll often have porridge or a smoothie/breakfast bowl with a variety of fresh fruits and nuts. Lunch is often what I call a ‘megasalad’ with lots of veggies, salad, nuts, seeds and either pulses or bread. Dinner we love making spicy food often Indian or Mexican. One of our favourites would be aubergine and cashew nut curry with dhal and coconut rice.
I drink coffee with oat milk and I also have herbal teas. I enjoy a glass or two of wine about once a week.
I don’t deny myself anything but I find I don’t often crave junk food as I know my body doesn’t feel its best afterwards. I’d prefer to have a few pieces of good quality dark chocolate rather than super sugary chocolate bars and that’s enough to satisfy any cravings.
What has inspired and motivated you?
I love the saying ‘he knows not where he’s going for the ocean will decide, it’s not the destination it’s the glory of the ride’. This doesn’t mean that performance goals aren’t useful but for me it means the process and the journey are far more important than the destination (and if the focus is on the process then often it follows that the outcome is better anyway!)
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
For anyone starting out with yoga or fitness – I would suggest they start very simple. You don’t need fancy equipment or even a mat to start with!
You can find a teacher or use free resources like my YouTube channel ‘Yoga with Kara’. Try and set an easily achievable goal e.g. 10 minutes three times per week.
Often you will feel motivated when you have started the activity and will actually do much longer/further than you aimed for. Having a programme to follow or a teacher or coach will help with structure and progression – and help you to achieve goals.
Are you taking on clients right now?
I am currently teaching sports teams, group classes and individual ‘yoga for athletes’ sessions. Do get in touch if you would like to find out how yoga can help improve athletic performances.
I often get asked how many times per week they need to ‘do yoga’ to see improvements. My take is it’s so much more than that – you need to think about your posture daily – how you are sitting? How you may be looking down at your phone constantly. How you are prepping the body and aiding it in recovery.
It would be great to do a full session of yoga with an instructor once a week and a few shorter sessions on your own to complement it, but you need to also look a little deeper than that if you want to optimize your gains.
Where can we learn more about you?
You can find me online as ‘Yoga with Kara’:
YouTube: Yoga with Kara