From NFL to a Holistic LifeStyle Coach, Fitness/Wellness Advocate, Consciousness Shifter and Philanthropist
Since March of 2015 when The Eden Magazine first featured Keith Mitchell, he has gone on to give of his time to several humanitarian causes. It is for this and so much more of what Mitchell does, that we could not resist sharing his work in this issue.
In the past two years Mitchell has visited the White House for the White House Meditation with Michelle Obama for the annual Easter Egg Roll, which was sponsored by Lululemon, he initiated Meditation with the LAPD where he was invited to teach at the Police Academy with the intention of creating an ongoing relationship, he has worked with Veteran’s who have returned home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and he also started the Congressional Yoga Association in which congress and Senate Republicans and Democrats could come together and meditate before voting. The first one he did on the Hill in DC was with Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, Charles Rangle of Harlem, New York, and congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. CNN, MSNBC, and FOX where all there to witness this event on the Hill.
Keith Mitchell is a multi-talented holistic lifestyle coach, fitness/wellness advocate, consciousness shifter and philanthropist. He is committed to providing tools that achieve health, harmony and aliveness to the fullest degree. He is a leader for these times when emotional and physical suffering is at an all-time high, when people feel disconnected from themselves and others, when they are disoriented from the truth and when they feel disempowered to affect change.
"When you realize that you can participate in your own healing process, you are no longer the victim." ~KM59
NFL All-Star Athlete Keith Mitchell #59, a former linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, found himself respected on the field for making record-setting defensive tackles and quarterback sacks. He was a modern day warrior, hero-worshipped by adoring fans and experiencing an elite earning bracket very few people in the world ever achieve. He was living the American Dream. And it all ended in a moment.
At the apex of all of that success, a paralyzing tackle caused a spinal injury that ended his football career and forced him into the agony of retirement at only 31 years old:
Transition was unavoidable…his choice was to either enter the depths of defeat or to find a new North. Keith dug deep. He was unwilling to surrender to the plague of emotional depression and the physical atrophy he had seen happen to many NFL peers after similar traumas. But what was the other option?
“In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams.
Turning his accident into a life purpose has allowed Keith to teach and inspire others from a vulnerable and powerful position. He now considers serving his purpose as a mindfulness mentor and healer to be the most rewarding role he has ever played.
In his darkest hour, Keith discovered conscious breathing, mindfulness and meditation. He found that these daily practices not only helped him physically recover from his injury, but created a refreshing sense of self-awareness and fulfillment that far surpassed his love for football.
After experiencing a profound, life-changing transformation from daily yoga and meditation disciplines, Keith developed a desire to share these liberating tools with others. He soon realized that many audiences had no exposure to such tools. Unable to keep such secrets to himself, Keith started on his new life path: To speak out and lead by example. Today, Keith has again risen to the top of his game. He is a Master Certified Yoga Instructor with more than 12 years of experience, and an International Teacher/Speaker, presenting at such prestigious locations as The Omega Institute in New York, and Sleepy Hollow Country Club.
Through encouraging consistent, self-empowerment practices, Keith is committed to inspiring major transformation in the lives of millions. It is his passion to reach the multi-cultural many, who live beyond the confines of traditional yoga studios. Through his non-profit organization “The Light It Up Foundation,” he has created a wellness movement which is intentionally changing the lives of our youth, trauma survivors, first responders and VETS.
Mindfulness is the starting line for our healing journey... the practice of meditation is taking that first step.
Keith's Approach to Meditation:
• Allows possibility and transformation to take place.
• Fosters compassion, nurturing and patience.
• Clears the mind and helps a person to reboot.
• Creates more clarity and allows more space between
• Opens the book of who we are – the unfiltered,
• Teaches us how to release the wounds we have
either adapted to or internalized.
• Helps us to recognize that past trauma and
experiences don’t define us.
• Allows the opportunity to release wounds we have
either adapted to, or internalized and the beauty in
this is that we create space to transform.
• Offers transformation. You learn you are not where
you’ve been, but where you choose to be.
From playing Football to becoming a yoga instructor, it seems like you’ve lived and experienced two
extremely different worlds, from being a tough
physical fighter, to becoming a spiritual guru,
why and how did you choose this path?
The spinal injury taught me a lot about myself and my life and where I wanted to be in it. In the most violent sport on the planet we use 20 pure brut force, but 80 percent of it is finesse. So, why only be so hard or so masculine in life? Add the softer sides such as compassion and gentleness. I realized that part of who I am was never discovered. You think of the Shaolin Monk that lives knowledge of how to destroy but chooses the life to create peace. That’s a master and I realized through my injury that this is what I had been searching for my whole life. I simply didn’t know how to get it. By showing this practice to men who are so masculine dominant or women who are masculine dominant it allows a healing for them. If you think about it, I never had a man in my life speak to me with a gentleness or compassion and unfortunately I suffered from that.
In one of your interviews you mentioned that you have “two mentalities” – one is an understanding of what you know now and one is an understanding of what you knew then. What do you mean by this?
The duality of living the word “success” as society tells me I should be living or from the place of trying to prove to the world I’m this or that, to the other side of living life creating solutions to our problems, creating business from a model of service and helping one another. Realizing the world we live in is all connected and no matter how much money or how secluded you live the chaos will find you.
Do you feel that you are more vulnerable now vs. when you were playing football?
Well, the warrior can’t be vulnerable. I have this saying “practice becomes your habits and your habits become your life” so the way you do business, those traits, that integrity you have there, will show in the other parts of your life. We have an idea that it separates but that’s a fallacy. I don’t believe in passion, you’re either excited about all of it or none of it. The straddle is nonexistent.
Did you always feel that practicing yoga could be as helpful for you before as you feel it is now?
I didn’t know yoga before my injury. The conception of yoga through stereotypes is there and they do affect the public. I feel that yoga, simply meaning union, allows you to really dial into who and literally what you are. It allows you a chance to feel what wholeness can potentially feel like.
What would you suggest to those who are seeking to find their path to happiness and peace?
Successful people typically have resources to push the envelopes on life, but at some point the destinations become a bore, the places begin to all look the same, the stimuli becomes void and then there you are, sitting all depressed, feeling lonely, unable to truly connect and that’s an awful feeling. We deserve more, we can have more, no matter age or circumstance you may have, if you have a breath you have a chance.
Do you see any similarities between practicing Yoga as a Master Certified Yoga Instructor and training and practicing sports?
It’s completely opposite. There’s no judgment when it comes to your practice. I guess the similarities would be the community of team to the community of humans working things out. In team sports it’s not about your skin color, it’s about the relationship that we have built, and you are my brother when I see you or when I don’t. When we come together I know you because I built trust with you and there’s no other feeling like that than to have that trust with another human being. To embrace who you are wholly and not just the parts you think are good but the whole person, it’s in that trust that dynasties are built.
Do you think that having been an NFL athlete helped you to practice and teach yoga?
I believe my background has opened doors but first I had to open that door of the NFL, which isn’t the easiest thing. It’s so competitive. Sometimes I say yes, I wish I would have just known yoga from the beginning, but my past has opened doors to the military, LAPD, corporations, the White House, and working with Congress, and I’ll take it because I’ve worked for every thing in my life.
As a person who cares for Veterans, please tell us more about how Yoga and Meditation, as therapeutic tools, can help the soldiers who suffer from past-Traumatic stress?
My association with the veterans connects to the warrior, that mentality, and from being that in my past, how possibly, if I wasn’t so closed off, I could’ve asked for help in some cases. In that help questions are answered and maybe that creates clarity for that person to find their way. So many of us think that we are the only one suffering from that one thing and it’s liberating to sense, to realize, my suffering can come to an end and I can have this peace.
What do you feel is your most successful achievement to date?
That’s tough, I have a son and a daughter, and we helped my mother who was diagnosed with cancer fully heal holistically - building an extended family of the people I get to meet when I speak or in my classes when I teach - oh yeah, football was cool too. The achievement thing gets put into perspective when you realize connecting to people and how great that is, helping people, solving problems, creating ideas of hope… those are the most fulfilling to me.
Tell us about your visit to the White House and meeting Michelle Obama and meditating with the LAPD.
I always thought that through sports would be my ticket to the White House, but instead it was through yoga and meditation. What an amazing treat it was, and of course yes, to meet President Obama and First Lady Michelle, they are great people. It was such an incredible experience. The LAPD invited me into their Police Academy to speak with them. That was amazing. Those guys have a rough job and I believe that the more clarity they have, the better decision-making capabilities they will have. We have some really cool projects coming up with the LAPD because I believe places like LA set a president for the rest of the world.
The Light It Up Foundation:
The Light It Up Foundation works with communities, schools and organizations to introduce mindfulness, meditation and movement -- with a yoga focus -- first and foremost to children. The foundation also serves to educate first responders; police and doctors, veterans and people who suffer mental disorders. We help others learn how to nurture and care for themselves and their bodies by meeting them where they are and introducing new possibilities.
A Man on a Mission
Fighting Childhood Obesity
Mindful Living Health Expo
For more information please visit
Brenda Saint Hilaire Photography
Amy Goalen, www.amygoalen.com
Location; Malibu, & Aesthesia Studios in Los Angeles