Teachasana talked to well known, world traveling yoga teacher Kathryn Budig about her introduction to yoga, her love of arm balances, her organization, Poses for Paws, and the challenges of teaching yoga.
When were you first introduced to yoga and how did it impact your life?
I began practicing yoga in college. It started out as a workout in my gym and then turned into a weekly love affair when I practiced at our local ashtanga studio. Next thing you know I’m graduating college and looking into teacher trainings and end up in Los Angeles.
How did your teaching career begin? What events lead up to that change in your life?
I had spent most of my life thinking I was going to be an actress (thus the move to Los Angeles) but fell in love with yoga after my teacher training. My teacher and mentor, Maty Ezraty, saw something in me that I never would have. She immediately put me on the schedule at Yogaworks as a graduate teacher (I was terrified) and it all drew momentum from there. To this day, if she hadn’t forced me into teaching I’m not sure I would have ever felt ‘ready’ to take that leap.
At what point in your teaching career did you begin to travel, and how did that evolve into the full time travel/teaching schedule you have now? How does the traveling impact your own personal yoga practice?
I started traveling in 2007 and it was just going to be a few times a year sort of deal. Before I knew it a few times turned into double digits and then almost every week. It wasn’t desired or planned, but there is so much desire for healing, love, fun and yoga in the world that it doesn’t feel right to turn it down.
My personal practice has taken a major blow from all the travel. It’s difficult to maintain any sense of routine with my schedule so my 2 hour daily practice has evolved into ‘get it when I can’. At first it broke my heart (and my ego). Once I realized I was still doing yoga everyday, just more in my words than my physical body, it gave me more peace. I still miss the old days of just going full throttle, but that’s the beauty of yoga—it evolves with you, your life and whatever phase you’re in.
In the yoga world you are known for teaching challenge poses and arm balances. Where does that interest come from and why are those poses important to your own personal practice, and the practice you share with others?
I love the challenge poses because of their effect on the mind and ability to empower. So many people just say ‘no way’. They don’t ever give themselves a proper chance to progress and grow. It’s symbolic of stunting your growth in all aspects of your life, not just the mat. It became my duty to help people do these poses so they can leave the studio and think, ‘If I can do this on my mat, what can I do in my life?’
Where did you come up with the title Aim True for your Gaiam DVD, and what does “Aim True” mean for you in terms of being a teacher?
“Aim True” is a long story, but in a nutshell, aiming true is my ability to stay true to my intention, desires and what makes my heart beat regardless of what others say or whether it’s easy and when I do this and try my best I’ll always hit my mark. I go around doing a talk on this in hopes to get people motivated to be happy and live their lives purpose. It seemed like the appropriate title for my DVD and what I want to offer.
What inspired you to begin your organization Poses for paws?
My dog, Ashi. She’s the love of my life and animals have always been a weak spot for me. It crushes my heart to ever see them in pain because they symbolize the purest version of love in the world. Giving back is so easy in yoga, so I knew I had to do something to help my four-legged friends out. It seemed like the obvious answer.
In what ways do you use your celebrity yoga teacher status to serve?
I serve by traveling around the world on a regular basis to share my Aim True message and postures that empower. I also write on a regular basis sharing my experience in hopes that others can relate and feel inspired. I keep it real. Honestly, I don’t think there’s such thing as a ‘celebrity yoga teacher’. We’re not celebrities and anyone who gets caught up in that needs to check themselves. We’re people who are lucky enough to live our passion and share it. The fact that I have a large platform to do so with makes it even more special.
What goes into your planning of retreats & workshops for your students?
I try to choose exciting, beautiful locations for retreats that I’ve never been to or simply love. Places where people can relax and be mesmerized. For workshops, I have certain studios that I return to on regular basis because they’ve become family and every year I try to hit up cities or areas of the world I have yet to visit. Slowly but surely trying to get everywhere!
What has been the biggest challenge and the most rewarding part of teaching yoga?
The most rewarding part is easy: the look on people’s faces and the light behind their eyes when the experience happiness and empowerment. There’s nothing like it. The gratitude I get from my students could feed me forever. I love seeing us all connect and get on the same page. The hardest part is it’s non-stop. There’s no such thing as a holiday or weekend. I’m seeking the perfect balance of living my life, taking care of myself and my domestic life but also getting out there to make a huge impact. One day at a time
Questions from our readers:
Do you ever feel like being a celebrity in the yoga world hinders your ability to maintain balance and a solid foundation personally, and also in your teaching? – Claire K.
I really don’t consider myself a celebrity in the yoga world, but I am grateful for the platform to share my message. I find that people are effected as much as they want to be. My foundation is unbreakable thanks to my parents and upbringing. All the lessons I’ve learned along the way as a student and teacher, both positive and painful, have only made my teaching stronger. It’s often difficult to endure the opinions of others that have never even met me, but I know there’s powerful medicine behind every comment if I’m open to receiving and growing from it.
If there is only one piece of advice you can give to a soon-to-be yoga teacher, what would it be? – LuLu R.
No rush! I would have told myself the same thing. I notice a sense of desperation in many new teachers these days. They have no idea how to ‘make it’. Step one, don’t sweat that! Just get out there and be an amazing teacher. You can do this by being yourself and letting go of the blue print of success from anyone else. People want to learn from YOU and not a version of someone else. If you’re doing this, you’ll get to amazing places all in due time.
What is your favorite music/ favorite songs to teach to/ practice to – Sheena L
I don’t teach with music, but I often like good upbeat music at home. I’ll throw on music when my energy levels are down. Anything with a positive message and good beat does the trick.
Is this amount of travel what you would always like to do, or do you see your career morphing into something with less travel? – Brittany G.
Less travel for sure! I’m enjoying it now but I miss my fiancee and dogs horribly when I’m gone. I’d like to have a family eventually and don’t want to be the mother who’s never around. That being said, I’ll always travel every year, it will just slim down. My goal is to write more books, eventually get a teacher training in the works and find ways to have people come in my direction. And whatever other magic might be in store!