Every yoga journey is different; this one is just mine.
I’m Kate, and at age 39, I’m starting a new chapter in my life. In a couple of weeks I’ll complete my 200-hour yoga teacher training and become a registered yoga teacher. The classes began in November 2020, but the journey began decades before that.
Growing up in New Jersey in the nineties, yoga was not really a thing. Dieting was, and fitness. We move our bodies to sculpt our bodies, I thought. In middle school I signed up for aerobic step classes, and in high school, I had a boxed set of Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo videos. I counted calories and hollowed out bagels before it was even a thing.
Senior year of college, still keen to keep myself as thin and shaped as possible, I stumbled upon Bikram Yoga. A studio opened near Holy Cross, and word spread across campus. Yoga in a heated room that made you sweat buckets? Surely that was the secret to staying skinny. And it worked – I was never in better shape at that point in my college career. I also fell in love with the routine and repetition of Bikram’s 26-posture series. Every class was exactly the same, a predictable hot & sweaty gruel that I could get through if I just kept myself disciplined enough.
I didn’t know it at the time, but my carpool buddy for those early Bikram classes would, 5 years later, become my husband. We dipped back into Bikram classes when and where we could afford it through our twenties. I was a work-study student at the studio in Harvard Square, helping to maintain their website in exchange for free unlimited classes. I loved it, but it was a time-consuming and expensive habit to keep up. I’d go for 5 classes a week for months at a time, then fall out of practice as life got in the way.
Yoga became more mainstream, and I became a mom. “Bikram” fell out of favor, and my body fell out of shape. By 2015 or so, I didn’t want anything hot, sweaty, or sports-bra requiring. Life at home with two toddlers and a fledgling web development business was hot and sweaty enough, I was lucky if I found time to hop on the elliptical at the gym a few times a week.
I was working a corporate job in New Hampshire at a sprawling office park when yoga found me again. The company announced that a teacher would be visiting once per week, and employees could signup for lunchtime classes. Desperate to double-whammy my scant time away from the kids, I was quick to sign up, and I fell in love. Those lunchtime classes introduced me to vinyasa yoga, Sanskrit names for poses, and the almighty shavasana pose, which I used as a much-needed midday nap.
The teacher who taught those classes was so self-assured. She brought readings that she’d read while we lay in corpse pose, on the corporate berber carpet. I fell in love. I started to see her as a guide, a model of a life well lived. And I saw those weekly yoga classes as a delicious respite from my crazy work-life balance as a young mom and web worker.
I started to seek out yoga on the weekends and in the evenings, and learned poses beyond the Bikram 26. I found that terms like “restorative” and “yin” would not push me through multiple downward-dogs and vinyasa flows. As my experience grew so did my preference – I sought out the “crunchy” more meditative studios where I’d find a pause from life rather than a push to sweat and burn. My yogic personality started to open up to me, and it was life changing. Through moves and career changes, yoga became a constant that I could turn to to turn it all down for a little while.
And then COVID-19 hit, and I found myself packing up my little family of 4 for a move more drastic than I ever envisioned. Our attempt at city living in downtown Jersey City was all the sudden no longer viable, and we had decided to relocate to South Florida, where we knew about 4 people, all of them in-laws. We didn’t know where the kids would go to school, who we’d hang out with, or how we’d spend our weekends. Really the only thing I did know was that yoga was available in Florida, and that I would be able to continue my practice there just as I had in NJ and MA. It was like yoga was my one rock and constancy in a time of such crippling uncertainty.
I started sampling outdoor classes almost immediately after moving, and loved the rare social time within quarantine. A place where yoga could happen outside all year round? It was like heaven. And then I started seeing ads for a yoga teacher training program, and I signed up. I had little outside commitments other than my family and web work, here was something in-person and real that I already knew I enjoyed. Why not?
Yoga teacher training at Breathe Salt Yoga in Jupiter has truly transformed my life. Not only have I become physically stronger and more flexible through the intensive training weekends and regular practice hours required of a teacher in training, I have also been exposed to Eastern philosophies and ideas that provided immeasurable comfort in this great upheaval of 2020. From the Bhagavad Gita, I learned to see the interconnectedness of all life. From the chakra system, I learned to look for the ways I block key emotions. From the small group of women I trained with, I found friendship and camaraderie that didn’t revolve around motherhood, work or “going out”.
I decided, midway through the training, that this is my truth, my calling. I’m midway through a transition away from building and supporting websites and towards building and supporting healthy bodies and healthy mindsets by sharing yoga and meditation with others. And I’ve never felt more natural at what I’m doing. This is my true yoga and meditation journey.
That’s why I started Pause with Kate – to provide an online home for sharing my passion and my journey with the world. I hope to use this space to bring the healing and transformative power of yoga to others, like that corporate yoga instructor did for me back in NH. I can use my computer skills to digitize the beach classes and green backgrounds that abound in my new home and share yoga flows and meditation mantras outside of Florida. It’s a journey that I’m only just beginning, but which I have great hopes for. Yoga and meditation helped me find my truth, and I want to help others see theirs through movement, breath and mudras, too.