Everyday Goddesses is a series of posts I'll be writing here, profiling women in my life who embody strength in everything they do- on and off the mat. Katie is best known in the Just Be community as "Kickass Katie", and for good reason. She's strong as can be, and unabashedly so. Although she does have an irrational fear of bears, she's not afraid to show her true colors and express who she is. She has an incredible talent for teaching people of all ages, and uniting a community together for a cause- singlehandedly creating a consistent series of benefit based yoga classes at Just Be on Friday nights, organizing a "Sacred Circle" for a retirement home, raising money for a family in need, and raising three kids who are just as expressive and authentic as she is. Katie was one of the first women to come to mind for the Everyday Goddess series, and I was honored to have her be a part of it.
Are there any particular struggles in your life that led you to yoga? How has your practice helped you overcome these obstacles?
At the time I came back to yoga I was on a soul searching and nurturing journey. It had begun this journey after I had my third child. I found myself overweight, physically uncomfortable, mentally broken and my personal relationship with myself, my family and my husband all a complete mess. The first step was choosing to love myself first. That step was made by feeding my body food that would foster health. Then came sharing that love with my family. Next came goal making. And soon after that I decided to venture back into yoga which I had only ever slightly tested the water of over the previous years. I knew I loved it, but I didn't know that I needed it. After my first class back (which I completely bailed and knocked someone else over in) I was alive. THIS is what my soul needs.
Through the next few months I made it to as many classes as possible. I often would find myself melted to my mat, tears rolling down my face. My body physically pushed to its limits and my heart unleashing unspeakable pains I was carrying around with me. Each class I grew physically stronger but that wasn't the reason I would return. It was my church. It's where I could lay my soul on the table with unconditional love around me and grow. Really truly grow. I found myself able to find balance. When I would get hit with a bout of bipolar madness I could go there and ride the waves. It didn't fix the problem, it just helped me find ease through the pain. It became a reliable friend. Rather than a glass of wine to heal my aching heart, a hour of vinyasa flow would provide what I truly was in search of at the bottom of that glass.
How have you changed as you've gained both physical strength and mental resilience?
The strength from yoga is a gorgeous ebb and flow. Its a matter of acceptance really. Here I am. I practice yoga and I want to expect that I will become the most bendable person because of my dedication, but the fact is I am built with this bone structure and I have limitations. I can now accept that my practice is mine alone and it is not to be compared to any other journey. Some days I show up on my mat with the power to move mountains, or at least ease into a decent backbend;). Other days my body requires great care and caution in movements. The practice is removing my ego from the situation and getting out of my own way. The benefit of all the hard soul work that we do on our mats does come across in physical ways but a new light shines from within. One that may have been dimmed over the years. I feel beautiful because I am strong and I am who I truly am. I finally see the love and light within me.
Do you see the pursuit of strength as one more women are being drawn to? Do you think more women should emphasize this pursuit?
The pursuit of strength in woman is growing in its confidence. I believe we are all looking for something more. Something to push us from mediocrity and it can be incredibly scary. I also see more and more woman striving to push for change. I also see more and more woman stepping up to the plate. Providing sacred spaces for each other to delve into this pursuit. My life has guided me to a place where I am surrounded by unbelievable powerful woman who have goals for uplifting their communities and the world.
Do you have any examples of moments when the lessons you've learned in yoga have transferred into your every day life?
The lessons I learn in yoga really are the lessons of my life. The ability to step back and breath rather than react. The knowing that we are all one and connected, we have more in common than not. We are all battling something and need compassion. We all have so much on our plate and not enough time, and yet there is always a way to make space. Even when I am driving in my car I imagine all that love light shining from my heart and I send it off to anyone who looks like they could use a smile. When life gets rocky I can find grace and ease with my breath, with my heart open. I can get comfortable being uncomfortable and also support others in their struggles without losing my own power. This energy that connects us together and provides support and uplifts us is there for the taking. The magic of life is right here and right now in each and every moment and all we have to do is accept it. Yoga really has taught me how to not only live and love myself, but how to be alive and awake to the experiences beyond the physical. This is what I strive to share.