This post first appeared June 7, 2012 in Elephant Journal as Show Up, Smile & Get Naked.
You’ve probably heard the name before. Kathryn Budig is the naked chick in the ToeSox ads. Some of you might want to hear me spiel about that so let’s get it out of the way: The ads are sexy. They get your attention. They are meant to sell shit. If you bought yourself some ToeSox because you thought the chick was hot and not because you thought sticky socks might take your practice to another level (they won’t), you’ve got some figuring out to do. Meanwhile, Kathryn got some pretty photos and made a little money.
She’s a great business woman. Aside from her various endorsements she has a DVD that sells, a book deal, and she travels the world teaching sold out workshops. Getting naked is just one of the many ways that Kathryn has built her brand, and building her brand is what has allowed her to make a living out of teaching. We, her audience and students, still get to decide if her teaching is any good.
It is. Every famous-teacher-type winds up with some kind of shtick. Kathryn’s is “Aim True.” During last weekend’s five workshops at Yogani Studios, she walked a packed house through “how to figure out what makes your heart beat.”
The phrase “Aim True,” comes from a prayer to Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt. Kathryn gave us a snippet of the poem:
Make my aim true. Give me the goals to seek and the constant determination to achieve them.
Allow me the strength to be my own person not defined by the expectations of others.
The actual prayer is a bit sexier, but this bit gets the point across: Figure out who the hell you are, and then go out there and be the best, most successful you that you can be. Kathryn seems to be doing a good job of this herself, and she’s out there trying to get others do the same.
Part of figuring out who we are in life is doing things that make us uncomfortable. That’s why yoga can be such a wonderful self-exploration tool if you’re doing it right. If we are vigilant in those moments of discomfort and fear, we can discover things about ourselves. Sometimes the things we find are ugly, but the first step in fixing those things is recognizing them. To battle them takes confidence and persistence.
Fast forward from the “Aim True” opening workshop on Friday night to “Flight of the Yogi” on Saturday morning. Time to try the stuff that seems impossible. Kathryn has a gift for making students feel relaxed and unafraid to approach difficult, seemingly unattainable postures. She gives her students the tools to “feel” the pose — even if that means using the wall or having a knee down. Like how she got a bunch of us into Visvamitrasana with a knee down AND a strap. But, hell I felt it! I know exactly what needs to be strengthened and stretched to make that pose happen (in about a hundred years).
From there, you try to bring the lower leg out into side-plank position.
Kathryn reminds us: “If you’re not getting the daily result, keep showing up. Your practice will prove itself to you.” It takes years for 99% percent of us to get something like ‘good’ at yoga. And often, that 1% who show up and make it look easy right away have had training as dancers, gymnasts or the like. So, stick to it. It’s going to be frustrating sometimes but it’s so much more exciting to accomplish something that you had to work hard at. And sometimes, we need to follow Kathryn’s advice to “Be cocky and pretend. You need that energy to complete it.” We’ve all heard the adage: Fake it till ya make it. Well, it works. Smiling when you don’t feel like it sometimes accidentally makes you feel happy. Thinking you can do something sometimes helps you do it. She’s right that the energy of that can-do thinking gives you very real can-do energy. That energy isn’t just for your mat, it’s for life. But in yoga class we get to practice for real life. So get on your mat and tell yourself you are a bad ass. Again and again and again.
Kathryn’s Big Book of Yoga comes out in the fall. And Florida folks, I’ve got good news: she’s joining our ranks. We hope her impending move to the Orlando area with her beau and one time sky diving instructor means more workshops for us.