July 1, 2011

Kathryn Budig Wants You to be True To Yourself (And Maybe Try Her New DVD). ~Alden Wicker

Photo: still from her new DVD

Sparkly yoga pants? Heck yeah!

If you were at the recent Yoga Journal Conference in New York, you probably saw Kathryn Budig. Well, not necessarily in person. Her larger-than-life likeness was on full display at the Gaiam booth in the Yoga Marketplace, balancing in a pose that I am not familiar with, and will not be trying at any point in the near future. Of course, she had a big smile on her face.

That large poster was a promotion for her new DVD in collaboration with Gaiam that comes out this September. In between visiting studios, teaching an all-day intensive, and meeting up with old friends, she had a long round of interviews with writers like me, shepherded by a Gaiam representative. I snatched the opportunity to sit down with her and ask her as many questions as I could in a half-hour period.

Read on to find out how she deals with criticism, why she’s backing away from asanas, and that a happy person in sparkly yoga pants is a person she wants to hang out with.


Alden: OK, so tell me about this new DVD.

Kathryn: It’s called “Aim True.” The whole idea is a fresh young approach, a more playful version of what’s on the market right now. There’s two sequences on it: a beginner sequence and an intermediate sequence. It’s meant to challenge and demystify the postures at the same time. I didn’t want anyone to feel threatened, but I wanted people to feel challenged.

There’s kind of that mystique surrounding yoga, that serious air where it’s all calming and it’s all subdued, and – you know – the bowls playing in the background. I’ve been often told that I have no filter. Not in a bad way!

I want my students to feel like they connect with me, like they can ask me anything they need to know, and I want people on this DVD to have the same feeling. There’s no guru mentality. It’s just like, “We’re in this together.”

Are there any poses you’re working on or trying to improve right now?

Backbends in general. I do a ton of arm balancing; it’s what I’m known for. But the backbends have always been physically challenging for me, and there’s the heart-opening aspect and the surrender that’s needed to go into the depth and strength of these poses. So it’s been a nice physical and emotional journey.

Do you ever get frustrated with your practice?

Oh yeah! Not as much as I used to. When I was younger I wanted to come and conquer. The physical postures…I still enjoy them, they feel amazing, but I’m unattached to the results. I’m more interested in the experience every time I step onto the mat and what it’s going to bring up for me. So it’s not that I don’t care about asana anymore, but I don’t have goal poses anymore.

How does that mentality translate to some of the beginner yoga participants, like the ones using this video?

In the beginning of the practice, asana is really exciting. So I would expect people to come to me and say, “I want to learn how to do this, this and this.”  And I embrace that. But what I try to teach them is that it is a journey. I tell my students, “Don’t mark your calendars. Get excited, have goals, but don’t mark your calendars, because everything is going to happen when it needs to.”

I want them to understand – each time you screw up, each time you succeed – it’s all part of your recipe for success. So I’m hoping that they won’t become frustrated even if they have a horrible practice. That they’ll go, “Wow, I really needed to have a horrible practice today. Because it’s going to open up my mind to what is going on, or it’s going to make me more present, it’s going to make me more connected.”

What would you say to people who have a really stressful job and kids, and they say, “I just don’t have time for yoga?”

There’s no such thing. Life is hard. Period. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 kids, it doesn’t matter if you are a single woman. It’s a choice, it’s our attitude, and it’s our perspective.

It’s not necessarily the cards that get put in front of you, but how you decide to play them. You can say, I have sh*t cards, this sucks, I’m going to lose. Or you can get creative and all MacGyver-style and come out on top. So it’s all in the attitude.

The Gaiam representative takes this opportunity to note that the DVD would be perfect for someone with not much time.

Oh yeah! The first practice is 25 minutes, and even if you can do five minutes out of 25 minutes, that’s better than nothing at all. I mean, it’s baby steps.

You travel a lot. How do you carve out time for yourself when you are on the road?

I love my job. I love what I do. Yeah, it can be draining, but it’s cultivating love all that time and it’s cultivating energy.

I have no reason to complain. I get to wake up every single day and do what I’m meant to do, what makes my heart beat. So when I think of it like that, it’s hard to get down or feel tired or feel old. Because I think of all the people who hate their jobs, or are doing something simply for a paycheck. It’s like, I’m getting paid, and I get to travel the world, and I get to meet people all the time, and I get to help people.

Maybe I should do even more!

How do you prioritize all the requests you get? Do you have to say no often?

I’ve had to start saying no more recently, which is kind of weird for me because for so long everything was “yes,” even the stuff I didn’t want to say yes to.

But there is something kind of satisfying about saying, “No, it’s okay.” It is kind of hard when it’s a studio that wants me to come and teach, and it’s like “Oh, well, how does 2012 work for ya?” Because I want to go and share yoga with as many people as I can…but being respectful of my boundaries, and my health, and my social life, and that I have friends and family and maybe eventually a man.

So you’ve been called a style icon—

Yeah, that’s so weird.

So tell me how you got there.

I’ve always had style since I was a little girl. I used to be an actress, so playing dress up was kind of a job for me. I spend so much time in yoga clothes, that I was like “Oh, I would like to at least feel kind of stylish.”

I do it for me; it’s fun. It’s a confidence thing, especially when you get in front of a group of people, you wanna feel good. And I like things that are sparkly. I’m a girl. I always go for the sparkly thing on the rack.

But how do you reconcile that with letting go of the ego?

As you know, the yoga community can get a little severe at times. At the end of the day if what makes you happy is to put on a pretty outfit, you should do it.

And because you are happy, it’s going to make you nicer to other people, and more passionate, and be more real. And if you are doing something because a society or ideal tells you to, then that goes against my mentality, which is “Aim True”, which is what the name of the DVD is.

So if you love sequins you can wear sequined yoga pants, even if someone is going to be like “Wow, look at you, you have an ego.” I would much rather be with a happy person in sequined pants than some grumpy person who is wearing all eco-friendly clothes.

So tell me about a time you’ve been on the receiving end of criticism and how you dealt with that.

I’ve been there before.

The thing with criticism is that you have to see where it is coming from.

And you can’t ever take it personally, because often it is coming from a place of deep personal hurt from the person is giving it. And it’s not saying, “Oh, I’m above everything.” If it is constructive criticism, fantastic. But if someone is just being nasty, I can choose to listen to that and have it effect me and second guess myself. But as long as I wake up every day and know I’m doing what I believe in, and I’m being that person I want to be, and if the entire world hates me, it sucks, it’s painful, it hurts, it gives me anxiety – but I’ve got to stick to my guns.

Has criticism become more prevalent as you’ve become higher profile?

It happens. And friends and clients have warned me about it. They say, “The higher you get, the more people that are going to come out of the woodwork, and it gets nasty. You have to develop a really thick skin.”

My skin has definitely gotten a lot thicker. I used to be super sensitive.

You’ve said that mistakes are how you learn and grow. Tell me about a mistake you’ve made from which you grew?

One? {Laughs} I made a mistake with a man. [Click here for Kathryn’s writings about life, yoga, relationships] It almost entirely changed who I am. I had a long year of personal getting to know myself work. I think that every hiccup and horrible choice that we make ultimately is a catalyst for deeper work and assessment.  Of course, it’s horribly uncomfortable. The deepest growth usually comes from the places we can’t wait to get out of. {Laughs}

And it’s nice to think that way when you’re going through something difficult, because you’re able to think, “Someday this is going to serve me.”

So it sounds like you might be ready to let someone else into your life.

Yeah, I think I am. I’m totally open. I think schedule-wise, he would have to be very understanding. But I do want a partnership with someone someday.

What are your plans?

I would love to keep writing, work on some books. I would love to keep working with Gaiam, they’re an amazing company. I love them. I do want to keep up with the travel – not at the level I’m at right now – because I will burnout eventually.

So are you going to contribute more to Elephant Journal again?

{Laughs} Did Waylon tell you to ask that?


There will definitely be contributions. Not at the level of before, but definitely. I love Elephant. It was one of the first places I started writing. It was very maternal for me at the time.

Read 9 Comments and Reply

Read 9 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Alden Wicker  |  Contribution: 3,700