Have you ever met a person who put you immediately at ease? Someone who made you feel better just by their presence? For me, Katie Lane is one of those people. I met Katie in 2007 when she hosted Desiree Rumbaugh and over 50 students in Christchurch, New Zealand. Katie was incredibly warm and gracious. She managed to have everything flow seamlessly while making each one of us feel as important as the guest of honour.
In the years since that first meeting my respect for Katie has just continued to grow. In addition to being one heck of a hostess, Katie is also an amazingly gifted teacher. She is the only Anusara certified teacher in New Zealand and we are so lucky to have her close!
Katie came to Wellington in May 2010 with Clare Raffety for Wellington’s first ever Anusara experience. Her teaching is inspring, uplifting and impeccable.
I’m thrilled that Katie is coming back to Wellington for the weekend of October 30/31 to offer another Anusara workshop: Thresholds of Possibility. Please get in touch with me if you would like to book in.
How did you get into yoga?
My first exposure to yoga wasn’t on a mat, it was in a classroom! I studied theology and philosophy at university. I wasn’t a religious person but I was fascinated by the idea that each of us, despite our different ages, sexes, occupations, and cultures, seem to be searching for a connection outside of our individual selves to something bigger. My degree focused on “Religion & Culture” and I was exposed to a wide variety of Eastern religions and spiritual thought. Buddhism and Hinduism particularly drew me and the concept of yoga, a total union and oneness that could be realized and known NOW, was something that I wanted to explore. Yet while books, articles, and conversations stirred my mind, the experience I had of yoga in the “classroom” felt flat. There was something missing…It was still a few years before I stepped onto a yoga mat but the seed was planted here.
During challenging times in my mid 20s, that calling toward yoga mysteriously resurfaced. I was adamant that I needed to explore a physical practice. I researched and narrowed options down to two well respected studios in Washington DC. Both studios were devoted to one particular style of yoga. The first one was steadfastly Iyengar with a famous senior teacher, a solid reputation, and numerous accolades. Yet, there was something about the other studio that was compelling…Willow Street Yoga taught Anusara, a “newish” style that I had never heard of before. The look of their website was warm and inviting, hinting at a sense of real community, family. Even though I had to drive 45 minutes each way, I followed my instincts and enrolled in a 12 week session of Beginners Yoga there. After my second class, I started going to two classes a week, then three, then …
I’m a pragmatist. Anusara WORKS!
When I started yoga, I was living with back injury and chronic pain from a childhood spent as a competitive figure skater. Doctors had offered me nothing except a vague suggestion that surgery might help. I didn’t go to yoga expecting relief from pain and I had no idea that yoga could actually be excellent therapy…! In my very first Anusara class, I was taught the principles of muscle energy – engaging strength to create a boundary of support in my legs – and inner spiral – moving my thighbones in, back, and apart to create space in my pelvis. After that class, I left pain free. I woke up the next morning still feeling great. This was a big deal for me!
What I love about Anusara’s Universal Principles of Alignment is that they are orderly, progressive, and super empowering. Using the principles, I can be pro-active in my body and in my life. I’ve learned to become sensitive to what I’m feeling and then make skillful choices in my body, mind, and heart using these concrete tools. What’s also incredible is that the very same principles that brought healing to my body are also what take me further and deeper in my asana practice. Depending on what’s needed, I can step back to address a specific physical injury or limitation or I can step forward to play the edge of possibility.
On the deepest level, I love Anusara because we start with the intention to connect the physical practice to something bigger and in a celebratory way. It’s not just about engaging muscles to move bones or even moving the body in alignment with the breath. It is also about infusing meaningfulness into every part of our physical expression. I practice physically embodying the inner qualities, ideals, and values that I want to experience and manifest more of in my life. For me, it’s this making “physical” of my intention and meaningfulness that makes my practice transformational and joyful.
What we practice on our yoga mat sets the stage for how we live when we walk out the door.
What was your certification journey like?
Amazing! AND intense. I have never been one to do anything by halves. Within a year of regular practice, I enrolled in an intensive Immersion program and followed that immediately with my first (of many!) Anusara teaching trainings. Right from the beginning, I knew that I would head down the rigorous path to full certification. I travelled to study with John as often as possible. In 2005, I followed my heart (and a boy!) and moved to New Zealand. When I got here I was terrified…! I arrived as (and still am!) the only Anusara certified or inspired teacher. I was fearful of being without the support of my teachers and I felt such a tremendous responsibility every time I taught to represent this practice fully and authentically here.
I thought that distance would make the certification process much harder yet this proved not to be the case. However, it did require a high level of personal and professional commitment to get on my mat every day without a teacher, to keep up my study and my reading on my own, and to keep myself re-nourished and re-inspired without having easy access to continual support. John and the whole staff of Anusara were always willing to be there for me when I had questions, concerns or needed direction. My certification mentor, Elizabeth Rainey, was brilliant to work with. She offered spot-on constructive criticism while also illuminating and championing my greatest strengths. Taking the certification exam was a fantastic validation that WOW, I actually do know much more than I gave myself credit for and the video review process (while humbling) was one of the most useful tools for seeing my own teaching clearly.
The bar is set really high for Anusara teachers and the learning doesn’t stop once you get your certification! I still travel to study with John and senior teachers every year. As I write this, I’m on my way to my second Therapeutics Training with John in Maui. But this is really what I love – stepping up to meet the challenge of continual growth. The fact that growth is never-ending is what keeps me interested!
Which Universal Principle of Alignment and/or loop challenges you the most? How have you worked with that challenge?
When I first started yoga, my challenge was definitely shoulder loop and 1st principle. The very idea of softening and then actively working to open my shoulders and my heart was unbelievably scary. The structure of my body – the bones, muscles, and fascia – were literally bracing and hardening against the kind of opening that my teacher and this practice were asking of me. What got me through it was the deep longing I had inside to truly want to open and the unbelievable support of the kula, my friends in the Anusara community. Even though I wasn’t able to see it myself, through their presence and offerings of support, I was able to accept that there was beauty and goodness inside of me that was worthy of being shared with the world. My practice became the deepest affirmation and expansion of that worthiness. It gets better and easier every day!
Right now my biggest challenge is using my tailbone – outer spiral/pelvic loop. While “opening my heart” was about feeling and then trusting that I would be held by the support of something bigger – the universe, my teacher, my community, using my tailbone asks me to engage my own inner power to create a feeling of self support. Trusting in my own strength is still a challenge for me but I’m loving the process of learning to stand strong in who and where I am in every moment.
What has your Yoga Inventure revealed about who you are and what you want to do with the rest of your life?
Yoga was my route back to remembering my inner worthiness. When I feel this worthiness inside myself, a natural longing arises to want to care for myself in the highest way possible. And you know, I not only treat myself better but I start seeing and treating others with dignity, respect and love. I recognize this same essence and light inside of everyone. I never imagined that I would be a teacher of anything yet my experience with this practice compels me to share this process of reclaiming and celebrating worthiness with others. I want to help people remember that life is good and that beauty is everywhere if we soften our edges enough to take it in. Yoga has been the means by which I can sense a deep interconnection at the heart of life. Perhaps it starts by feeling connected in our body but it soon branches out to include everything, to our relationships on every level – to others, to our life’s work, to our natural environment. I strive as a yoga teacher to show others that they can have a dynamic relationship with their life. That we are not subject only to whims of circumstance but that there are skillful ways to participate with what’s being offered yet still effect change and create shifts through the power of choice and the setting of intention. And most of all, I am dedicated to reminding people (including myself!) that life is FUN and the yoga that I share in my classes will always be lighthearted and full of laughter.
Katie’s website is www.yogakula.co.nz