Kate’s Thoughts on Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana: “Love love love Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana. I’m a huge sucker for backbends and heart openers, and when combined with some hip flexor and shoulder opening, I’m in heaven. It’s such a perfect pose for this time of year when the weather starts to change and things get hectic — we get a little stressed out and tend to subconsciously hunch and turn inward. This pose helps shift the energy to a more uplifted and external place.”
Raise your hand if your first yoga class ever was at 6am. If you are Kate Brigham, than your hand is most definitely raised. Not only was her first yoga class at that special, special early time of day, it was lead by our very own Mimi. We should call that combo the Rise and Shine. Clearly it charmed Kate enough to come back again — thank goodness!
Before turning her attention to yoga, Kate had spent many years in the ballet and dance world. What she enjoyed about O2’s fluid, vinyasa practice was that it contained the flexibility and even some element of choreography that she loved in dance but with a chance to channel her energy in a more self-reflective way. “I loved the lack of mirrors,” Kate said. “It was a good way to turn inward and just be, as opposed to the intensity of ballet and modern dance where you are constantly competing, comparing, and striving for perfection.” Yoga doesn’t ask you to be perfect — yoga asks you to be present. It’s one of the most gratifying parts of having a regular practice: knowing that simply being in the room, moving and breathing, is enough.
What brought Kate to teaching, though, was her desire to break out of her daily routine and mix things up a bit. “I wasn’t crazy about my day job, my choreography wasn’t feeling inspired, and I just needed something to shake it all loose, so to speak. I heard about teacher training at the end of a class and decided I’d apply — it seemed wildly interesting and I figured it would be a good way to learn more about something I’m passionate about,” she said. With an extensive background as a choreographer, Kate had a propensity for understanding movement and, as she says, “Anyone who has met me would agree I also very much enjoy telling people what I think they should do” (wink wink), so all of those elements blended well with choosing to do Mimi’s 200-hour Teacher Training in 2012. Kate said, “I realized that here are all the things I love: yoga, helping people, creating interesting movement, and bossing people around. Maybe I can pursue teaching!”
And pursue teaching she did! After completing TT, Kate moved on to our Karma program, which is the internship we have for new teachers. “When I was accepted to the Karma program, I was thrilled, although Sarah [Wolf, Cambridge studio manager & fellow Class of 2012 grad] can attest to my high stress level at my very first class — after she told me we could go out for a drink if no one else came — when Elliott rolled in and I nearly died,” Kate fondly recalled. But she survived that first Karma teaching experience, post-class Elliott feedback and all, and eventually moved onto the regular schedule. “I started with the brutally early 6:30am Friday class in the newly opened Cambridge studio where I was initiated into teaching with the only two people motivated to come consistently at that time: [Class of TT grad and current owner of Riverside Yoga and Massage in Newburyport] Rebecca Sisson and Mimi,” Kate said. Besides that early morning time, she also taught an evening class that was back to back with one taught by Ann. “She would come and practice and it was invaluable in terms of feedback and helping push myself,” Kate said.
When she’s not teaching yoga these days, she’s spending time with her husband Jordan and their two absolutely adorable children, Riley Winter (3) and Jackson Thomas (nine months) while also working as the assistant to a “mad genius” entrepreneur/CEO in the tech world. Kate brings such a great air of creativity and humor to everything she does both in the yoga bubble and outside of it. It’s always music to our ears when she offers up her trademark, “This might be a little bit weird…” cue because we know that whatever will follow will be something absolutely tremendous. Thank you, Kate, for your generous spirit and for being beautiful light on our teaching staff.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Mimi?
“There are so many! I think a big one is that because there are so many ways to do good and make a difference, that you just find the one that is easy for you and do it. It’s different for everyone, so don’t worry about the ways that are hard for you — just find a way to spread light and do it. The second is the incredible power of community. Two years ago our family faced some overwhelming medical challenges in relation to our daughter Riley, and the kindness and generosity everyone at O2 showed was just earth shattering and really helped our family power through an intensely horrifying time.”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from one of our other teachers?
“Impossible to choose just one! Most recently I am wildly obsessed with Emily Reardon’s super interesting sequencing and unique cuing. I also love to pull an Annie Kiel and try to work a crazy arm balance into early morning Basics in a way that is (hopefully) accessible.”
What’s your favorite pose to teach?
“Probably hasta vrkasana, camel, or some bizarre variation of half moon (prefaced with ‘this might get a little weird’).”
What’s your favorite pose to do?
“Janu sirsana — I get super tight in the QL and hips due to an old dance injury, and the stretch feels so fabulous. Also any sort of backbend — they’re so energizing and just make me feel ‘right.'”
What’s your “dream pose?”
“That changes depending on the day, but probably hasta vrkasana to koundinasana and then repeat it again, and then vinyasa. I watched Michael Alba do it once a few years ago and it was a glorious sight to behold.”
Do you have a mantra or theme song?
“This is not particularly mystical, but I would say my mantra is ‘it’s better to be fabulous’ — a reminder that no matter what is happening, you can find some level of glamour and hilarity in it. Theme song is clutch, and highly dependent on my mood. It’s fall, so right now I embrace anything by Josh Ritter or Bob Dylan.”
Do you play music in class?
“I generally don’t. I love music in class, but I struggle to play it, because I tend to make the movement echo the music. It’s likely something I should embrace, however!”
Any fun facts?
“I have a very loud cat named The Baron, I love to travel, and I’m a huge Civil War buff who is looking forward to winter so I can binge the Ken Burns documentary without guilt. I will always go dancing, and I never turn down a glass of tea or wine.”