10 Things You Didn't Know About Kat Fowler
The more yoga classes you take, the more yoga teachers you experience. There are some teachers you only practice with once, some you really connect with, some you don't, and a few, if you're really lucky, leave an impression on you forever.
Kat Fowler falls into that last category.
I first took Kat's class about 3 years ago in NYC at Pure Yoga. I had just moved to the city and was desperately looking for a studio to call home. Pure Yoga East was just down the street so I thought I'd give it a try.
Now, let me start by saying, I was spoiled. Pure East has some of the best, most knowledgeable teachers I've ever encountered. I took my time and experienced as many of the teachers as I could, seeing which ones really resonated with me.
After my first class with Kat, I never looked back.
No seriously, for the 3ish years I lived in NYC, whenever I carved out time for a yoga class, I always went to Kat's class.
I've been a student long enough to notice the difference between a teacher who helps you move your body to feel good, and a teacher who helps you experience and learn about life as you move through the poses.
There is a difference.
And Kat my friends, helps you experience life.
She has this amazing gift that I hope to provide to my students someday.
It has been an honor to take her classes, so I just HAD to introduce you to her!
Check out my interview with Kat down below to get to know her a little better, and for my yogi's in NYC, I highly recommend attending one of her classes.
You won't regret it.
TP: How did you find yoga? Or rather, how did yoga find you?
KF: I was raised within the context of Eastern spirituality, not the physical yoga practice like you see now, so I was raised around that and raised vegetarian. I say my parents are borderline Hindu with how they are in their marriage and how they run their life. That was the context of how I was raised, but you know how when things are given to you freely you don’t really appreciate it, so in my teenage years I strayed away from it completely, I was pretty wild, and didn’t realize what a gift I had been given at such a young age. Then I fell in love for the first time. It was long distance, then it became internationally long distance and it couldn’t last and I was heartbroken. That’s when I went to my first asana class, there were like 5 people there and when I was in savasana I heard a voice saying very clearly that this is what I was meant to do. At that time social media did not exist, so to make a living off teaching was impossible, but I had this strong calling inside of me and so I followed that. I bartended to pay for my first yoga teacher training. I didn’t know where it would take me but I knew I had to follow it.
TP: What does your yoga practice look like?
KF: Primarily self-practice but what that looks like has shifted so many times. In the last year, it’s really taken a turn away from the physical practice and more towards the emotional and spiritual. I can’t tell you the last time I actively took a class at a studio. When you're tuned into what you need energetically, you can focus on that solely in a self-practice better than a class could at that moment, but I’ll pop into a friend's class every once in awhile or if I’m looking for some extra inspiration. So my self-practice is different every day. Sometimes I’ll do 3 sun salutations, a hip opener, a restorative backbend and a 25 min savasana. I assess my energy and my needs for that day and go from there. I never just go, ok 1 hour, go, make it one hour. If I have only 20 minutes in a day I’ll say ok, what do I need right now? And do the poses I need.
TP: What is the biggest lesson you've received from yoga?
KF: The grounding factor. It brings me back to what is real and what is really inside and what’s important. It reminds me that we’re here for a deeper purpose than just the physical.
TP: What would you say to someone who's on the fence about starting a yoga practice or a little confused about yoga in general?
KF: When people ask me this question I think it’s a timing thing. I’ll hear stories of people who started 2 years ago and hated it or stopped, I think it’s because they weren’t ready for it yet, or they didn’t have the right teacher. I have a lot of friends outside of what I do and I always leave the door open but never push them through it. I’ll offer things up about how it makes me feel good but the timing has to be right on their end. I’m never trying to sell it, it’s deep on it’s own, if they’re interested they will walk through themselves, it’s a timing thing.
TP: What is your favorite yoga pose and why?
KF: Handstands used to be it because I thought I would never be able to do it. But now it’s restorative fish. I like to think of it like this, when I’m laying down on my back in a pose that is pretty vulnerable, your not activating anything so it reminds me of a lake and it’s like the water around me is pretty muddy, and the deeper stuff starts coming to the surface. This pose helps me release the stored emotional stuff. I’ve had many cry sessions in this pose. It’s been really healing for me. Also, savasana…it’s totally underrated!
TP: What is your least favorite yoga pose?
KF: Chair Pose. I just hate it. Anything that’s strength based that you’re just holding I hate it, but especially chair pose. I know I need it but I just won’t do it at home in my self-practice.
TP: As a yoga teacher myself, I've been reflecting more on what my role as a teacher is, what my purpose is during class for my students - what's your take on that for yourself as a teacher?
KF: My mission as a teacher and what I want to offer up is constantly evolving, but in general it’s to hold space for my students and to facilitate the experience for my students so they can dive into themselves and into the poses to experience it for themselves. It’s about what the practice has given me so that I can offer that to my students – that’s why I say it is constantly evolving. It depends on what I’m getting, in that moment, as a teacher and student of yoga myself. The best teachers are those that are offering up what they know and have experienced from an authentic place.
TP: What do you think are the top reasons that keep people from starting a yoga practice?
KF: For dudes, they think it’s too feminine and I’m like no, no! In the coastal cities like NY, Miami, CA, it’s more progressive, but for men in general, they think it’s only for women until they take a class and realize it’s definitely not. There’s also this stigma where people think they need to be predisposed to flexibility or that yoga is going to be slow and boring – for those people I always recommend either the most fun class or soul cycle type of class so they can start there.
TP: Have you had any "ah-ha!" moments from teaching that you could relate back to life?
KF: Yes, I think the biggest one was realizing that generally we are all going through something and that’s why we show up. That’s why we all come to class. When you can be doing anything (especially in NYC), there’s a reason you come to yoga. Everyone’s going through their own personal thing at the moment, some are better at hiding it than others but it’s what makes me love what I do. It’s what makes us all human, and as a teacher it’s me going through my stuff, rising up, and then I can offer help to those going through it too in my class. So yes, the biggest “ah-ha!” moment for me as been that, that there’s always a reason why someone comes to class.
TP: What advice would you give to someone who feels stagnate in his or her yoga practice?
KF: I love this question because I like to say that the first 2-3 years in a yoga practice is like the honeymoon phase. It’s so good like you can’t wait to hop on your mat and you’re trying all these new poses and you’re super in love. Then at like 3 years you start to go through cycles, and you have parts where you still love it passionately and others where you just can’t stand the practice. So if people come to me and say that they just don’t like yoga anymore, or that they aren’t really getting much out of it anymore, I tell them to take a break from it, give it space, or do something else that makes you feel different. Sometimes when you take time off and remove yourself from it, you can get a fresh perspective. It’s like when you travel or take a vacation. So if it’s not inspiring to you, take time off and revamp.
Kat Fowler is a New York City-based yoga teacher known for her lighthearted and inspirational style of teaching that encourages personal expression, inner connection, and courage through movement. She teaches classes and teacher trainings in New York City at Pure Yoga and Yoga Vida, privately and online.
Learn more about Kat at katfowleryoga.com