How long have you been teaching yoga?
Since May 2014.
Why did you become a yoga teacher? Who and/or what are your biggest influences?
Becoming a yoga teacher was a domino effect. I had been practicing yoga sporadically for three years at studios and at home. Then I found Pulsation Yoga, and after a while co-owner Kathy suggested that taking the Yoga Studies program would be beneficial, since I was always asking questions after class to deepen my yoga understanding. I decided to go all-in and take the Teacher Training, though not to teach—just to really immerse myself in the world of yoga. It wasn’t until after the training ended and I was a registered yoga teacher that I thought about actually teaching. A fellow Pulsation teacher asked me to sub her class, and I absolutely loved it. My family really encouraged me to take the leap and become a teacher, and the training I received from Kathy resonated so much with me.
How has yoga helped you to be a better person?
I am not sure if I am better, per say, but I feel different. I feel calmer, more grounded, more content, and happier. I feel more connected to life.
What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?
I aspire to teach with a beginner’s mind. I guide each student safely and compassionately, and invite everyone to experience yoga as empowering, fun, and joyful.
What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?
Heart, knowledge, and skill. I think it is especially important that when a teacher is speaking, they really connect with each student, whether they are talking about the theme at the start of class or making adjustments during practice.
What was your most challenging teaching experience?
My first time teaching. I was nervous, yet excited. I was prepared, yet I overcompensated with copious notes. It was both challenging and enlightening. I really hope I have more days like that.
What do you recommend to the beginner student? To the seasoned student?
For the beginner student: Practice on the mat with a variety of teachers, and practice as often as feasible. I have learned so much from each instructor because they each have something different to give.
For the seasoned student: Take a beginner-level class once in a while and really listen to the instructor. Going back to the basics brings you closer to your authentic self.
How do you take your yoga off the mat?
Every day, I find myself using the tools of yoga that I have been given: breathing, connecting, non-judgment, getting grounded, being present…so many things.
What is the one pose you are most proud of getting into?
I am most proud of getting into Warrior 1. There is a lot going on in Warrior 1, and whenever I would attempt it, a lot of emotions rose up in me. It was a struggle to even stand firmly grounded. The first time I got into Warrior 1 where my body reacted with confidence and beauty, I knew I had found my heart in the pose. I knew my yoga was working.
What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?
I do not have a favorite time of day. I have had amazing practices early morning to late evening. Every day, my body responds differently to the practice, so I mix it up and find that the class I chose to attend was exactly the one I was meant to do.
Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?
I went to Europe for a month with family, and while I only practiced on the mat once, I took my yoga off the mat every single day. Navigating foreign lands proved to be a bit daunting at times and caused me to be somewhat hyper-vigilant. Remembering to breathe helped me to center and be more present and mindful, which allowed me to experience everything to the fullest and safely. However, I did keep up my asana practice in front of the Colosseum, Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Stonehenge, and over canals in Amsterdam and Venice!
What is your favorite music to listen to while practicing yoga?
I have a huge variety in my iTunes, and I play them during my classes. If I had to pick one genre, it would be classical. Though in my classes, you could very well hear Ray Charles, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Frank Sinatra, and the soundtrack to Royal Tenenbaums.
What else do you want students to know about you?
I am an avid reader and I love music, photography, and cooking. While I am a serious student of yoga, I have a playful side, and whether I am practicing on the mat or leading a class, both sides show through.
Why do you love teaching at Pulsation Yoga?
Pulsation Yoga is an amazing studio, and guided by the passion of Kathy and Jim, it has taken on its own positive energy. Without fail, every class or workshop I have attended has helped me feel more and more a part of the Pulsation Yoga community. To have the opportunity to teach there, along with being a student, has only increased the benefits yoga has to offer.
Katherine Okon teaches at the Pulsation Yoga studios in Arlington Heights and Lake Zurich. Check out the class schedule to attend her classes at either location.