Sunday 22 May 2011

Carolyn Anne Budgell: Teacher of Honesty

~May/22 /11 Interview ~


1) How old were you when you took your first yoga class? Explain your first impressions.

I was 19 years old when I took my first yoga class (it was a two month sessional in Whistler) with Leslie Young. What I remember most fondly was farting in Trikonasana. I don’t think that has happened in a class since.

I have no idea how or why I chose Leslie Young and why I chose to commit to a two-month introduction instead of just a drop-in class but I tend to jump right in to ventures and activities.

I was completely unaware at the time, but the precise way in which she taught the basics of asana with a focus on alignment eventually propelled me into this style of teaching.

Beginning my practice surrounded by the Cascade Mountains created a ripe environment for yoga to also become very sacred. A quiet solitude envelops much of the Sea to Sky Region and yoga helped me tap into this peace while living in such a transient town during an emotional time in my life.

2) How long did it take for you to realize that yoga might be a forever thing? Describe what it was about yoga that first drew you in?

I took the sessionals with a girlfriend who had expressed to me throughout that she wasn’t really feeling yoga as a fun pastime nor form of exercise. And this shocked me because it felt so natural that I couldn’t consider any other reaction than to be curious about future classes and experiences.

This was the summer of 1999 in Whistler and I used to ride a longboard skateboard daily. Thus, skateboarding was where I first noticed a huge change in my balance. Not only is skateboarding down long hills a thrilling time, but realizing that yoga created huge shifts to improve my balance and the ride was amazing!

3) How long did you practice for before getting the teaching itch? Who inspired you to be a teacher?

I think I realized 4 years into my practice that I wanted to teach. And then 10 years in, I completed my 200 hr YTT. I knew I had a lot of things I wanted to finish before I started teaching yoga-my BA at SFU, but mostly I wanted to spend a lot of time in a personal practice before I could even think of guiding others.

I’ve never thought about who inspired me to be a teacher. I have focused more gratitude and thoughts towards those who have inspired me to be a better human. But for teaching, perhaps it was Cathy High (who gave me the opportunity to take care of her children and listen to her yoga music CD’s while she traveled the world to train heehee). Perhaps it was Alli Warnyca who (in response to my statement “I think I’m too messed up to start teaching”) encouraged “Carolyn, you grow with your students as you teach. Work through your fears and emotions by teaching. No teacher is perfect.”

4) Did you ever in a million years see yourself as a yoga teacher? What did u used to want to be when you grew up?

I have always wanted to teach, whether it be to sweet little babes in daycare, piano lessons, to community members on how to rehabilitate and preserve the environment or teaching yoga – all of which I have done. I have always wanted to teach. And I have this Type A personality quirk, which pushes me to always try and get what I want.


1) Where have you traveled to train? If you could do a sun salutation, right now, anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I have traveled to California, across BC for various retreats and workshops, Paris to study with Elena Brower, New York City to study with Ana Forrest, David Life and Sharon Gannon, Seattle to study with Ana Forrest. I would like to salute the sun in Norway or New Zealand or Japan.

2)What is the funniest/weirdest thing you've said while teaching?

Last week I said “If a little baby walked into the room right now, would it cry because your face looks so scary and mean?” Laughter is great medicine while in balancing poses.

3) What's your fav yoga book at the moment?

I have many favourites. But right now I’m reading Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith. Anything written by Georg Feuerstein is right up my alley, an academic at heart.

4)Name one thing your students don't know about you. Like if you announced it in class, they'd be surprised!

I’m extremely blunt, honest and open while I teach. My greatest inspiration for this method of teaching is Ana Forrest. She reminds us to be in the moment and raw while teaching, as the emotions our students work through are certainly not always flowery and sparkling. I feel that my regular students wouldn’t be surprised by much that I might say.

5) What do you do while your students are in savasana?

I silently thank God and the yogis in the room that we all rose to the occasion and showed up to class.

6) If you could invite anyone to your class, who would it be?

My whole family in the same class.


1) What is something you're working on right now on your journey?

I’m trying to cook more, waste less of everything and travel more. Yoga is a part of all these things.

2) What does yoga mean to you?

To me yoga is mastery over the breath. The asana and movement is simply a means to that end. Humans are capable of greatness but the creations of our society are often a hindrance and a distraction to our success and our ability to love others. So to me, yoga is having a good time, sweating, transforming our bodies, peeling away layers of negative self-esteem, fears, doubts, anger, ego, meeting new friends, listening to sweet music and in the end, we are able to sit. We become able to observe the breath. We are able to find compassion when your friend or a complete stranger is hurting inside or hurting you. The breath truly brings us into these moments with a presence that is strong, adaptable and loving.

And as yoga continues to grow as a path towards truth for many beings, there are those who see it only as a work out, or for financial gains. So we must remember, why do we do this? And if it all changed and disappeared tomorrow, what would remain?


1) Viewed any good flicks lately? Heard any good tunes lately?

I have a new secret agent man who provides me with good music. I just listened to Pomplamousse and I have yet another female voice to obsess over.

2) Where can we find out more about you and your teaching sched, so we can feed our yoga crush on you! Haha