Katie Baki's All About The Backbend (And Practice, And Patience...)
If you follow Katie Baki on Instagram, you're used to a feed full of light. Her images toggle between otherworldly illumination, industrial edge and a laidback, Los Angeles-inspired sensibility (with all the essential beach shots you'd expect). Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, she's now a full-time Californian. Her credentials include an E-RYT 200 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher with 200 hours of training and 1,000 hours of teaching) as well as complementary studies in reiki and yin yoga. After you fall for Katie's inspiring Insta feed, find her at Y7 Yoga Studio in West Hollywood or Silver Lake, or book her for private yoga or reiki sessions.
When you’re not practicing yoga, what are you up to?
I love being outdoors -- the beach and hiking. I like staying active and supplementing my yoga practice with Barry's Bootcamp and Soul Cycle. I love music. I'm always listening to music, discovering new artists, and creating BOMB playlists for my classes. I also have two kitties who I love spending time with, and recently I've been getting into photography.
Are you into crystals? What's your fave?
YES!! Oh I could go on and on about crystals. I have favorites depending on my mood! I am drawn to amethyst when I feel overwhelmed; it calms me. I also love selenite to cleanse my aura and release any negativity that may be surrounding me. I also wear an onyx ring for protection. I have crystals under my pillows, my windows, in my car, in my handbag lol they are everywhere!
What’s your favorite natural scent?
Peppermint oil. It is SO invigorating and helps soothe my muscles when they are sore or achy. Also, when I get headaches, I rub peppermint oil on my temples and the base of my neck, which helps relieve tension headaches.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and your yoga practice?
It all started in college when I signed up for yoga as class credit one semester. I was immediately drawn to it. I then started practicing Ashtanga yoga during grad school to help relieve stress. I was working on my master's in clinical psychology and loved how the two were so similar and how they intertwined. I then participated in my first yoga teacher training and fell even more in love with the practice. After I received my master's I decided to teach yoga full-time and moved to Los Angeles! It's definitely and ebb and flow: At times, I find myself immersed as a student and wanting to learn, do trainings, and study... and there are also times where I fully embrace being a teacher and sharing my knowledge with others.
If you were to choose a pose that’s had the most meaning or impact for you, what would it be?
I LOVE backbends. I didn't always though. I had a wrist injury several years back-- and that hindered me from arm balancing and inversions, which I spent a lot of time on. Well during that time, I began to work on my backbending practice instead. At first, I loathed it. I wasn't good at it. It didn't feel the best in my body; however, the more I practiced, the more I began to open. Backbends have helped open my heart and they remind me to practice self-love. Now my body craves them. They feel SO good to me physically, but most importantly -- mentally.
What parts of the body does this pose particularly focus on?
The spine, the shoulders, the hip flexors. The HEART.
How would you teach others to practice this pose?
With patience. So much patience. Be easy on yourself. Don't rush these poses. Let the bend come naturally and just keep practicing. Yin yoga helped me open up-- it's good for connective tissues like your ligaments, tendons, and fascia. I would practice yin nightly. Also the wall. The wall is the BEST prop in my opinion. Backbending against the wall can help immensely.
Thanks to Katie for sharing her insights! Follow her gorgeous feed @katiebaki on IG and check out her site for more details on where to catch her teaching: www.katiebakiyoga.com