Katherine Schaefer

Katherine Schaefer showing the anatomy of a skeleton

Hometown: Farmington Hills, MI

Who or What inspired you to be a Yoga Instructor: I was talking to my second yoga teacher, Karen Farkas and I casually mentioned that I would like to be a yoga teacher someday. A few months later Karen needed a sub for some of her classes and she asked me to sub. At first I was reluctant but she encouraged me to do it so I said yes. I had been practicing yoga for 3 years and found the practice to be both invigorating and relaxing and loved sharing it with my friends and family. In my mind I thought maybe I would teach in 10 years but subbing for Karen led to teaching 2 of my own classes. I was invited to teach at the Power House Gym in Livonia and a group of women at a church in Detroit.

Describe your style of yoga: I call my yoga classes Integrated Yoga because I combine yoga with other movement methods. Over the years I have practiced and studied many styles of yoga and movement methods such as Body Mind Centering and Continuum Movement. My classes are a combination of yoga poses, somatic awareness and developmental movement. I use traditional yoga props and other props like foam rollers and various balls to help raise awareness and create balance and support in the body.  

What’s your favorite yoga pose ? At the moment I would choose baby dancer’s pose (Natarajasana). I like it because it’s empowering and it incorporates balance, a hip flexor stretch and a chest and shoulder stretch.

What brings you to the mat? The remembrance of how good my body and mind feel after I practice.

If you teach, where? Before the pandemic: West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation, Karmanos in Farmington Hills for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers and at Karma Yoga (now in Bingham Farms) for The Yoga By Design Foundation for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. I also teach privates, workshops and enrichment programs. During the pandemic: I am currently teaching a few virtual Zoom yoga classes.

How has being a member of YAGD has helped you in your yoga career: I was invited to join YAGD by my first yoga teacher, Khaya Davidson in 1996. I find the organization to be a supportive group of people who are open to learning new information and generous in sharing what they know with others. YAGD has always supported my teaching and also the workshops I teach and host with yoga teachers from around the country.

 Do you have a favorite yoga story, from your teaching experience? The first yoga class I taught was as a sub for my teacher, Karen Farkas at Schoolcraft College. I gave myself plenty of time to get there but when I got to 275 traffic was at a complete stop because of an accident. The drive usually took 20 minutes but that day it took an hour and 20 minutes! I ended up being 20 minutes late to my first class! I ran into the class which had 20-30 students there patiently waiting. I kicked my shoes off and threw my mat down. One of the students said “Don’t worry she’s not here yet.” I said “Yes, she is and it’s me!” I apologized to the class and told them about the traffic problem. I was relieved when a few students arrived late and verified my story.

Is there anything else you would like to add… like family.. Hobbies.. Karma yoga..or, other professions? I have one son who I am very proud of. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two cats. They run a nonprofit theatre there which produces Science Fiction and Fantasy for the stage.  If you’d like to check out the interesting things they produce, their website is: www.otherworldtheatre.org    They have online content now due to COVID-19.

 I also have two sister kitties who provide much needed anxiety relief during the challenging times we are experiencing.

In addition to teaching yoga I am a massage therapist, Reiki practitioner and Vedic astrologer. I organize workshops with teachers that I admire like Arthur Kilmurray, Doug Keller, Carrie Gaynor and I am looking forward to hosting Donna Farhi in October of 2021. Hopefully we will be able to gather for yoga events again in the near future.

I am also a political junkie and a precinct delegate in Farmington Hills. I like to read non fiction books about history and current events. My hope is to see progress for equal rights and justice for all in my lifetime. I am currently reading White Fragility by Robin Diangelo which requires a lot of self reflection on my biases and how the power structures of our society have benefited me. This is deep work that requires honesty and uncomfortable feelings which I believe is also related to yoga. I highly recommend this book to all white yoga teachers and students. Doing this work will create a better, more equitable world for all beings.