We had the good fortune of connecting with Cathy Woods and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cathy, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work life balance: how has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance?
“Balance… the key to living well” ~ Yogini, Cathy Woods
As a life-long yogi and horsewoman, inner and outer balance plays an important role in all aspects of my life. In fact, balance is one of my favorite words and, living a balanced life is the key to living well. Balance is not about extremes; it’s about moderation in all things.
I believe, as three-part beings, (body, mind and spirit), it’s important to nurture and keep all aspects of our being balanced. For me, that’s what cultivates inner peace, wellness and soul-contentment.
Self-awareness is an important tool when decerning what areas of our lives are out of balance. To stay truly balanced, I aim to devote equal amounts of time to all aspects of my life; work, play, family, friends, spiritual-life and personal wellness. Of course, as part of the human-condition, I don’t always do everything optimally all of the time and sometimes, I really have to be pro-active to keep the balance. For instance, I tend to be a bit of a homebody, so to create balance in that area, I make sure to implement plans that get me off my farm. Adjusting accordingly is paramount and sometimes, keeping the balance takes deliberate effort and mindfulness.
As life goes on, and my needs change, I course-correct periodically. Doing so helps me to live in a flow of grace by honoring what I need at the various stages of my life – this is also part of living in a balanced manner. What kept me balanced at age 20 is different than what I now require in my mid-50’s. Long gone are the days of staying up late and eating whatever I wanted; my fitness regime has changed as well as how I ride my horses. Gauging and adjusting my needs and lifestyle to my present life/situation is what keeps me healthy, happy and content.
I think about balance as two-fold (inner and outer). When teaching about balance in my equine and yoga programs, I talk about both. Most of us are familiar with outer balance; the type of physical balance it takes to stand on one foot. But in yoga we say, “When your inner is balanced, your outer is balanced and when your outer is balanced, your inner is balanced.” Both types of balance (inner and outer) reflect each other. If one’s mind and energy are unfocused, scattered or fragmented, i.e., out of balance, it becomes much more challenging to stand on one foot (or to accomplish much of anything else successfully). I often use the balance postures of yoga such as Tree Pose and Dancer as a gentle gage to assess if I’m in or out of overall balance in my life. Somedays, those poses seem easy and I feel I could hold them all day long, while other days, the same pose seems wobbly and shaky. When the later happens, I look inwardly to determine what in my life is imbalanced and adjust accordingly.
From time to time, I take inner-inventory, using the tools of meditation and contemplation to go within and really attune to my needs in regard to balance. Then, I do my best to create a path forward that leads to bringing me back to or keeping me in balance. I believe our inner voice speaks to us on our behalf – if only we take the time to listen and honor that inner knowing.
I encourage all to live in a balanced way – it’s part of, artfully, living well!
Cathy Woods, life-long Yogini, long-time Yoga Teacher/Retreat Leader, Horsewoman, Author of Yoga for Riders, Creator of Body, Mind, Equine ProgramsTM, International Clinician/Presenter. www.cathywoodsyoga.com
What should our readers know about your business?
What sets me apart from many is…
My brand and my work are truly a creative extension of who I am, what I believe and how I live my life. Living a “hand-crafted life” is paramount to me — living artfully, creatively and intuitively. I’ve been fortunate enough (and creative and persistent enough) to be self-employed my entire adult life which suits my personality perfectly!
I’m pretty much a life-long Yogini who embodied yogic knowing’s at a very young age and once I was old enough, I explored and nurtured that path in a deeper and more profound way, making it my lifestyle and naturally my livelihood!
The scope of my work has evolved as I have grown and evolved. What started out as teaching/sharing yoga, expanded to a 31-year career of being a yoga professional and international retreat leader. Then, 12 years ago, my passions of yoga and being a horsewoman merged as I created a program that combined the two. This organically transpired when I realized that what I was doing in my yoga, naturally transferred to my time with horses — such as body, energy and breathing awareness to name a few. These were all tools I was using in my horsemanship to be a better rider and partner for my horse. My program is quite practical (not just the flavor of the week nor is it about doing acrobatic yoga postures on horseback) and teaches equestrians of all disciplines how to use yoga postures and principles to improve horsemanship from ground to saddle.
I am where I am today by following my intuition, my passions and my interests, sprinkled with lots of dedication, effort, creativity, and trusting the process! It’s not always been easy, but I look at it all as a journey with no real endgame, which is exciting because that allows space to continue to grow and expand.
Challenges are part of any success story, it’s just a matter of having the determination to overcome them by finding creative workarounds! For example, since I was one of the pioneers in combining true yoga & horsemanship, the horse world was not quite sure what to think about it. Some thought it as, “fluff,” while others just did not yet see the parallels of yoga & horsemanship. It took a lot of convincing and being able to articulate why this concept works and why there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. At times, I still somewhat struggle with this today as many do when introducing new concepts. One important thing which was tremendously helpful is that my book, Yoga for Riders was published in 2020 by the leading and well-respected publisher of equine books, Horseandriderbooks.com. This has launched my work in a much larger way and has given it additional credibility — it has helped open up the equine world to this beneficial and practical pairing of yoga & horses. I offer national & international clinics, retreats, demos and talks about the subject at equine expos, ranches, resorts, equestrian centers and for private groups. Additionally, I now offer my work as an online course through a long-time riding academy called WeHorse.
Since I LOVE retreat leading and travel, one of my favorite parts of my work is curating unique experience (mostly for women) which combines, yoga, horse and life-enrichment skills with light adventure. My favorite yearly retreat is in Colorado every May at C Lazy U Ranch — it truly doesn’t get much better than horses, yoga and women’s empowerment all at a luxury guest ranch! Additionally, I am excited about planning an Icelandic, horse, yoga & cultural experience in 2023!
What I want the world to know about my story and my brand, is, it embodies authenticity and is as unique as I am! I toughly enjoy sharing about and seeing how the magic of yoga enhances lives on so many levels! Additionally, I enjoy seeing those, ah-ha moments when students really click with the message. My “work” if I can call it that, suits me on every level and that’s what I think a career should be about — I call it, “right livelihood!” and that’s when we know we’re in the flow of grace, when everything we do is simply an extension of who we are.
I’m leading a May Colorado Retreat at C Lazy U Ranch — Find Your Inner Cowgirl through Body, Mind, Equine. Here’s a link to the event: https://www.clazyu.com/
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, I live in the GREAT Smoky Mountains, so there is so much natural beauty that I love to share with friends and visitors and when I can do so by horseback…all the better!
Not many places to eat, drink and hang out in rural Appalachia, so spending time in nature is where it’s at when visiting my neck of the woods.
There are amazing trails, mountain lakes, waterfalls and white-water rivers to explore.
Fontana lake is the magic of the Smokies that many people don’t know about. It’s a pristine, 30-mile, mountain lake bordered by the Great Smokies National Park and not the part that’s frequented by tons of tourists! So, this is always a go-to when friends are visiting, along with a visit to Fontan Dam — the largest hydro-electric dam east of the Rockies.
Though not lots of restaurants in the area, there is a favorite watering hole of mine called Tapoco Lodge, a historic lodge situated on the beautiful Cheoah River. It’s a great place to grab a yummy pizza and a craft beer and sit riverside. Additionally, the Nantahala Gorge is a hub for kayakers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts in general. It’s fun to have a bite to eat at Rivers End and watch the rafters and kayakers play on the river.
Deep Creek (a popular section of the national park) provides easy hikes to three waterfalls, so I often take friends there who want a taste of the outdoors but not a full-on, backcountry experience. We usually top it off with a stroll around the quaint mountain town of Bryson City.
There is rich Appalachian & Cherokee culture in the area as well, so local art and history can be easily found in the region. Stecoah Valley Center is a gem in my town to learn and experience about the roots of our region.
Some of the small neighboring towns like Bryson City and Waynesville are charming spots to go to for a town-walk or a bite to eat.
It’s a beautiful and chill place to visit and I love seeing friends and family experience the magic of the Smokies!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a shout out to my amazing publisher, Trafalgar Square Books/Horseandriderbooks for taking a chance on me as a new author and publishing my book, Yoga for Riders. It means a lot and it’s helped take my work to new levels and to support more people though the power of yoga! Their encouragement and support helped give me the fuel to drive forward and seek new pathways to do what I do.