The yoga world can be very small when you are a woman of a particular size; suddenly, everybody wants to tell you about that one plus size yogi they know about and love! I can honestly tell you, I’ve looked at all those yogi’s social media accounts and none of them ever struck a chord until the wonder that is Kady Lafferty, aka Big Booty Yoga (on Instagram and Facebook). To me, she was so much more than just her “size.”
I was instantly drawn to Kady’s music choices, her voice, and above all her political activism. I first took Kady’s class at Red Rocks in 2017 — we say that casually because as Colorado residents going to Red Rocks every summer to greet the weekend is a routine. But seriously… she led 2,500 people at one of the most legendary music venues in the country! Kady says that she is “awestruck” of that experience. “It is the most amazing thing you could ever imagine, hearing 2,500 people breathing to your cue and the sound of it just reverberating off the rocks.”
Recently after an evening class, we grab drinks in a little dive off of Broadway. I ask Kady how yoga first came into her life; she painted a picture of her six years ago working in social work with highly traumatized populations. In this time, she had no self-care practices and found herself often times struggling with anxiety and depression. Her roommate at the time kept nagging her to go to yoga, but like many people, Kady had a preconceived notion of what people who practice yoga looked like and she didn’t feel like she fit that mold. Eventually, she caved to her roommate’s suggestions realizing that she needed to get healthy before she could really help others. Kady recalls struggling through her first yoga class, in a hot room, and it all being blur until she lied in savasana sobbing. She remembers feeling a huge emotional release and realized it was the first time in years she had spent an hour not anxious or worried, but instead, completely present in her body and breath. In that class the yoga instructor focused the dharma on transitions — which she was experiencing in her own life — and the class was focused on moving slowly, and being ok with things being different and difficult. She says of all first yoga class experiences, it was the perfect match. Kady was hooked.
Soon after, Kady became a member of the studio and started practicing six to seven days a week for over a year. After a couple years she inevitably took her first Yoga Teacher Training. It was around this time that her best friend since college, Claire (who is in marketing), said “You need to create an Instagram, because people need to know that big bitches do yoga.” Kady laughs, as do I. She was resistant at first, but eventually gave in and Big Booty Yoga was created. Sitting together talking, we both remark how even after years of practicing yoga we will have people assume that we are beginners.
Perhaps it is coming from this background of assumptions but Kady, more than any teacher I’ve ever practiced with, is hyper aware (in a good way) to creating an atmosphere that promotes body positivity. My second class of hers was an homage to Beyoncé in a class cleverly called: NamasBey. In this class I noticed how inclusive Kady teaches. Her class flows and postures focus on accessibility and set students up for success by offering a variety of ways to approach a posture and making good use of props. She is sensitive (not just to size) but to inclusive language and differing bodies in tightness and mobility — her classes “aren’t just for people with big booties,” as she would say.
Kady has grown alongside Colorado yogi giants like Katy Rowe, Christen Bakken and Christa Schwind, and now they are her counterparts as she teaches alongside all of them at The River Yoga Studio in Denver. In fact, Kady and Katy Rowe will also be leading the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training together this January at The River. In addition, Kady is working with Samy Mattei and has successfully written and submitted a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training to Yoga Alliance focused on inclusivity, making yoga more obtainable and accessible for every type of body, and preparing teachers for a variety of students. That training is set to launch in April of 2019.
Outside of trainings, you can take classes with Kady at The River Yoga and at Color Up Therapeutics where she hosts a number of events from music-themed classes to yoga and advocacy experiences in collaboration with SameSide. Her events with SameSide, aptly called Downdogs and Democracy, shed light on different social justice issues and give participants easy ways to engage in activism through contacting their representatives through text campaigns and postcard writing.
Kady credits her parents for her passion for social justice; her dad can often be found on his mat in her class, and when she thinks of her childhood she laughs talking about “cruising around in an old school Corolla and listening to NPR” (National Public Radio).
When I ask Kady about her big goals, her vision for Big Booty Yoga, she talks of “being a big player in creating a movement in the yoga realm towards inclusivity and social justice.” She recalls her first moment of true self-study during a yoga class: she realized how negatively she talked to herself in her mind and felt extreme compassion towards herself. From there, Kady started to actively shift the way her internal voice spoke and talks of releasing “old stories and old scars.” From the outside, she seems to be on a mission to heal all of Denver.
Being a big player in creating a movement in the yoga realm towards inclusivity and social justice.
If you are looking for retreats, Kady offers affordable and accessible retreats for everyBODY. You can find most of her events and retreats on her Eventbrite.
After drinks, as we walked back to our cars on one of the first truly cold nights of the season, we came across a charming building for sale. Kady walks up to it, standing on her tippy-toes and cupping her hands above her eyes to keep out the streetlight, and she peeks in the window. Taking a deep breath, she steps back and spreads her arms wide, almost like in the movies when the character sees their name in lights, and says, “I can see it: Big Booty Yoga, a studio on the bottom and I could live above it.”
Playing into the moment, I say with delight, “And I could teach there too!”
And she turns to me with a big smile and says, “Yasssss gurl!”
And I can see that happening someday, I really can.
Photo by Rae Scott Photography.
Karstee Davis is a writer and yogi living in the Boulder area. She has written for Folk Rebellion and for The Endometriosis Foundation of America. You can find her at www.purifiedoutlook.com or on Instagram @purifiedoutlook.