kate lombardo: head teacher at yogarenew
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Kate Lombardo is a woman of many talents; she’s been a yoga instructor for more than ten years, as well as a very successful entrepreneur. If you ask her, though, her favorite job is being a mom.
Kate has a lot to teach us about the impact Yoga can have on our life. Her story is an inspiration to us here at YOGI TIMES , and it will undoubtedly be for you, too! So, let’s dive into this exclusive interview with Kate Lombardo.
Q – What influenced you to start practicing yoga? Where did it all begin?
Kate Lombardo – When I was 22 years old, fresh out of college, I experienced an unexpected health issue that turned my world upside down. At the time, I was living in New York City, trying to start a career as an actress (which meant waiting tables at a restaurant!), and my lung spontaneously collapsed.
I ended up needing emergency surgery and had a 5-day hospital stay. Unfortunately, this was pre-Affordable Care Act, so I had been dropped from my parent’s health insurance when I graduated from school and didn’t yet have a job that offered insurance. As a result, I was left with bills that rivaled my student loans.
During the physical and mental healing process, I wandered into my first yoga class at a local gym. That first class, my body felt weak and tired as I moved through the poses, but then we got to Savasana.
The teacher kept telling us to focus on inhaling and exhaling. For the first time in months, I finally felt like I had control over this thing that had literally failed me– my breath.
This became a catalyst for starting the healing process, both physically and emotionally. Yoga has been a constant in my life ever since.
Personal Yoga Journey and Growth
Q – What springs to mind regarding the transformative effect yoga has had on you, be it physically, mentally, or spiritually?
Kate Lombardo – Obviously, the early healing experience through my lung collapse and the subsequent soul-searching relative to my career was huge. Another time I relied on my yoga practice was during my journey into motherhood, which wasn’t as smooth as I had expected.
I was pregnant with my first child in late 2019, and despite having an overall healthy pregnancy, I struggled with really terrible pubis symphysis dysfunction.
In simpler terms, my pelvic bone separated too soon, which was extremely painful. By 20 weeks, I was no longer able to physically practice yoga, so I had to entirely rely on the meditation parts of my practice.
This was devastating for me at first but ended up being incredibly important.
I was 36 weeks pregnant on March 14, 2020, when police officers came into our yoga studios and closed them down because of Covid.
Hoboken, where I live and work, was the first place in the USA to do this– before NYC.
Soon after, the government announced all visitors were banned from the labor and delivery floor of clinics.
At one point, even support partners were prohibited; for a time, I thought I’d be giving birth alone.
I ended up switching doctors and hospitals two days before my son was born because the hospital I was supposed to deliver at was overrun entirely with COVID-19 patients and wasn’t safe for me to go to.
I suddenly lost my business and the “normal” experience of transitioning to motherhood that I had imagined.
Thankfully, by that time, the spiritual part of my yoga practice was so strong that I was actually emotionally stable during a time of extreme fear and grief.
Yes, it felt like everything around me was falling apart as I was bringing this little human into the world.
Still, I would sit on my mat daily and breathe, connect, and lean into the trust that everything would be okay.
And it was– my son is beautifully healthy, and my husband and I got to spend every moment of those early months with him and adjust to becoming a family.
Although we lost our studios, we ended up with YogaRenew, which has exceeded my wildest dreams.
Yoga was the thing I relied on to get me through all of this, and I don’t think I’d be where I am today without it.
Q – What does yoga represent for you on a personal level?
Kate Lombardo – Ahh, such a good question! Can I answer “Everything?” Haha.
If I had to dilute the sentiment, it would be freedom, connection, and trust.
This practice gave me the freedom to fully embrace a lifestyle that makes me feel like my most authentic self.
Thanks to yoga, I can create a career doing something I love while maintaining the flexibility to be home and available with my children when they need me.
Yoga has connected me with the most authentic parts of myself and built connections with like-minded people in my community.
I have met some of my closest friends during yoga training or classes, and I am forever grateful.
Yoga has also been the thing I’ve returned to during the most challenging times of my life. It allows me to find space to put things in perspective and trust that everything will be okay.
Becoming a Yoga Teacher
Q – What inspired you to become a yoga teacher? What have been some of the highlights and challenges on your journey to becoming a trained professional?
Kate Lombardo – After my lung collapsed, I was desperate to find a sense of stability. I took a job with a traditional schedule that would give me all the “normal” things— a paycheck every two weeks, paid time off, and health insurance.
As relieved as I was, I vividly remember that the moment I signed my contract, I thought to myself— “this will never make you happy; you’re meant for more.”
I ignored that little whisper from the Universe, but it was right.
For the next 5 years, I woke up each day and lived a life that didn’t feel like my own. I was bored, uninspired, and surrounded by a toxic environment of colleagues who liked to complain about how much they didn’t like their jobs.
Thankfully, I continued showing up on my yoga mat. I’d come to class and lay in Savasana and ask the Universe what I should do to find more alignment and joy.
One day during Patrick’s class (my now-business partner, so crazy!), I got the answer: “Teach yoga.”
I spent my entire walk home from his class strategizing on how to afford teacher training and signed up the very next day.
My training was 10 months long and lasted the entire 5th year at my job. A few months after graduating from teacher training, I quit my job to go all-in.
Teaching Philosophy and Style
Q – What are your core values when it comes to teaching yoga?
Kate Lombardo- My personal “why” as a yoga teacher is that I want people to walk out of my class feeling happier than they did when they walked in. I try to create an environment that fosters that experience by being warm, welcoming, and playful in my teaching.
I also feel a deep desire to honor the sanctity of the practice and the lineage it comes from. Over the years, I have committed to honoring that by studying the alignment system of the Iyengar tradition and applying it to the vinyasa style I teach.
It’s important to me that I’m not just casually throwing things into my class “just because” but instead creating classes with intention that honor the practice and also helps to keep my students safe while they’re having fun and moving their bodies.
Using the physical asana practice as a vehicle for self-exploration and connection is another of my core values.
I want my students to find space during class to reconnect with themselves and find a sense of freedom from the chaos of their thoughts.
Q – What makes your teaching style unique?
Kate Lombardo – Vinyasa yoga has become a catch-all for any style with flowy sequences. As a result, there is often not a ton of consistency in the sequencing style of vinyasa yoga.
Over the years, Patrick and I have worked to develop a style of vinyasa yoga that is rooted in the Iyengar alignment system.
In every class you take with us or the other teachers at our studio, you’ll find fun, flowy vinyasa classes that intentionally incorporate a specific focus on alignment and instruction, all geared towards preparing you for a challenging peak pose.
Q – How do you continuously expand your knowledge as a yoga teacher? What does CPD look like for a yoga teacher with your expertise and stature?
Kate Lombardo – What’s terrific about yoga is that there are always teachers who know more than you, so there is always more to learn.
I consider myself a yoga student first because if you stop being a student, I don’t think you can be an effective teacher.
I continue to attend classes, workshops, and trainings with teachers who have more expertise in areas I want to expand my knowledge on.
Sometimes, I take the Continuing Education courses with YogaRenew. Joe Miller, who teaches our Anatomy Course, and Julie Pasqual, who teaches Philosophy, are experts in their fields.
These aren’t my areas of expertise, so I love studying with them.
YogaRenew and Online Yoga Education
Q – As lead yoga teacher at YogaRenew, what does a typical day look like for you?
Kate Lombardo – My days often change because of all the activities related to YogaRenew. Most of my days combine teaching and working on the business side of things.
Usually, I’ll have a morning meeting with our core team to review the content we’re putting out for our digital audience: blogs, YouTube videos, social media posts, and new courses.
Then, I spend time creating a lot of that teaching content. Sometimes, that looks like recording videos for our courses.
Sometimes, it’s recording talks and lectures for our YouTube channel and upcoming podcast.
On other days, I teach classes for our streaming platform. I’m also lucky enough to work out of our studio headquarters, so I get to take a mid-day class with one of the fantastic teachers on our team.
Q – What are you most proud of as a part of the YogaRenew team?
Kate Lombardo – I’m most proud of offering top-notch yoga instruction at an affordable price point in an accessible format. Students consistently tell us they’ve dreamed of becoming a yoga teacher but could never afford to attend a training that costs thousands of dollars.
Often, they live in an area with no studios available for them to study at.
Our team is passionate about creating more accessibility, and I’m so proud that we’re bringing that into the world.
Q – Can you describe how it feels knowing your work and contributions have helped thousands of students worldwide pursue their passion for and deepen their expertise in yoga?
Kate Lombardo – It honestly still blows my mind, and I wake up every morning with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
To be able to connect with students from every continent in the world (maybe minus Antarctica) is the greatest gift. It helps make this world feel smaller when you know so many incredible humans want to study this practice and share it with their communities.
Q – What are some benefits and challenges of teaching yoga online? How does YogaRenew address these challenges to provide a rich learning experience?
Kate Lombardo – Before we put out our training online at YogaRenew, Patrick and I owned brick-and-mortar yoga studios.
It’s so interesting because I think there is often a stigma in the yoga industry about online training. Having taught in both in-person and online training, though, there are indeed benefits and challenges to both.
With online training, students can revisit lessons over and over, which isn’t something you can do in an in-person training session. Once you start teaching yoga, some of what you’ve learned in training lands differently. Being able to go back and re-watch a lesson you were unclear about is so valuable.
Moving through the training at your own pace is an invaluable benefit.
You can spend more time reviewing subjects you’re interested in, or that confuse you and do so on a schedule that works for your personal life.
Regarding teaching, I connect with people worldwide and share what I love. Teaching is no longer limited to four walls in a studio; this opens up a world of possibilities.
A big challenge of teaching online is the inability to give or receive live feedback. During in-person training, we can spend more time providing hands-on adjustments to help students understand the alignment of poses, which is really helpful.
We also can’t answer questions in real time for all students, which is another challenge. A student may watch a video we’ve made and be confused about something that we could easily clarify if they were able to ask us a question.
Usually, they send their question to us via email and wait for a response. That immediate feedback component is definitely more straightforward in in-person training than online.
Q – What are your thoughts on the evolving trends in yoga education and the central role that technology and accessibility have to play?
Kate Lombardo – It’s been fascinating to see so many people embrace online learning to further their yoga education. While we do find there are people within the larger yoga community who feel differently about this, I think that is decreasing.
The ability to practice and learn online allows us to connect with teachers and students we would never have otherwise been able to meet.
This level of accessibility only creates more opportunities for expansion and growth. Embracing that is a beautiful thing.
YogaRenew – Impact and Success Stories
Q – It goes without saying that Yoga Renew has seen tremendous success and is experiencing continuous growth at a local and global level. With that in mind, can you choose 3 words to describe YogaRenew’s impact on its students?
Kate Lombardo – It’s very clear for me! Community, Opportunity, and Accessibility.
Q – What is the most inspiring success story you have experienced so far?
Kate Lombardo- We partnered with a beautiful organization– Faith in Children– that works to help students in Malawi and Congo through their Mindfulness Education Program.
Teachers at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi were given scholarships for our training.
They now share their teachings with children in Malawi. We’ve received videos of the children making the best of these practices, and it’s one of the most heart-warming things we’ve seen.
Teaching Challenges and Insights
Q – Given your commitment to the profession, you have faced your fair share of challenges. What are some of the common challenges yoga teachers face?
Kate Lombardo – For me, the most prominent challenge yoga teachers face is creating a sustainable career without experiencing burnout.
Even though yoga is a billion-dollar industry, many teachers need help to build a sustainable income.
Early in my teaching career, I worked 2-3 freelance jobs to help pay my bills while managing a full-time teaching schedule. I loved it, but I was exhausted.
It took years of commitment to learn about entrepreneurship and marketing, as well as a lot of trial-and-error, implementing what I was learning before earning a sustainable income as a yoga teacher.
One of my biggest passions now is helping other yoga teachers learn what they need to do to truly build a business and career as a yoga teacher.
Advice and Inspiration
Q – Do you have any tips or words of encouragement for individuals starting their yoga teacher training?
Kate Lombardo – Remember that this truly is a lifelong journey. You only need to know 10% more about a single topic than the people you’re teaching for them to learn something, which means you’ll always have something of value to offer.
Q – What do you wish somebody had told you at the beginning of your journey?
Kate Lombardo – Teach what you know. You can’t immediately be as knowledgeable as the teachers who trained you, and that’s okay.
This journey unfolds in magical ways when you embrace where you are at the present moment and share and teach from that space.
Q – Where do you find inspiration as a yoga instructor?
Kate Lombardo – Once yoga becomes a significant part of your life, you find inspiration everywhere because you see life through the lens of yoga.
Q – Have your sources of inspiration evolved over time?
Kate Lombardo – I have two young children at home– my son is 3, and my daughter is 11 months– so much of my inspiration comes from time spent with them.
Watching them discover the world with such openness and purity is so beautiful.
So much of the yoga practice is about helping us get back to a place of presence and truth, and my kids do that every day without even trying.
What’s Next for YogaRenew
Q – Talk us through YogaRenew’s vision for the future. Should the readers keep an eye out for any upcoming, exciting developments?
Kate Lombardo – Yes! We plan to continue to put out high-quality education for our community in our courses and training, but also in the free content we offer.
We’re planning to roll out a podcast in the next few months and continue to expand our YouTube channel.
Additionally, we launched our online streaming platform– YogaRenew online– last year.
We will continue to populate that with workshops and training that are all included in the price of the memberships, which is currently just $9.99 per month.
Eventually, we want to take all the knowledge we’ve gained and offer a tech platform that will help other teachers set up their online businesses with our support, which is really exciting.
Q – Are there any upcoming events, workshops, or resources at YogaRenew that the readers don’t want to miss?
Kate Lombardo – We just launched our newest training– the Vinyasa Sequencing Lab– which offers our signature step-by-step process for sequencing classes.
Patrick and I are the teachers in that program, and we’re so excited to share it because it’s the exact process we use to sequence our classes, which we’ve developed over years of studying.
We’re also planning to offer a full 85-hour Yoga Alliance-approved prenatal yoga course soon, which is exciting.
And then, of course, we have ongoing workshops and events offered in person at our headquarters, YogaRenew Hoboken. It’s always so much fun when students who’ve trained with us online come to meet us in person and practice at the studio together.
Is there anything we haven’t spoken about that you would like to mention? Perhaps some further insights or messages for the YogaRenew and wider yoga community?
Kate Lombardo – I think the only other thing I’d like to say is that for any yoga teachers or potential teachers out there asking themselves, “What’s next?” or “How can I grow?” my answer would be to keep learning and connecting.
Keep investing in your growth as a teacher and entrepreneur. Serve your students and focus on creating connections within your own communities.
It happens student by student, class by class, until there’s a ripple effect and you realize you can change your world with yoga.
And that concludes our interview. Thank you so much for your time, Kate. Your responses will provide so much value for all the budding and/or established yoga instructors.
I look forward to sharing this insightful piece with our collective audiences. It was a pleasure to pick your brain and to learn so much myself.