Core Integrity with Cat – Cat Woods

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Cat for a little while now and her personality beams such positive energy. As well as a beauty lover, she’s passionate about writing and exploring more about health and well-being. After reading this interview, Cat has given me a new perspective on the benefits and importance of the likes of yoga, pilates and barre. Trust me when I say that you’ll take something positive from this humble human being! 

Can you tell me a little bit about you, your personality, hobby and something that’s quirky or weird about you?

I’m all about creating and being curious. That creating may come in the form of writing, design, formulating wonderful ideas for business or personal projects or even choreographing a Ballet Sculpt, pilates or yoga class.

What made you start ‘Core Integrity with Cat’?

I’ve always written as a form of self expression and also as a comfort and a way to make sense of what I’m feeling, thinking and observing. I’ve always been an avid reader and deeply curious person too. I listen to podcasts, radio, read endless magazines and pay attention to media and what is happening around me. Core Integrity With Cat was my way of sharing what I discovered – especially in regards to fitness, beauty, lifestyle and well-being in general.

As a young woman living in Melbourne and teaching yoga, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I don’t anticipate any definite scenario in 1 year let alone 5! I would very much like to challenge myself to live outside Melbourne or even to just be travelling much more regularly. Ideally, I’d like to be working for myself and collaborating with really passionate, skilled people across design, communication, yoga, fashion, beauty and business. I always thought I wanted to run a studio but I think I’d really prefer to run retreats and events to enable greater adventure and exploration of all the fabulous places to go and learn about and be immersed in.

What is it about yoga, barre and pilates that interests you so much?

These are all very different disciplines but what unites them is the creativity and ability to constantly challenge the body and mind with alterations in actual poses and sequences, while sticking to the guiding principles. In pilates and yoga, that is the unity of breath with movement.

One of my class participants described my Ballet Sculpt class as “pilates on crack”. I can’t vouch for that personally, but there’s an enormous amount of variety and creativity in yoga and pilates and yet there should always be a confidence that the guiding values of those disciplines are underlying the class or practice.

What is your favourite yoga pose and which pose would you recommend for beginners?

I don’t really have a favourite pose – I do enjoy a back bend for the feeling of openness though! That might come in bow pose or wheel or camel.

What does it feel like being a teacher of yoga? – A fitness activity that is growing with popularity.

I haven’t considered “popularity” in any of my career choices, which may be to my detriment, but is perfectly true; I just do what I love. I don’t know how to answer “what it feels like”. I identify what I’m passionate about, then I endeavour to do it and try to work out how I can make it part of my life while still making enough to live. I guess it feels like doing what I genuinely want to be doing. I especially love that I’ll always be learning – there’s so many aspects to yoga that one lifetime isn’t enough to ever fully appreciate it. That probably goes for many things! I love that I am always going to be a student and a teacher. When I went to Barcelona a few years ago, I first emailed a studio to ask if I’d be able to keep up with the class in Spanish and the one line response was: “Dear Cat, Yoga is universal. Sincerely, Yoga Studio Barcelona.”

What I have studied in and what I love is a universal language – it feels like a license to find my roots and my home internally so that I can travel and go anywhere, anytime, and not be a total outsider.

From reading your blog, you’re very much spiritually aware however you’re also very aware with natural products that you use. Why do you choose to use natural products for your body?

I have to be 100% honest and say I don’t ALWAYS use all natural. I do think it is important to question the ethics and the quality of products and it so happens that the majority of products I am drawn to and love are produced with high quality ingredients, which more often than not are naturally and organically grown and produced. I have had skin problems as a teenager and that made me very conscious of what I use on my skin as it reacts with spots easily. I also have a very keen sense for feel, smell and aesthetics. The brands I use make a true effort with packaging, fragrance and texture of their products. Life is too short to use crappy, mass produced skincare and makeup that have no heart.

What are your favourite beauty/skin care products that you can’t live without?

Oh Vee, I could live without all of it; that’s very dramatic of you! I am all about cleanser though, as it’s the first thing I do when I wake up: wash my face and start my day. I love Sukin supergreens foaming cleanser but I’m also using Eminence coconut cleansing milk because it’s really gentle and smells divine. I adore Bobbi Brown foundation. It lasts and gives great coverage plus it doesn’t cause any blemishes, which so many brands do. I also love Illamasqua for the unique colours and their incredibly creative campaigns. Illamasqua introduced me to the wonderful, visionary makeup artist, Alex Box. As a teenage goth, I really gel with the idea of makeup being a colourful, vibrant and always transforming mode of self expression. I’m a sucker for OPI nail lacquer too. It could be the fabulous names.

Besides having balance and control of your body, what else has yoga/pilates/barre taught you about yourself? Physically and spiritually.

I don’t know about control of the body. I think that is an idea that is loaded with negative ideas. I see a lot of obsession around “control” of the body in the fitness and well-being industry and I think we need to relax the idea of controlling aspects of our physicality and allow that if we move with awareness for what we feel and listen to what our bodies are craving and respond accordingly, then we don’t need to approach the idea of “controlling” them.

I have had experience with being very obsessive and ritualistic in my exercise and it is exhausting mentally and physically to push the body to do the same things, over and over again. I can’t say I’m perfect, but none of the teachers I truly respect and am inspired by are 100% perfect and this is what makes them fabulous teachers. We must always be open to change and learning, but keep true to our deepest values and integrity.

I have learnt that I don’t need to push to the limit, sweat like a demon, do the same thing over and over again to be genuinely fit and adaptable to different fitness and movement disciplines. I’ve learnt that moving with rhythm and fluidity is really joyful for the spirit. I’ve learnt that change and variety and going to new and different classes or places can entirely change my perspective towards movement and teaching. I can’t emphasise enough that we need to get out of routine to really learn about the world and ourselves. I also think everything we do and learn in every aspect of our lives has relevance to our fitness and movement. For example, artists can really benefit from a disciplined practice with focus on technique (like clinical pilates) but also from a really creative approach to fitness, like trapeze or acrobatics or go-go dancing.

I’ve learnt that exercise isn’t a chore or a punishment and that there are ways to nurture and challenge the body in ways that are fun, sometimes frustrating (I really could use some more zumba practice), but that there’s so many opportunities to move and strengthen without sticking to the same grinding routine daily.

Do you have any tips for anyone who is making the switch to doing yoga or even doing it for the first time?

Not really. If you want to do yoga, there’s a reason for it so just be aware of what your reasons are. When it comes to doing anything, also, be willing to stick with it if you think it’s worthwhile. Keep in mind also, there are so many teachers and classes and styles of yoga. One class isn’t enough to decide whether it’s the right practice for you. Try as many different styles as possible and then commit to a regular practice and don’t ever be afraid to mix it up with whatever else you are keenly interested in!

Make sure you check out her website ‘Core Integrity with Cat’ and connect with on her social media accounts below!

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