Celebrity yoga teacher Kathryn Budig has been celebrating a lot of major landmarks lately: She turned 30 last weekend (Happy Birthday, Kathryn!), and she also just made her 50th skydive at the end of May. That’s a lot of skydiving, especially for a woman who’s known for spending so much time on a mat. Kathryn kindly agreed to talk with us about why she’s become such a skydiving junkie; even better, she sent some amazing photos of her adventures in the clouds.
Warning: This interview may give you an itch to get hooked up to a parachute.
What inspired you to start skydiving in the first place?
One of my beautiful students posted a video of her first tandem skydive on Facebook. The big shocker was that this lovely lady is so dainty and beautiful that I wasn’t expecting her to go jump out of a plane. She kept this megawatt smile on her face the entire time and wrote in bold letters ‘shine on’ on her palms to show the camera during free fall. I found myself in tears by the end of the jump because I was so moved and inspired. I rung her up after that and told her, “I have to make a skydive with you.” We decided on a skydive the next time we were in the same place, which happened to be in Florida. Another friend who joined us did his research and found the best skydive dropzone in Florida…and thus it began! I had a solid three month countdown before I jumped knowing I would. It was thrilled, but it also felt like a death sentence at the time!
Had you ever tried anything like it before, or challenged yourself to something as scary?
Inversions and arm balances may not be as scary as skydiving, but I’d like to think of myself as pretty fearless on my yoga mat. I’ve fallen out of every pose possible—good falls, funny splats, painful tumbles, you name it. It’s taught me that everything is only as scary as you tell yourself it is, and that the only way to get where you want to be is by applying yourself through the good AND the bad. But I don’t consider myself an adrenaline junkie. Although, since skydiving I have done bungee, zip line and jet boating.
A lot of people try something like skydiving just to check it off a “bucket list,” but you’ve gone at least 50 times (according to Twitter!). Why have you stuck with it for so long?
There’s a slight twist to my first skydive… I went to Florida terrified of this skydive but determined to do it because I said I would. My original friend (and inspiration) actually ended up backing out so my other friend and I actually organized the trip. We had a moment to back out, but decided to stay true and go for it. I walked into the room and my tandem instructor was this 6’4″ solid dude, which somehow gave me comfort. He kept me fully informed and calm the entire ride up until we got to altitude and the entire butt of the plane opens up. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been on a plane that just opens up, but if you never have it’s a bit daunting. People started gearing up and jumping out as my instructor told me, “Okay, when I stand up your feet aren’t going to touch the ground, so just bend your knees and tuck them in-between my legs and hold onto the harness.” Next thing you know, we’re walking towards the end of the plane, with me looking like a cross between a baby bjorn and terrified koala. It was the moment when we paused on the brink of the plane and the vast abyss that it hit me: I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of the UNKNOWN.
My instructor had educated me incredibly well, but I had no idea what it would feel like, and that evoked the most fear out of me. How can I go on if I’m not sure? These three seconds passed and as we hit the air, I went from the most terrifying moment in my life to feeling absolute love and bliss. It made me realize if you step into your fear and let go, you will fall into love—you just have to be willing to take that chance.
On a side note, a year has passed and I’m moving in with that said tandem instructor, so I fell in love in every sense. He taught me and continues to teach me everything about skydiving.
Do you have a “bucket list” yourself? Is there anything you’re still afraid of doing now that you’re an expert skydiver?
Expert? Ha! I’m a mere 50 some jumps in while I’m surrounded by people with 9,000-plus. Skydiving reminds me of yoga in the sense that it can’t be mastered. There is always a new way to fly your body or a new skill to develop under canopy in the same way that posture is limitless on our mats. I want to become an amazing flier and maybe even teach skydiving as well as yoga someday. I don’t exactly have a bucket list, but I’ve always had a fear of the ocean and sharks. I’d like (like being the operative word!) to learn to scuba and do a caged shark dive at some point to see if I can conquer my fears. I might have a long way to go!
Some people say that skydiving is stupid, because it’s too big of a risk. What do you say to them?