Charmed Life

Fit File: Keith Golden of YogaWorks

The yoga instructor talks about his practice, inspiration, and love of cats.

How do you know you’re in a Keith Golden yoga class? The answer is simple. The energy is so contagious that you won’t even realize the room is heated. Golden is known for his attentiveness to each and every person in the room and instantly makes even the newest yogis feel right at home. We talked to Keith about his practice, what inspires him, and his thwarted career path as a cat whisperer. 

How long have you been practicing yoga? 
Keith Golden: I’ve been practicing since 2001 and I became a teacher in 2014. I teach at YogaWorks in the Baltimore area and Washington D.C. I appreciate the community in the area and how my teaching and approach to yoga has been embraced. I’m very thankful to be a part of this community.

What benefits has yoga given you?
KG: It has made me stronger, more flexible, and it’s increased my physical balance as well as my mental and emotional balance.

What has yoga taught you? 
KG: The importance of breathing. If I’m going to say I have a favorite pose, it’s more the action of breathing and how important it is in yoga. It matters to me more than any of the individual poses and, since I’ve started practicing, I’ve become much more aware of the constant presence of breath as well as the importance of breath as well as the power of breath.

How would you describe your classes?
KG: I teach challenging, physical, hot, sweaty, vigorous, spiritually uplifting, and fun classes.

How do you inspire confidence during your classes?
KG: I just try to present scenarios where people have the option to make a choice to dig deeper or give up. I help them explore ways to dig deeper into their physical body and then take that lesson off the and into life. You have practiced challenges, so when something goes wrong like you get a flat tire, you don’t freak out. You just fix get it done.

If you weren’t a fitness instructor what would you be?
KG: I would be a cat whisperer. I love cats. I own Django, he’s a boy, and Chaka, she’s a girl, and they’re the coolest and cutest cats ever.

You say yoga is hip-hop—what do you mean by that?
KG: In some yoga cultures, there are people who frown upon different ways people practice—some people have in their minds that there’s only a certain type of music or only silence is appropriate for yoga. For me, yoga can be whatever will inspire somebody to get on their mat. Sometimes I play hip-hop in my classes and there are people that will say they never thought they could hear hip-hop in a yoga class. But that music is speaking to them and getting them to their mat. So yoga is hip-hop, but it can also be heavy metal, it can be country, it can be Taylor Swift—whatever it is that makes you feel good and gets you practicing.

What’s your favorite song or artist to practice to?
KG: I couldn’t pick one, but I’ll name genres—I like hip-hop, reggae, anything that grooves.