Life Practice

An Austin attorney takes lessons from the yoga mat to the legal profession.

Interview by Adam Faderewski

In Recess Major
Above: Kara Batey holds a variation of the warrior pose on a recent weekend in Austin. Photo courtesy of Kara Batey.

Austin attorney Kara Batey, a partner in Branscomb, is involved in two practices—law for a living and yoga for life. While attending Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center in Baton Rouge, Batey began taking yoga classes as a way to stay healthy. When she relocated to Austin, Batey made yoga a regular part of her schedule. Now the LSU Tiger works on her tiger pose three to five times a week.

When did you start doing yoga?
I don’t remember the first yoga class that I went to. I do remember that on occasion, when I was in law school, I would go to a class that was at the YMCA down the street. I started to practice yoga regularly six years ago.

Was it just a way to relax or exercise?

In Austin, we’re so fortunate to have a lot of yoga studios, and I started first going just on Saturday mornings with one of my good friends. That would be our time when we would catch up on our week and exercise. I moved to an apartment in downtown Austin that was next door to a yoga studio, and I would go almost every day—just as often as I could. It was convenient, because I didn’t have to park.

How often do you go now?

It kind of depends on the week. I typically try to go three or four times a week. All of the classes I go to are an hour long.

What types of disciplines or styles of yoga do you follow?

The classes I go to the most are heated Vinyasa classes. I think it would be fair to also call them power yoga classes. They are good for your mental health and also are an actual exercise class.

What are some of your favorite aspects of yoga?

The physical aspect helps me after sitting at my desk all day to feel a little bit more limber and less stiff. The mental aspect that I really enjoy—because the classes are physically intense—is that it allows me to fully clear my brain out for an hour a day. There are no cellphones in class. It’s hard to be too stressed or bothered about what’s going on at work, or even at home, if you’re in a hundred-degree room trying to stand on one foot.

In Recess Minor
Left: Originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, Kara Batey now practices real estate and oil and gas law as a partner in Branscomb in Austin. In addition to the practice of law, Batey is a certified yoga instructor.
Right: Kara Batey balances herself in Eka Pada Galvasana, or flying pigeon pose. Photos courtesy of Kara Batey.

What’s your typical yoga class like?
The class is warm and a little bit humid as well. Each teacher does something different each day. Usually, at the beginning of the class, there are a few minutes to get your mind into being on your mat. Then there’s a Sun A and a Sun B—though in each of these classes, it could be different each day. Essentially you repeat a sequence anywhere from two to five times. There’s also a portion of the class where you focus on core exercises and balancing—maybe some inversions. At the end of the class, you start to wind down a little bit. The last pose of every yoga class, regardless of what style, is Savasana, where you basically lay on your back and have quiet time. The other name for that is corpse pose, and the idea is that you’re dying to your practice at that time and then you reawaken and go back into the rest of your day.

How did you go about getting certified as a yoga instructor?
The studio that I go to offers a teacher training program, and I knew that I liked their approach because there are so many different variations of yoga and practices and theories. They focused on actually teaching you how to teach a class, which is much harder than I thought it would be.

How would you say yoga relates to your work?
I thought about this when I was doing teacher training. It’s interesting to me that yoga and law are both described as a practice. People practice law. People practice yoga. They’re similar in that they’re quite a long journey and you don’t know where everything is going to end but you’re on this path that you’re trying to navigate. I think that people who practice yoga try to teach themselves things they can focus on and apply to their work. These are not necessarily groundbreaking things—just the idea of being present or trying not to be a perfectionist, which is something I think a lot of lawyers struggle with. The nature of my job is that we want to be perfect and achieve and get the absolute best results for my clients. In yoga, you realize that there aren’t as many absolutes—you’re doing your best and you have to be where you are that day. TBJ

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