Yoga Teacher Interview Series: Victoria Frye
I ran into Victoria at Michele Vinbury‘s Sunday hot flow class. Victoria’s vibes, enthusiasm, and free spirit immediately drew me in. I heard her talking to Michele and another student about how she taught Buti Yoga as I gathered my things after class. Having never heard of it before, it made my ears perk up. Sometime in the next few weeks Buti Yoga popped up as a targeted ad on my Facebook page (those darn Facebook ads really get me!). Week after week I kept seeing Victoria in Michele’s class, and we eventually ended up making some small talk, and both enrolling in the Yoga on High EMBER teacher training program. I was just beginning to be exposed to Victoria’s gentle and caring, yet fiercely passionate, heart and soul. Since then I’ve gotten to know her even better, and each thing I learn about her brings more admiration. I am FINALLY getting to attend one of her Buti classes in a few days (after I write this), when she co-teaches with Michele and Karine, and I could not be more thrilled! This was the first interview I’ve recorded in person, ironically before we went to Michele’s class together, and it was so much fun!
Victoria Bates-Frye // Buti Yoga Teacher at Seven Studios
Tell me about yourself in a couple of sentences:
By day, I am a Chief Diversity Officer for a large organization. That work is a lot of what my passion is, which includes yoga. I am one of five children. I am the only girl. My brothers were very protective and didn’t let me get away with anything. I am 2nd to the last, [although] the youngest brother thought he was my older brother too. They have always said “you think everyone is beautiful.” I have always been for the underdog. I am so much like my father [in that way]. I’ve always wanted everyone to be included. Further that’s what drew me to yoga. Yoga is about yolking, connecting together. I am born and raised in Columbus, proud of it! I love my C-bus! It’s the best kept secret, but I think it’s getting out! A lot of my family is here, some are [also] in Pennsylvania, some are in Atlanta. I’ve been married for 33 years and have 2 grown men children. [I have been] surrounded by men my WHOLE life, probably why I love Buti yoga, which is a female inspired practice.
Have your sons ever tried Buti yoga?
They have not tried it. They’re like “I’m not going to do that!” They are both athletes, both play college football.
What type(s) of yoga do you teach?
I teach Buti Yoga, not B-O-O-T-Y. The name comes from an Indian dialect (Marathi), and “Buti” means “the cure to something hidden or kept secret.” It is a very powerful practice. It infuses vinyasa, plyometrics, and tribal dance. It is SO fun! It is SUCH a workout, but we look at it as a practice. It’s spiral structure is copyrighted, and gets to your deep core muscles around your spine. This practice allows you to create strength. You are able to work through all your chakras. That is what amazed me about this practice.
Did you practice other types of yoga before?
So this is interesting, I have been in the fitness industry for about 30 years on and off, and doing whatever, [including] being an athlete. I started teaching group fitness in my 20s. I can remember trying yoga about 5 years ago with a girlfriend of mine and I thought “woah, this is kinda hard!” It was a vinyasa class, in a tight room, all these bodies. I mean, I saw butts and everything. I thought “there is something about this. I’m like wow, this is challenging! This really makes you breathe.” It’s different! It’s like the whole person. It’s not like step, step step, or pump it! pump it! pump it! It’s very calm and focused and all these things. I kind of put it to the side because I was teaching all these other things.
Well, I am a Lupus survivor, or “warrior,” as I like to say. 🙂 It was this incident that made me go to Buti Yoga. I was at an Earth Day event at the Columbus Commons with my husband about 3 years ago. That night I started to feel REALLY sore and my muscles felt weird. The next morning I woke up and I couldn’t move. I was afraid I was dying. I couldn’t get out of bed. It was really scary. I actually had been diagnosed with Lupus about 15 years before that, but I had mostly forgotten about it. I had too much to do. It didn’t even dawn on me it could’ve been that. My current doctors didn’t even have in their records I was diagnosed with Lupus. So my current doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I got all kinds of tests and they just kept telling me I didn’t have this, or this, or that. It took weeks and weeks. They had me on all these medications and [I was experiencing] side effects. One day I was in my doctor’s office and he said something about Lupus, and I was like Oh! I was still teaching during all of this, talk about a hard head. So it was the following December when we figured that out. January is the time of year we find new things. I couldn’t teach [my other classes] anymore, so I was online googling some things on what I could teach now. I couldn’t NOT teach anything, I am a teacher. So I’m online looking at yoga teacher training programs, and Buti Yoga popped up. I did some research on it and it was ALL the things I loved in one thing! I looked at it for about 2 weeks, and signed up for teacher training in March. I signed up and I had never done a practice. I just jumped right in, which is kind of me. My husband was like “What??”. I traveled to Nashville to get certified. It was 2 days and one of the hardest freaking things I’ve ever done. I told them I had Lupus, and interestingly the creator of Buti also has Lupis. I went through the training and talked to Julie Wilkes at Seven Studios, who I had known for a long time, and said “I have this practice I think would be great at your studio”. She invited me right in! I quit teaching regularly at Lifetime.
My Buti yoga tribe is AMAZING. I have some students who have been coming since I started the class. We do things outside of class. We are a tribe. Anyone who does Buti yoga are called “Butisatvas” (HAHA i love this!). It’s really an amazing practice.
How did start coming to Michele’s class? Because I remember you coming in and I think you were talking to Michele after class and I thought to myself “she seems pretty cool!”
Hmm how did I come to Yoga on High? Well I realized I was just teaching. I didn’t have my own personal practice. It’s hard for me to practice as home. I work so much and I teach and I get home and I don’t feel like practicing. I’m a class person. I love bodies and people and that energetic exchange. Otherwise it’s like my husband watching me and he’s like “Ok…”. I tried to find a studio that had a lot of knowledge and of course Yoga on High popped up, not that Seven Studios can’t do that, but there is a different dynamic of going to another studio and JUST being a student. I don’t know how I ended up in Michele’s class first. I went to a few other classes a few times, then tried Michele’s….In the first class I’m like “Oh yeah, I like her! I like her music!”, and we talked after class. She’s not so serious, which I like, life is so short.
Who or what inspires you right now?
Wow, that is such a good question! My mother inspires me. That woman is amazing. She’s 80. She does Buti Yoga. I go to her house and do it with her usually. For a women’s conference, I did a demo, and she did it with me. I tell her she’s a badass all the time, she gave me permission to say that. 🙂 She is really amazing. She is so humble. She is such a perfect example for me, for such a beautiful human being. She has been through a lot. She has scoliosis and she still does Buti yoga.
Oh gosh, EMBER training. I like want to explode. It makes me want to cry, then self-care, then I don’t know. It’s just all the things. You hear people say “it’s all the things,” but this is REALLY all the things!
What do you want to do with your EMBER teacher training?
I want to teach EMBER to populations who are undeserved. There are pieces and parts of EMBER that I will incorporate into, if God allows, my own studio that I’d like to open one day. I think there are many people and populations and levels that could benefit from EMBER. So many people I encounter in my day job who I think could benefit so much from that. I am a firm believer before you do anything to be as prepared as possible. We are ushering in this practice. This life changing event and time, that we can’t take it lightly. I am just a facilitator. I am just an usher of Buti Yoga, of EMBER, or whatever, so I have to take the utmost care in maintaining this practice for people who need it on so many different levels.
What advice do you give to someone who says “I can’t do yoga”?
For Buti, it’s different and some chakras are blocked. Buti Yoga is all about opening up your heart, opening up that heart charka. It’s all about your hips, and all those things. It’s all about opening. Women have experienced all kinds of trauma, and we’re told “you’re not supposed to that”, “you’re this”, “you’re that”. For Buti Yoga I suggest just trying it. Listen and don’t think so much. You can be free. It’s okay if you want to come in shorts or yoga pants, it’s fine. There are no rules. There have been women who start taking off the layers week by week as they continue to come to class – the mental layers and the physical layers. It’s freeing. Don’t be afraid to be free. It’s just us. We’re a tribe. We’re sisters. There is no judgement. There is none of that there.
For yoga, I say “everyone can do yoga.” Yoga doesn’t look the same for everybody. You don’t have to have your leg way up in the air when you’re in a 3 legged dog,. You can get there if you want to, but this is your practice. I’m not telling you where to go, I suggest. I encourage, but it’s yours. It’s not step class.
What do you find is the most rewarding part about teaching?
I’ve taught so many forms for so many years, but it is the ability to help those in and out of your class, because it extends to outside the studio or gym, and help them realize their self-worth. To understand that they can. To recognize their beauty and anointing on earth. That they are loved. And that can be a challenge when folks come with so many different things and you don’t know what those things are, all you can do is be your authentic self and hope they get what they’re seeking. And I like to make shapes when I can. 🙂 And creating this tribe – a safe place. There is so many places that aren’t safe, so being able to create that for an hour in a day, or whatever.
Are Buti Yoga classes 1 hour?
They say an hour but, you know, mine usually go an 1 hour and 15 or 20 [minutes]. I tell my class it says an hour, but we may be here longer. I feed off the energy of the class. If they’re on fleek, we’re going with it. They’re like “we know, Victoria!” They can leave early if they need to, but they never do.
What is your favorite pose?
For whatever reason, I love Ardha Chandrasana (half-moon pose). Probably because it was challenging for me for a long time and it still continues to be every once in a while.
What is your least favorite pose?
It used to be downward facing dog. I just couldn’t get the hand placement, feet placement, hip placement. I ended up realizing I thought my hips were wider than they were – all about our self-awareness. You know and I really can’t think of one now. I don’t know if I have one now. I’ll probably think of one while we’re in class today and I’ll be like “that’s it!”