About Kathy

Kathy Sell Smith is the founder of Yoga Off East. She lives in Durham with her husband, Ramsey, their two children and a chocolate lab. Kathy graduated from Duke in 2001 where she spent four years on the women's tennis team while earning a degree in Cultural Anthropology. As a competitive athlete, and later a Division I tennis coach, Kathy found mindfulness and yoga to be effective tools for creating a positive mindset, especially in high stakes moments.  She finds it no coincidence that her on-court results improved as she learned, through yoga, how to quiet her busy, critical mind and stay grounded in her body. Today, Kathy is a certified yoga instructor, having completed a 200-hour teacher training at Franklin Street Yoga Center and a 500-hour advanced training at Blue Lotus Yoga in Raleigh.  In addition to weekly classes at Yoga Off East, Kathy works privately with athletes and teams around town. 


The time spent on my mat is never lost or forgotten, but rather the lessons learned and absorbed in my body show up later on their own time.
— Kathy, Yoga Off East Founder + Owner

Q + A

I am happiest…

when I prioritize self-care.

my favorite view...

Portland, Oregon. There’s something about the down-to-earth nature of the people in the PNW and the gorgeous landscape of mountains and trees that makes me feel grounded and happy. I moved to Portland the year I graduated from Duke University and eventually landed in Eugene (where I was born!) for graduate school. I can only explain the feeling as "at home” when I'm in Oregon.

A good day is…

There is a quote that says, “Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples, and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.” 

Reading this quote shifts my perspective. So, my perfect “ordinary day” starts with a good sleep the night before! I wake up, move through a self-guided yoga sequence and walk into the kitchen to grind fresh coffee beans. I drink one strong, fresh cup and head outside for a walk with my dog before the kids wake up. The day includes time outside, quality time on the floor playing with my kids, yoga with a beloved teacher or on my mat at home, a few quiet moments to write, teaching a yoga class or two, making dinner with my husband with music playing in the kitchen, tidying up the house and a few preparations for the day ahead. 

Last thing you do at night…

take a few minutes to sit alone in a quiet room.

What 3 things are vital to your day…

movement, family time, seeking inspiration.

Go-to websites…

www.goduke.com, Rock Your Bliss, Houzz

how do you unwind...

It’s dinner out with friends or it’s a quiet night at home with no agenda. Sometimes it’s 5 nights at a detox spa in Palm Springs. Self-care is ongoing and a work in progress, just like me!  

WHAT WAS YOUR DREAM JOB AS A CHILD…

professional tennis player, veterinarian, writer, magazine editor

WHAT ONE MEETING CHANGED YOUR LIFE…

my interview at Princeton University for the women's tennis head coach position in 2004.

BIGGEST RISK THAT HAS PAID OFF…

leaving a career I loved to follow my heart to Durham.

FAILURE IS…

a state of mind. When things don't go my way, it's back to the basics. I revisit what's most important and try to figure out if I need to work harder to get a different result or if it's time to rewrite my goals.

SUCCESS IS…

a mindset.