Kayse Budd doesn't look like a doctor, and that's the way she likes it.

"I entered medical school with the intent of practicing traditional medicine either as a pediatrician or adolescent physician," said Budd, who earned her M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School in 2002. "I became disillusioned with western medicine during school. I was a stressed out, high strung med student."

Budd met a group of students at med school who were "not so concerned about their careers, but focusing more on holistic health. I respected these students, and decided 'I'm going to check this out.'"

Budd attended the National Conference of the American Holistic Medical Association and was convinced her medical career must encompass alternative health practices. "The doctors at the conference were so well-balanced," said Budd. "They were like no other medical doctors I knew. I wanted someone to say that about me."

Since then she has studied alternative/herbal medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil in the Program for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona; trained with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C.; become a certified instructor of Integral Yoga; and she is currently being certified for Zero Balancing, a form of body/energy work. And somewhere between all of her training Budd found the time to write two books, Pocketbook of Natural, Herbal and Home Remedies funded by grants from the American Holistic Medical Association, and co-authoring Reflections in the Mirror: Taking a Closer Look at Self-Esteem and Eating Disorders in Adolescence (Oakwood Publishing, 2001).

Now Budd brings her holistic approach to health and well-being to Telluride.

"After graduation I decided to take a sabbatical from my medical training," said Budd, who has been splitting her time between Telluride and Denver where she has been teaching at the University of Denver. "I needed to heal myself. Med school was emotionally and physically draining." Budd will return to conventional training this summer, with a residency in family practice. "My vision is to develop a multi-dimensional health center that integrates yoga, dance, art therapy, herbalism, nutrition, body work, and humanistic Western medicine," said Budd.

While in Telluride this winter, she is offering several classes, including a course specifically for teenage girls. "I've always been drawn to teenagers," said Budd. "I had a challenging adolescence and struggled with questionable self-esteem and body image. After high school I healed myself of that through personal discovery and found the knowledge of who I was." These personal experiences help Budd relate to the issues young women face today.

Budd received a grant from the Telluride Council for the Arts and Humanities to develop the course, called Moksha, a Sanskrit word meaning "the experience of freedom that rests at the core of being." The class begins Sunday, Jan. 23.

Over six weeks, Budd will guide teenage girls on an exploration of their inner world through various exercises, drawing from similar courses she has taught in the past as well as from her more recent experiences.

"My courses are constantly evolving kaleidoscopes," said Budd. "I add elements from my life. This course is based loosely on a course I designed at DU, but in the meantime I became a certified yoga instructor and have been working with dance, so I added that in."

The purpose of Moksha is to help young women celebrate their uniqueness through fostering a healthy self-esteem and an exploration of authenticity. "The goal is for young women to gain freedom from all the external 'stuff' of the world – everything society says they should do and be," said Budd. "It's to help young women learn how to recognize and listen to their true selves."

The course will focus on a different exercise each week, including guided-imagery, journaling, creating personal mandala images, dancing, yoga, and creating music through drumming and percussion.

Budd said Moksha is "totally for beginners. Participants do not need any prior experience with yoga, meditation, art, or dance." Girls between the ages of 13 and 18 interested in the course can contact Budd directly or talk to Lisa Andrews at the Telluride High School or Ernie Patterson at the Mountain School.

For people of all ages, Budd is teaching two classes at the Ah Haa School: Mystic Movement – The Dance of Your Spirit, a six-week series held on Mondays from Jan. 24 through Feb. 28, and Journey to Your Center, a course for adults similar to Moksha, Thursdays, Jan. 27 through March 3. Beginners are welcome at all the classes.

"My greatest passion is to give what I know to others," said Budd. "I feel my role on the planet is as a teacher and healer. I use my own experiences and my passion comes naturally."