In a sense, my journey on Ashtanga Yoga is unique because my relationship with India came before my relationship with yoga. I was a little girl watching TV, I remember an image of women in colourful saris with urns on their heads. When an opportunity came in my second year of university to travel to India and teach English, I packed my bag and life was never the same.
Guruji used to say many lifetimes and i believed it is this karma with the wisdoms, traditions in India that makes my connection to yoga inescapable. For me the intersection of yoga and Ayurveda is a functional place. My desire to see and taste all of India at aged 19 altered my digestive system forever. Twenty years of practicing ayurvedic medicine with doctors in India has helped me with not only my health but also my spiritual evolution.
Ayurveda, the oldest continually practiced system of medicine in the world, was ingrained in what Guruji and Sharathji taught. From their recommendations for oil baths to herbal preparations for Shodhana or purification. The Ayurveda was always present in our studies in Mysore. Years later, a recognition that from many of my students of Boston, diet was limiting the progression in asanas brought me to make a formal study of Ayurveda. At the request of the students, I began to teach Ayurveda principles.
Through practicing both systems, yoga and Ayurveda, I began to more deeply understand the Sankhya system of philosophy which underlies them both. Through balancing our attentions between matter and consciousness, Prakriti and Purusha, we as yoga practitioners can create a life where household duties and spiritual evolution coincide harmoniously.
My primary interest as a practitioner and a teacher is in the possibilities of these ancient sciences in our current cultural context. I wish to experience yoga as deeply as the life I am given allows and to translate what elements may be beneficial for today's students.
It is my goal to cultivate the kind of presence where yoga is manifesting in its absolute fullness as I practiced asana and all the other stuff melts away; and simultaneously cultivating the ability to fluidly and willingly shift the attention back to the daily when the day begins.
Here’s the thing: in my experience, the fabric which hangs between these two modes of attention becomes a thinner and thinner weave. Yoga pokes through at the most surprising times like shooting stars and we might not even notice it as such in the beginning until the fabric in daily life and yoga is a silken filament, there to nurture and protect us while we balance stability and deep transformation. Life moves in us as a rhythmic breeze and its current becomes something omnipresent in our awareness. Most palpable in the essence of movement and breath practice, which is why the practice draws us in.
Isn’t this why we love it?
Kate has just released a new book which you can find on Amazon by clicking here:
Kate O’Donnell is the author of The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook, and Everyday Ayurveda Cooking for a Calm, Clear Mind: 100 Sattvic Recipes. An Ayurvedic Practitioner and KPJ authorized Ashtanga yoga teacher, Kate is on faculty for Kripalu School of Ayurveda and Boston Ayurveda School. She travels to India annually for study and teaches internationally.