Kate Duyn Cariati shares a practice inspired by a lifetime of exploration and self expression.
A small girl sits on the floor, swirling in circles while watching Wonder Woman. Not a child of yogis, her body intuitively loves to make shapes and move. Today she still teaches this circling movement, but she calls it “Lucky Lakshmi,” named for the archetypal goddess of abundance.
Her childhood days were spent outside, climbing trees, building forts, swimming and canoeing. At eight years old, she discovered ballet and a new world of movement. For Kate, ballet was the perfect marriage between strict discipline and technique, coupled with passionate self-expression and artistry.
Kate’s love of dance continued throughout her childhood and young adult years, and led to a choreography major at Mills College in the Bay Area. She was just finishing when her mother was diagnosed with a rare and incurable brain tumor. Her mother had been having migraines and personality shifts for several years, but by the time they finally gave her the MRI she’d been requesting, it was too late to operate. She fought cancer with grace and dignity, the same way she did everything else in her life. Kate describes her mother as “strong but goofy, elegant but fierce.” Her mother tried both Eastern and Western approaches to treatment and when seizures prevented her from driving, she asked Kate for what she called “movement therapy.” So there they were, bending their arms and legs this way and that, rolling around on the floor, her mother now in on the yoga antics, “tripping out on the experience of being a living, breathing human being.” After a two year battle, Kate’s mother died in the arms of her daughter and her own mother, Kate’s nana.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Prior to her passing, her mom encouraged Kate to travel the world. Kate listened, heading to Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and much of Europe, eventually landing in New York City. The loss of her mother left Kate in a dark and despairing place and Kate credits her yoga practice with being the gift that brought her back to center. Though she was a professional modern dancer at the time, she found herself spending more and more of her free time on her mat. Drawn to strong women, Kate was inspired by Dana Trixie Flynn and Jasmine Tarkeshi, two teachers who gifted her with a practice that would change her life. Their inspiration eventually led her into the Laughing Lotus Teacher Training. Lotus Flow, their signature vinyasa style, empowered Kate to dive into her instinctual creative process, supported by the teachings of yoga tradition.
In class, Katie’s laughter and enthusiasm are unbridled and contagious, and the joy in the room is palpable.
The more she practiced, the more Kate found herself passing through the entryway to the more subtle realms. She says, “My personal practice is medicine for me in so many ways, a ritual that grounds and connects me to the world we inhabit, to the rhythms of nature, and my own inner-workings. The creation of intricate and customized practices feels like both an outlet and dharmic duty.” The devotion in Lotus Flow resonated with Kate from the beginning; she loves the layering of dharma, mantra, mudra and mythology. She loves Lotus Flow’s straight talk about how this practice applies to our lives, the repetition and chanting of words that evoke the Divine within us and around us, symbolic hand gestures that affect our energy, and the rich history and storytelling that give the practice context. This love is reflected in her dynamic, passionate, and creative classes, where your mat becomes your personal platform to make malas or sacred shapes and flows with your own body, heart, and soul. Wherever she goes, Kate brings her unique expression of Lotus Flow, making it accessible to all by bridging the gap between fitness-focused classes and traditional asana practices.
Kate went on to teach at Laughing Lotus in New York and later moved to San Francisco to help the team open the Bay Area center. In 2009, Kate headed south for love, and the man she was engaged to marry, glassblower Joe Cariati. Joe and Kate share a love of tapas—the practice of building the fire. Yoga asks practitioners to negotiate the workings of the inner fire, and as Kate says, in glassblowing, the repeated use of fire purifies and allows the glass to be supple enough to be shaped into a particular form.
A New Journey
In 2011, Kate began the journey of motherhood with the birth of her son, Vincent. She says she wanted to become a mother in part to honor her own mom and to become a loving mother herself. One of Kate’s favorite definitions of a yogi is, “One who leaves the world a better place.” To Kate, the spirit of service this evokes is the practice of performing love through action. Motherhood involves thinking about the world we’re leaving our children, and part of the growth when we practice yoga is about taking action where and when we can.
Sharing the Love
“More and more, my yoga practice is about sharing the love, the light, the energy, whatever you may have in abundance with those who have less. I happen to have a lot of enthusiasm and faith, and I think that might fill a need for people who may be lacking in that department.”
Through numerous 200 hour and advanced teachers trainings that she has taught and co-taught in New York and Los Angeles over the past five years, Kate has trained hundreds of yoga teachers in the Lotus Flow style. In recent years she has created a platform for giving back by hosting benefit classes at the end of her trainings. Graduates of the trainings co-teach these donation classes as part of their final. They have raised money for organizations including Yoga Gives Back and Green Tree Yoga (a donation-based studio in South LA). Inspired by an article she read in this very magazine, she began promoting and supporting Unlikely Heroes, a nonprofit that rescues and rehabilitates child victims of sex trafficking. “There are so many dire disparities, suffering populations, and environmental catastrophes, it can be overwhelming and difficult to decide what to get behind. I think the best way to figure out how and where to help is to listen to what speaks to you the loudest, what pulls most powerfully at your heartstrings. Stand behind that. There are so many ways in which we can get involved and contribute in some way to positive change.” In the spirit of devotion, “The practice of Isvara Pranidhana means to offer up your thoughts and actions to the greater good and to the Divine. These actions are just the beginning of something bigger I hope to do.”
In class, Katie’s laughter and enthusiasm are unbridled and contagious, and the joy in the room is palpable. It’s not just in the yoga room, though. Kate is a force, and her energy and her heart are big; they permeate everything she does. Whether she’s teaching her son to make shapes with his own body, grabbing a tea with a friend between classes, or taking a class herself, you just can’t miss it. You can see and feel both the little kid making those circles with her body back in Portland, and the grown woman who’s leaving the world a better place one yogi at a time, wherever she goes.
You can join her in person at her local classes or online at YogisAnonymous.com, and you’ll be able to find her at LA’s home of Lotus Flow, Light on Lotus (lightonlotus.com).
Kate Website: kateduyncariati.com IG: @flowwithkate FB: Kate Duyn Cariati Yoga
All photos taken at Joe Cariati Glass studio in El Segundo:joecariati.com
Featured image: Kate wears white peacock harem pants by Bohemian Island
Photos by David Young-Wolff: davidyoung-wolff.com
Hair and makeup by: Jeannie Jeffries using Chantecaille Cosmetics and Schwarzkopf Hair: jeanniejeffries.com