There are some books that you half-read once, put down and never think about again.
And then, you get books like Life in Flow.
Life in Flow is an everyday book. It’s one that you reflect on whilst on your way to work, an afternoon walk and every space in between. It has lots of dog-ear bookmarks, underlined sentences, notes scrawled and pages you refer back to whenever life feels like it’s getting away from you.
But, before you begin, be sure to sit down, find stillness and enjoy it properly.
Kate Kendall, known as the Active Yogi, is not only the author of Life in Flow, but also the co-founder and director of Sydney's yoga and gym space, Flow Athletic in Paddington. She hosts a podcast titled The Space Between (I feature on this episode here, just by the way), is the creator of Flow After Dark, a beautiful friend, new mum and all-round inspiring woman. If you’ve ever had the chance to speak to her in person though, you’ll realise Kate’s a humble and inspiring yogi who merely followed her path.
Life in Flow explores Kate's story in its entirety.
After experiencing a crash and burn on her way to the top, Kate managed to turn her life around through yoga and meditation. She quit her full-time job to go to India and study yoga. While this story is one of epic proportions, Kate explains throughout the book that it’s not about changing your whole life journey but rather, finding your own personal ‘dharma’, or life purpose. Kate explores what it means to be a yogi in the everyday, and shows us that there's a lot more to it than meditating uncomfortably in a lotus pose or getting sweaty at a yoga studio.
Kate effortlessly combines ancient yoga practices with modern mindfulness, making it the perfect book to assist you in practicing yoga on and off the mat. The book radiates Kate’s positivity but is also a very raw and inspiring exploration of how to find your own flow. It’s spiritual, open-minded and will help you slow down, spark joy and connect.
The book is sectionalised into four parts to help guide you through the journey: grounding, joy riding, connection and devotion. Each chapter follows Kate’s own story and musings, holds helpful tips and yoga poses to help solidify the messages.
The book starts with an exploration into being grounded, and how to be ‘in your body’. From this place, Kate explains, you’re less reactive, and more clear-headed, creative and calm. It investigates the idea of slowing down and is full of practical tips to help you feel grounded and inhabit your space more fully.
Joy riding is a chapter of clarity; being clear on what brings you happiness. The yoga flow in this chapter follows the mantra love and light, which I absolutely love.
While our generation is connected in so many ways, the deep, soul-touching connection we aspire for often goes amiss, leaving us feeling, ironically, disconnected. This chapter is full of tools to help us get back to connection. It also contains one of my favourite parts in the book, a section about phones and digital detoxes. Admittedly, I have a love-hate relationship with my phone. Kate eloquently explores the relationship we have with our phones and how much beauty there is if we just look up from the screen. Oh, and you can also learn how to have a conscious yogi’s phone etiquette – think turning it off with friends, at meal times and before bed.
The last chapter, devotion, perfectly sums up the whole book. In essence, it showcases how being of service to others gives life a purpose. However, life is about giving and receiving, reminding us to give, but still remember to give to ourselves through self-care.
This book is truly a game-changer for the modern mindfulness guru. From the yoga-curious to the yoga legend, there are nuggets of yogi wisdom for everyone.
I had the opportunity to interview Kate and ask her some juicy questions. Enjoy it below!
What was the spark that made you want to write the book and kept you going during the lengthy process?
I knew I had a book in me. I'd flirted with the idea for a while but it wasn't until a sit down with you, Lee, when you said you'd introduce to your book publisher. That was the head start I needed. I'm lucky for that.
I wrote the book the whole nine months I was pregnant - every spare moment I got away from the studio. I'd spend Sundays in the library or sitting in our living room in Bronte looking at the beach. Some days I wouldn't feel super inspired but there would always be something that would come in to share. I really loved the creative process of writing the book.
You talk in your book about wholehearted living can you elaborate on this?
Wholehearted living is about being 'all in' and showing up as your whole self - taking nothing away nor adding anything. It's about feeling what you're feeling, unashamedly, and taking responsibility for your actions. It's about living fully and skimming over nothing.
I love that the book is an ode to the true meaning of yoga, and less about self-help and more about helping others, strengthening relationships and community, what are some of the ways people can strengthen relationships?
By practicing compassion and kindness.
And by listening. Yoga is very much so about 'listening' and most people just want to be heard and felt understood.
What does it mean to have an open, playful and curious heart and what steps can we take to achieve it?
This is my life's work - and perhaps the most challenging - or Michael Singer in his book (one of my faves) The Untethered Soul, would say that it's also the easiest thing to do. He says that nothing is worth closing your heart over. The idea is that we remain open, no matter our situation and be optimistic about the lessons that can be learnt in any situation - as challenging as they may seem. Singer says that whatever feelings come up for us, the ideas that we feel them and let them go without holding onto anything. This is the key to keeping the heart open, playful and curious.
When it comes to connection what are your top three 'real life' ways to take kindness off the mat and into the real world?
Random Acts of Kindness (doing something for others - even strangers - without expecting anything in return or even telling them you've done that thing for them)
Practicing compassion and putting yourself in other's shoes. The ability to come 'unstuck' and be open to other viewpoints is a skill. It doesn't mean you have to sway from your values but rather accept other people's opinions.
What is your idea of self-care and what does the practice of self-care cultivate in a person?
Self care is very much related to cultivating a relationship with oneself based on kindness. If we think of ourselves as an 'energy body' - which is what we are - we can see that rests imperative, as is a healthy lifestyle
I love your popular podcast The space between. What exactly is the space in between and why do we need to go there?
The Space Between is a concept that actualised itself to me one day when I was practicing yoga. I noticed the space between my breaths as being expansive and still. I had this blissful moment of no thoughts - it was a point little pause where I felt completely present. I then expanded it to explain the space between to-do's, activities and events or a place in which you practiced presence; A place where you slow down enough to listen to the sound of your breath and do nothing but 'be'. I think this concept and philosophy is so relevant in today's obsession with busy. Have you ever stopped to wonder where we're racing to anywhere? Sometimes I think we're just 'being done' and the more we can step back and go with the flow, go with this current of 'being done' the more exciting, blissful and purposeful our life will be.
Do you think that our mobile phones have the upper hand and do you yourself do a one-day digital detox each week?
You only need to look around to notice on a daily basis that our phones have the upper hand. Everywhere you look people are lost in a vortex. It's crazy. Me too at times. I really have to practice some discipline to not waste hours on instagram. When I'm walking down the street and notice a person observing the world around them as opposed to being on the phone I want to stop them and say, "I love you - you're here."
Don't get me wrong, our phones are also incredible and social media has played a huge role in any amount of success we're had at Flow Athletic. It's been a great way to communicate and learn. But like anything - food and alcohol for example - if we overuse it and abuse it, it can have some harsh results and become addictive.
If I find myself getting a little anxious army nervous system seems racy, I'll take a day off my phone. For me the best days are Sundays.
You bring your own personal experiences into Life in Flow which help make the book very relatable. What is one of the biggest lessons you have learnt through the years of studying, opening and running a successful business and being in a relationship?
To speak your truth. Only always. I've been guilty of committing to things or saying things so that I wouldn’t offend someone or because I thought that's what people wanted to hear and it got no where but burnt out and addicting to busy, not to mention unfulfilled and depressed.
You're a new mum, how have things changed for you since having your baby girl and is it harder to stay in flow with the change in routine?
I can say, for sure, that I've never been happier. Sure - Motherhood present mega confrontations and struggles but they are all so worth it. My daughter has been my greatest teacher yet. I stress less about getting my hair and nails done and focus way more on playfulness and quality time with family. And it's only made the way I teach feel more meaningful. I love being a Mumma and I'm only doing it once so I'm savouring every moment.
You can pick up a copy of Life in Flow here.