EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ‘ASHTAK YOGA’

“You’re Kate in India!!” I remember making the realisation upon completing my first 200 hours of yoga in India, that the inspiringly brave and beautiful Kate (now Malik) was staying in the room, next to me completing additional training. Not only had she quit life in Australia as she knew it, but she had developed a successful business running teacher training’s abroad with her (now) husband, Dr. Gaurav Malik.

Five years ago however, it was a very different story for the duo. While Kate was working full time in marketing in Sydney, Australia, Gaurav was teaching at yoga schools across India, Thailand and Europe who dedicated 10 years of his life to studying at a prestige Yoga University in Haridwar, close to where he was born.

Drawn to the Blue Mountains by an Ashram outside of Sydney, Kate’s passion for yoga surpassed that for marketing. She gathered up her life, and enrolled to become a yoga teacher in southern Goa, which is where her and Gaurav crossed paths for the very first time.

Less than six months later, she had moved her life to India and spent her time learning at different ashrams around India, deepening her knowledge of traditional yoga and falling deeply in love with the land, and of course, her husband and soul-mate!

Read on, for how together these two kindred souls created ‘Ashtak Yoga School‘ in Goa, India and the interesting challenges they faced along the way…

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Kate & Gaurav on their wedding day earlier this year

M.E. “I remember stumbling upon your instagram account @kate_in_inda, and thinking you lead such a great life, what made you pack everything up to live in India?” 

K.M. “I fell in love in India. I went back to Australia for a while [after the first trip], I got another marketing contract and tried to forget, but it wasn’t possible. I have been living in India now for almost 4 years. It was the best decision I ever made, to follow my heart.

Gaurav is now my husband, teaching partner and best friend and we create the life we want.”

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Graduation day for some of their past students 

M.E. “What made you decide to start a Yoga School in India?”

K.M. “Gaurav has a hell of a lot of experience studying and teaching yoga. Amongst other things he has a Ph.D in Yoga (Pranayama), a Masters in Human Consciousness & Yogic Science and a Post Gradate Diploma in Yoga Teaching, not to mention a lot of teaching experience. I just felt that this information needed to be shared.

There are not many people like him, and I have the pleasure of inviting students to join us in India to experience yoga in a way that makes them want to share it with others, I feel this is what gives them the confidence to teach, because then they are just sharing from their heart.” – Kate Malik

There are not many people like him, and I have the pleasure of inviting students to join us in India to experience yoga in a way that makes them want to share it with others, I feel this is what gives them the confidence to teach, because then they are just sharing from their heart.

It’s been really important and rewarding work for me and I am really grateful to all the people we have met.”

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Gaurav teaching his students about adjustments during one of their yoga teacher trainings 

M.E. “Being a foreigner, was it hard to get things flowing? What kind of challenges did you face?”

K.M. “Running a school in India has been difficult in some ways, I find it difficult not because I am a foreigner but because I am a women. Some more traditional men in India don’t address women in public (very much it seems, as it is considered rude) so they often speak directly to Gaurav and I have to intervene and show them that they are to come to me with issues/problems or negotiations and this takes time and is frustrating.

The men can be very loving and kind, but still not include me to be involved, I find this challenging and I am still learning how to navigate this. I have certainly made progress and joke and tease with the men about my arguing for women’s rights and calling them up on the way they phrase things. They find me a bit fascinating!

“I find it difficult not because I am a foreigner but because I am a women” – Kate Malik

People stay by their word in India, I really like that. It may not seem like it, because the culture is tricky to understand, but if you agree on something the person will do their best to make it happen.”

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Sunset graduations in Goa, India

M.E. “Coming from a marketing background in Sydney, what’s your best advice for marketing your business?”

K.M. “I have quite a few followers on Instagram and I think it is a really powerful medium, especially now with ‘Insta-stories’, people can really get to know you and see what you are doing.

I know a lot of people dream of travelling to India and practicing yoga, I think I offer a window to that experience. I think I also give confidence and assurance, especially to women, that they can come to India and be safe and happy. So I suggest sharing your life and story and making it accessible to people. The best compliment I got about my Instagram was it seem like they could come and join in, and that made me really happy as it exactly how I feel!

“The best compliment I got about my Instagram was it seem like they could come and join in, and that made me really happy as it exactly how I feel!” – Kate Malik

These days a lot of our students come from word-of-mouth and this is very lucky because of course it is the most powerful form of marketing. We are very grateful to our graduates sending their friends and family members to stay and practice with us.”

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Kate in one of her quirky Instagram poses!

M.E. “What does a typical year/season look like for you?”

K.M. “We do one 4 week course a year in Rishikesh Northern India in September. It’s held in a yoga ashram, we really wanted to offer our students the experience. Then to Goa to host training’s, we go to Sydney (Australia) for a quick trip at Christmas. We leave Goa in March before it gets to hot and travel to Thailand and Bali every year.

Monsoon in India is June-August so we like to travel during this time and don’t offer any programs. This year we are travelling to South and Central America for our honeymoon for 2.5 months and afterwards I am holding a yoga and meditation retreat in Santorini, Greece.

We then do it all over again. Lots of travelling, lots of adventures. We love it.”

M.E. “What’s your favourite thing about teaching people to become yoga teachers?”

K.M. “I love the personal journey, I love watching people discover new things and nurture self-love within themselves as I find this the most powerful force. If we can help our students to see how beautiful they are, they will pass those lessons onto everyone they meet. I see a visual change in our student faces as if they have released weights off their shoulders throughout the 4 weeks, it’s very special.”

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Celebrating at the end of a graduation ceremony – such an amazing achievement!

M.E. “If you had one piece of advice for people wanting to follow their dreams, what would it be?”

K.M. “You must follow your heart. Listen to what it says. You can make it work. I never in a million years thought I would end up teaching yoga in India and have all these amazing experiences! I didn’t know any of this when I quit my job in marketing one day with no clue what to do next, you can never know, it can feel very frightening.

It is a very brave thing to follow your heart.

So in two words – be brave.”

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For more information about becoming a qualified yoga teacher with Kate & Gaurav, you can contact them directly at om@ashtakyoga.com or check our their website at www.ashtakyoga.com. Want to see a bit of the life they lead? Check out Kate’s Instagram for some inspiration on what it feels like to truly love the life you live @kate_in_india.

Love & light,

Monique Elouise x

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Passionate about self growth, Im traveling the world to learn more about holistic fitness from varying cultural perspectives. While I stay put for a few months at a time, I like to 'live as a local' volunteering at health retreats, getting deep into workshops, training, cooking, meditating, dancing and anything that will keep me holistically fit while letting intuition guide me. My end goal is to help others how become deeply in tune with themselves, learning to listen to theit inner voice, conquer their demons and create a stronger version of themselves through health and fitness.