Illustration above by Kelly Colchin.
I’m excited once again to introduce another inspiring figure for my Wellness Ritual series - this time with yoga and meditation teacher Kate Waitzkin! I spent a morning hanging with her in her west Austin home this week getting a glimpse into her daily meditation practice, real life home yoga set-up, swoon-worthy essential oil collection and chatting with her about how even a few minutes of quiet sitting in the car can help you tune into yourself and stay grounded. Being “well” is not only about the foods we eat, although on Medicine Kitchen I focus a lot on that level, but it’s also about finding your truth, surrounding yourself with elements that inspire you, finding beauty in daily life, and living in accordance with your inner nature. To me, Kate embodies these practices & I’m so happy to share her wellness wisdom with you all!
Kate sitting in her meditation corner in her bedroom - often used in the early morning while her husband is still sleeping, or after teaching while her boys are at school.
1/ I ask this first question to everyone, but I’m pretty sure yoga is going to be part of your answer here! I’m going to ask anyway — Do you have a daily wellness routine? What are 1-2 of your most tried and trusted practices for your overall health?
This is a big one for me as I thrive with a consistent rhythm to my days and once I find something that feeds my body and spirit in a positive, potent way, it naturally becomes part of my daily routine.
Morning Tonic: First thing following morning kisses, I drink a large glass of room-temperature water mixed with one drop of Lemon essential oil and one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Major immune and digestive boost.
Movement: Once I’ve dropped the boys off at school, I gift myself 45 – 60 minutes of movement. Most days I’m drawn to run at the hike and bike trail. This time to myself, moving my body in fresh air is the part of the day when I feel most creative and inspired. I always wear headphones with a microphone so I can take verbal “notes” on ideas for classes, workshops, inspiration for writing and meditation, quotes from podcasts or classes I’m listening to, etc. I’ve fallen in love with this 45 minutes of my day to move, study, create and get my daily dose of nature. If not on the trail, this is my time on my mat at home – no agenda, just moving with breath.
Meditation: 5 – 20 minutes daily. Some days this happens pre-dawn with candles, incense and crystals. Other days, in the carpool line at school pick up. Letting go of the need for “the perfect time and space to meditate” has opened the door for a more consistent practice that I look forward to regardless of where I am.
Essential Oils: I was introduced to doTERRA essential oils almost three years ago and they quickly became part of our family’s daily wellness routine. Our “medicine cabinet” is now full of gorgeous bottles of these beautifully-sourced oils. I carry the oils with me everywhere I go and we use them for everything from bug bites, to tummy aches, to anxiety and clearing energy. The boys just asked yesterday if they could have their own bottles to carry in their backpacks and use during the school day – music to my ears!
Numerous crystals and gemstones give off positive vibes from the living room bookshelves.
2/ Was there a moment in your life or reason that led you to yoga and meditation practices?
I could easily look back in time and say that life in New York City in my early 20s, struggles with anxiety and tight hamstrings all contributed to me finding yoga, but really there have been and continue to be so many moments and reasons that have led me to these practices and rituals, again and again.
Often, I think the practice ultimately found me so that I could usher my three boys into this world with more grace and compassion than I ever could have brought forth had I not been given these tools and gifts that the practice offers.
Whatever the moments or reasons that continually unfold and keep me returning to this practice and adopting these teachings as a way of life, for these I am eternally grateful.
Kate will set the intention with her meditation practice by lighting a candle and using either an essential oil, palo santo, or sage pot to enliven the senses - a pretty set of affirmation cards can also help set the tone for her daily sit.
3/ Do you have any sacred rituals? What feeds or fulfills your spirit?
- Daily meditation
- Writing – specifically, writing prayer and intentions
- I’m big on clearing energy from my day in preparation for sleep, so I typically light Palo Santo or Sage and sweep over my man and myself before lights out. We also sleep with a selenite round and/or quartz crystal next to our bed to help clear energy while we sleep.
- Time on my yoga mat is always a sacred ritual. More and more, this is happening at home on my living room floor in the evenings. Slow, sweet, nurturing movement. That said, sacred ritual can also happen in a sweaty, fast-paced power class – it all depends on the intention I bring into my practice space.
- Bedtime snuggles with my boys. Hands down, this feeds my spirit like nothing else.
Kate’s extensive essential oil collection (only part of it!) ready for action :)
4/ You are not only a yoga instructor, yoga teacher trainer, and doTERRA wellness advocate, but also a mom of 3 young boys. What gives you the fuel to do all you need to do in this phase of life?
One thing at a time. After a LOT of trial and error, I’ve finally begun to see the power and potential in letting go of the perceived pressure and need to multi-task in every single area of my life. I’ve learned that, for me, this attempt to “do it all, all the time” is a sure recipe for sustained anxiety, lack of presence and clarity and simply does not serve my intentions or the experiences I’ve chosen to put my energy towards.
Fuel for me is the intentional choice of slowing down. I like to start my day by acknowledging two or three things I want to focus on for the day. Then I mentally compartmentalize these areas of focus in conjunction with everything else I have going on that day, so that I offer my energy to one thing at a time.
It often feels like I am consciously shifting gears when I transition from one thing to the next and I try to make sure there is a clear moment or boundary to support that shift. It might be a simple, focused breath, a spoken word, a change in position or location, or simply an energetic ending or beginning through a goodbye hug or a kiss “hello”.
I do my best with this daily practice and, alas, some days I drop back into the more familiar pull of “doing it all, all the time” and wind up exhausted and depleted by 4pm. Yet, this practice has left an positive and potent imprint on my nervous system that calls me back more often than not.
Her glorious quartz singing bowls - perfect for sound clearing. The different notes are said to activate different chakras of the body.
5/ When you are able to indulge or need extra care, what special treatment or therapy do you use to revitalize yourself?
At the recommendation of one of my girlfriends, I started seeing a body-worker two years ago. She specializes in spinal, head and lymph, but she has healed so many areas of my body and helped me tune into signals my body is giving me in ways that blow my mind. Her guidance has given me the knowledge to support my body and wellness in new, inspiring ways. I call her my “magic maker” and I don’t go more than 6-8 weeks without seeing her.
Kate leads a LOT of yoga in her week - but still finds time to have a personal practice at home whether it be in the boys’ toy room, her own bedroom, or in front of the living room sofa.
6/ Do you have any favorite super-foods currently? What are some healthy meals or ingredients you love these days?
Always in my kitchen are eggs, avocado, pink sea salt, spinach, apples, fresh sourdough and nut butters – cashew is my recent favorite. I’m loving collagen protein mixed into my morning oatmeal. Smoothies in the vitamix happen on the regular – as my mom says, “everything, but the kitchen sink” goes into these. We keep our cooking pretty simple, clean and always with a big dose of love infused into the making – I swear this makes everything taste better!
Kate’s fresh sourdough toast with smashed avocado, power greens, fried egg (fried in ghee), topped with pink sea salt & pepitas. Yum!
Thank you so much Kate!
Kate Waitzkin is a yoga + meditation teacher and co-leads both the 200-hour and 300-hour teacher training programs at Wanderlust Austin. Kate created and leads Sunday Ritual, the monthly yoga, meditation and community-centered experience at the South Congress Hotel. Find out more about her at www.kateyoga.net or follow her on Instagram!
All photos by Heather Gallagher / @heathergallagher.photography except Kate’s home cooked meal. :)