Entries in Kate W Mak (7)


Friday nights :)




Friday night... you're amazing.

When I first started practicing, I was a faithful Friday Yo-Groove student of Lisa Shilolo at Bodhi Tree. It was one of my favourite classes to go to and my mat was my church. It was at that point I started shifting out of drinking and going ot the clubs on Friday night so that I could laugh, smile and move my body with so many familiar faces (who eventually became friends) in the room. It was my favourite way to tie up my week and there were moments of great triumph, of clarity, of connection and of authenticity. 

So when I was offered a slot teaching on Friday night in a studio in the south and later at Yoga Santosha, I was both honoured and excited. Excited to take the reigns in a humble hope to provide the same space that Lisa Shilolo did for me all those Friday nights. Honoured because people would choose to spend their Friday night with me and that I could carry a piece of Lisa Shilolo into my teaching. :)

But after 7.5 years of teaching on Friday nights... it finally came time to let it go and to reclaim that night back for myself. 

You see, my life has been centered around building my teaching and while that still remains true, I am also shifting my efforts towards finding myself in my personal life and health (body, mind and spirit).



It took a long time to get here and there's still a long way to go in reflecting who I am as a teacher into the way I am in relationships and for my health. I am holding myself accountable to be big and bold in these areanas and to try things outside of yoga so that I have a healthy body inside and out for years to come. 

While I am sad to walk away from my Yoga Groove class, I am also excited at the time it frees up for me to develop and continue the evolution of self. My first Friday night off, I was able to get to Ryan Leier's master class at Yoga Passage for a good 2 hour class to refill my own cup. I also know that's it's not goodbye... heck no!! The city of Calgary is small and the yoga community is even smaller (the world, is actually very small).

See you on the patios, bike paths and out and about my friends!!


Also... to settle rumours...

I am not quitting, stepping back or taking a break from yoga. 

I'm still all in... more than ever! <3


When the heart breaks...

In the last three years, I have had a lover in another country.

But before I dive in, let's rewind the clock...

I was emerging out of one of the most toxic relationships of my life. It brought me down to my knees and shattered every sense of self I had. I plunged myself into my work and dedicated my time and efforts to the craft I humbly offer in every class.
It has been worthwhile and so brilliantly amazing... But I didn't know it until three years ago that there was a piece of me that was lost when I came out of that relationship.

When I met my lover, the gift he gave me was that happy reminder of the woman I once was and would continue evolving to be. A woman who is steadfast in her femininity, powerful with a graceful fragility, courageously vulnerable, comfortable displaying her sensuality and charged with shakti.

And as time passed within the last three years, I've penned outrageously romantic moments with this man. Everything, like a scene from the gooiest romantic film starring the likes of Ryan Gosling

(Like this scene from The Notebook).


Our lives will be peppered with people coming in and out of our spheres of existence. Each of them will offer you a valuable lesson... Sometimes, these lessons are hard, sometimes these lessons are beautiful, sometimes these lessons are lifting and sometimes these lessons will break your heart.

Human nature is a funny thing and we hold on and replay and hope to relive certain aspects. But time... Well, it doesn't work like that.

I was gifted with the realization that I could reclaim the woman I left in the dust in my journey as a teacher over 3 years ago. But, drunk with ambrosia like feelings... I started to hold on to something else in hopes to replay and relive those wildly romantic moments. In effect, shutting me off from anybody else and anchoring me to an idea, a scene from a movie, a piece of wonderland.

And so... I bid farewell with so much love and so much respect for this man. The universe conspired and worlds collided to bring our paths together again in this version of our lives. A touch and kiss so tender and familiar that it must have happened in a previous lifetime... It's just not the right timing in this one.

A great and inspirational friend said to me once, "time is all but an illusion. Time-ING, is everything". (Thanks Peter Jack!)

And so... my heart breaks in a strangely beautiful way. The seams, splitting apart and exposing the raw and authentic vulnerability that lies within us all. I wept for the loss and reserve the right to cry again at a later date, perhaps when I am reminded of him. But, there was a sense of calm even as I cried because I knew. I knew.

When the heart breaks... It opens.

When your heart breaks, it blasts open


The year is 2083


My recent trip back to Asia, I made it a priority to spend as much time as I could with my paternal grandparents (Yeye and mama). Specifically, my grandfather who is 96 years old now.

The signs of old age seemed exponentially more apparent than when I saw him just 10 short months ago.

And I wonder, what would it be like to live close to 100 years. An entire century of witnessing the world.
Both my grandparents have seen all five of their children get married and have seen their 7 grandchildren grow up. In addition, they lived through the Second World War, civil war, the depression and the boom of Hong Kong's population.

The story behind the Mak family is quite an interesting one and certainly one that I would want to learn more about because details are foggy.

Yeye's father arrived to work on the railroad in the states. He worked hard and sent money back to his family whenever he could. He survived and started up a laundromat where he continued to work abroad till the end of his life (unable to get his family over, he never saw them again).

His death was discovered when there were several days when the laundromat didn't open. My great grandfather's friend went in and found that he had passed away. He also found all this money my great grandfather was saving. I do not know this man's name but acknowledge that he started a series of events that would start a domino effect all the way up to 2015 where I stand today.

He took all the money, went back to China and found my Yeye. At that point, Hong Kong was still a port city without much development. This mystery gentleman gave my Yeye advice that would change the course and the game. The advice, to take all of the money and buy up as much land as possible in Hong Kong.

A young Yeye with a dream.So, Yeye set on a path to get forged documents to get his family out of China during the war. I don't know why (and need to find out why) but he had to go to Venezuela to get the papers all sorted. Our family name was then changed to Chan so that the family could escape China and get to Hong Kong.

And to Hong Kong he went, bought empty packets of land... And watched as Hong Kong exploded in population. This enabled him to provide for his growing family and have the means to send each of his children to top schools in Hong Kong and to pay the tuition for post-secondary education in Canada.

My dad stayed in Canada to work and after about a year of snail mail love letters to my mom (whom he met on a tour in Thailand), they would marry and shortly later, I'd come into this world.

I don't recall my childhood in Hong Kong but there are many pictures from the 80s posted into picture frames and underneath glass tops on desks all around the flat as well as pictures documenting all the grandchildren growing up. Even the awkward teen picture (haha).

Going back there with more understanding and reflection leaves me in a place of so much gratitude for the rich history of my family. For my great grandfather's sacrifice in leaving his homeland and family for a country he would not know the language, where arduous and back breaking railroad labour would be his day to day, to continue working hard and taking a leap of entrepreneurial gusto and for giving the nugget that would blossom for generations to come. For my Yeye in raising his family with all the opportunities of the world, for my first car (to make getting to school easier for me as I chose a self-directed and self-taught high school with special acceptance nearly 1hr away via public transit), for loving me (he always used to peel my fruit for me after dinner), for being the light that shines for all his family and for pushing each of us to be our best.Mama carefully walks down the stairwell so that she can wave at me while we drive off to the airport (and I want to cry)

My dad being able to do his schooling in Canada would give me the opportunity to grow up with not only the comforts of life but the grand luxury to choose my passion and my path. Being a yoga teacher is definitely a fringe path for an Asian family's child to take and I am only able to do it because of the hard work, sacrifices and love from generations past.

I can only hope that by 2083, I am able to continue forging forward, continue to witness the evolution of self and of the world and to leave a legacy that touches others and changes lives of perhaps my own family.

100 years.
So much can be done.

Yeye and mama's first two kids (my uncle and dad)

A younger Yeye and Mama with their young family.

Mama and Yeye today

My dad as a wee boyA young Kate Mak in Hong Kong playing with water (my favourite)



Full circle

I mention in classes often that yoga and life is a mandala. We experience life in a cyclical fashion and even though we may go through the mandala again, it's completely different because we're different as we stick to a path of continual evolution. 

Amazing yogis working hard

Way back in 2009 when I first started fumbling my way through word and sequencing, I had the great opportunity of meeting Sherri and Warren. Two practitoners that had the most amazing practices and showed me what dedication looked like. They would come to my Tuesday and Saturday classes every week and stand today as part of the original crew of only a handful of students that I met in my early days. It was a bittersweet day when the pair sold all their belongings and cashed it all in for a new life... they travelled the world and ended up settling in Bangkok, Thailand and opened a studio just in the last year. 


En route to Bali for my own retreat, Sherri and Warren invited me to stop by Bangkok to come teach and be their first international teacher to lead a weekend workshop. What an amazing honour to be invited and with zero hesitation, I agreed with so much gratitude. 

Sharing my love of song to get in the bhav

It comes full circle... I got to take a class with Sherri and got to experience the dream in real live technicolour. What an AMAZING studio you have built and what an incredible community of shiny and bright human beings. Yogatique Bangkok is doing something so incredible and amazing. I have practiced and taught all around the world and this studio stands toe to toe with some of the best in its delivery of community, heart, passion, love and understanding. It is certainly a gem hidden in the craziness of Bangkok. 

I am honoured... I am blessed. 
Thank you to everybody who came to play, laugh and share in this yoga I love so much.

Thank you especially to Sherri and Warren for always being a light and pillar of support. For taking a leap of faith in inviting me to come. I loved every second. :)

Here's the playlist set for all four classes... 






The year is 2009 and it's September.

I'm a bright eyed and bushy tailed teacher fresh out of yoga teacher training with absolutely zero experience under my belt and eagerly seeking out work to share in this newfound love of yoga and teaching it.

Enter, Frank T of Sanguine Yoga.

Now, I don't know where life will take me in a year's time or in a decade's time but I will always remember, honour and cherish the fact that this is the studio that gave Kate W. Mak her first chance. I grew up as a teacher in this studio, I found my voice here and it was here that I started to understand the seat of a teacher. There have been many friendships that have formed here and many tears that were shed and many laughs that rang through the class and hallways here.

I remember the first classes I taught and how I would get so flustered, nervous or forgetful that I had my students in child's pose so many times in a class so that I could try to remember exactly what happened. I'll also remember the first time my classes filled to capacity and what a thrill that was for me to experience. Because the first classes I taught, there would sometimes only be 3-5 people. I remember even teaching to just 2 people on a Saturday morning class which near the end of my Saturday run, would fill to capacity and we even had to turn people away.

There are so many emotions that bubble to the surface when I walk down memory lane. Sanguine holds many beautiful moments for me... moments of great joy and growth, moments where I was so vulnerable that I broke down in tears, moments of budding friendships and moments of powerful and earth shattering exposure of the heart.

It has been with extremely careful and lengthy consideration that I am amicably and respectfully bowing out of the studio after nearly 5.5 years of service at Sanguine. I love you all for everything you have taught me (more than you will ever know) and for every moment of raw and amazing humanity that has inspired me so.

I will be teaching the next two Saturdays at Sanguine to the end of January and would LOVE to have you there to share, laugh and groove together. :)

Ever in your service and with so much love.


Kate's yoga teaching schedule