Jivamukti Yoga's 5 tenets are scripture, bhakti, ahimsa, nada and meditation. So it comes as no surprise that when you meet Cat Alip-Douglas, formerly of the magazine publishing world in New York and now the leading certified Jivamukti instructor and co-director of Jivamukti London, you get a sense of strength and clarity that comes from inner stillness. Her direct approach is refreshing, as is her strong desire to increase well being in others.
It is no wonder that people flock to her classes both in her home town of London and her many retreats around the world. Having been part of Jivamukti London from the beginning, and mentoring for the 800-hour apprenticeship program, Yogi Times is thrilled to have the in-demand Cat on board with our “I am doing it” project. We had a nice chat from good old London town about why she is “doing it,” raising consciousness in communities around the world and her love of English Breakfast tea.
Yogi Times: You have been invited to join the Yogi Times Global Project - "I AM DOING IT" - Which is about raising consciousness with your skills and passion in your community. Can you tell us why you have been "doing it" all this time?
Cat Alip-Douglas: We all have tasks that we “need to do” but for me, being involved in the yoga community, as well as growing it in any capacity required, is something I feel compelled “to do”. I endeavour to participate in whatever way makes the most sense. In essence, where there is space for me to serve, I do my best to be available to pitch in and participate.
YT: How are you “doing it?”
Cat Alip-Douglas: By providing and cultivating the space and the means for the community to gather and be part of the sangha at Jivamukti Yoga London. (Sangha is a word in sanskrit meaning association, assembly, company or community).
YT: What drew you to the Jivamukti method of yoga?
Cat Alip-Douglas: The suggestion to go deeper than the superficial surface of the practice, to ask the important questions that make us more responsible and compassionate human beings.
YT: You currently live in London but hail from New York. Is the London yoga community different?
Cat Alip-Douglas: As a practice, particularly when I travel and teach, I try to notice the sameness in situations, so here it is: Despite the tremendous unraveling that will occur within, students want to find the way back to feeling content and connected. We are looking to break out of habitual patterns that cause suffering within ourselves and others and we are finding ways to do that. Over the last 10 years, discipline and courage is increasingly sprouting in the yoga culture. I see that as the common denominator between NYC and London. I see the surge of the spiritual warriors!
YT: On your website iamthatnotcat.com you mention you worked in magazine publishing. It is possible to have a fast-paced career and a dedicated yoga practice?
Cat Alip-Douglas: Yes, if you want it, anything is possible. But you will need to change your life, or the yoga practice will change it for you, one way or another.
YT: What has been the most defining moment in your life, where you experienced a revelation or major insight?
Cat Alip-Douglas: The Prjanaparamita Sutra or The Heart Sutra. It’s challenging, to say the least, to sum up the meaning of this mantra but let’s just say, looking deeply into the nature of things and realizing interdependent existence of all things enables us to move through this world more consciously and responsibly, knowing that it has a ripple and overlapping effect. As Thich Nhat Hanh has written with such precision: “empty of independent origin but full of everything in the cosmos.”
YT: If there was one thing you would want every student to learn from your teaching, what would that be?
Cat: That it’s not ‘my’ teaching or any teacher’s for that matter. The source of wisdom is inherently within, teachers are simply guideposts, showing the way. But we, as students, walk the path to gain insight. Put the teachings to practice and observe!
YT: Is there any part of your current work that frustrates you?
Cat Alip-Douglas: Mumbo jumbo.
YT: What are 3 key yoga truths you live by and how do you apply them in your daily life?
Cat Alip-Douglas: There are 4 and they are called ‘The Four Noble Truths.’ (The truth of suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, the truth of the path to the cessation of suffering. I personally think it’s a worthwhile investigation on the nature of our existence based on a Buddhist philosophical framework. My habitual reactions to people, situations and things suggest that this is my daily homework for some time to come. To truly understand them would be to apply them!
YT: What are your source(s) of daily motivation?
Cat Alip-Douglas: My husband Phil and the students who show up on the mat every time, whether they feel whole or broken.
YT: What is your go-to pose/food/book/place/song when you need a boost?
Cat Alip-Douglas: Salamba sirsasana (headstand) and a good cuppa English Breakfast tea with almond milk.
YT: Your tattoos are fabulous! Do they have any reference to your spiritual journey or your yoga practice that you would like to share with us?
Cat Alip-Douglas: Thank you! Nothing astronomical or existential except that personally, the yoga practice presents itself in the process of getting them done!
YT: If you could wake up tomorrow and do anything else what would you do?
Cat Alip-Douglas: Simply to ‘wake up’ and be awake. That would be more than fantastic!
YT: Any last words of wisdom?
Cat Alip-Douglas: Wisdom through experience, put it all to the test and equally be prepared to change your mind.