Our Founding - Healing Yoga Foundation

Healing Yoga Foundation was founded in 2006 by Kate Holcombe along with the invaluable support of a handful of key colleagues, supporters, founding board members, and friends. We could not have done it without each of them. 

In 1991, as a student with Colgate University’s Study Abroad Program in India, Kate Holcombe was studying social work in the southern city of Chennai when she was hit by a motorcycle while crossing the street. Mary Louise Skelton (Mary Lou)—co-director of Colgate’s program—had been a long-time student of renowned yoga master T.K.V. Desikachar and brought Kate to him for rehabilitation and healing. 

Sri Desikachar designed a simple practice of gentle movement and breathing practices for Kate, which she practiced daily over the next several months as she healed. When she returned to the U.S., her doctors could not believe how well she had recovered. Soon after, her chronic headaches and chronic insomnia disappeared. Kate becameparticularly passionate about the Yoga Sutra (yoga philosophy) which had helped in many areas of her life and continued her studies of yoga with Mary Lou in the U.S. In 1993, at Mary Lou’s urging, Kate returned to India to continue her studies with Sri Desikachar. 

But Mary Lou’s breast cancer recurred, and after a little more than a year in India, Kate returned to be with her in the final months of her life. Throughout the weeks with Mary Lou and her graceful way of facing the dying process and death, Kate realized how invaluable Mary Lou’s years of yoga study had been. 

When Mary Lou died in 1995, Kate was inspired to share with others the healing benefits of yoga that she herself had received and witnessed with Mary Lou. She returned to India and asked Sri Desikachar to teach her how to help others as Mary Lou had been helped. 

Kate was hired to help lead Colgate’s Study Abroad Program in India and had the good fortune to spend the next several years in Chennai, studying one-on-one with Desikachar every day and interning at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM), the non-profit yoga healing center Desikachar founded in honor of his father in 1976. After nearly 10 years of intensive study with her teacher, Kate returned to the U.S. in 2000. Inspired by and in honor of her teachers—Mary Lou and Desikachar—she brought with her the dream of founding a non-profit in San Francisco based on Krishnamacharya’s teachings.