Sharmila Desai was first introduced to Ashtanga yoga by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath when she visited Mysore in 1997. She has continued to study regularly at the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute and is one of few worldwide to be Certified by the Institute to teach the Ashtanga yoga system. Her most recent book Yoga Sadhana for Mothers published by YogaWords and co written with Anna Wise is the first book on the subject of Ashtanga Yoga, pregnancy, birth and motherhood drawing from the oral tradition of her Guruji's family and shared experiences from many of his most devoted women students.
Sharmila comes from a matrilineal line of renowned Indian artists and intellectuals, who raised her with the importance of spiritual discipline and ancient art in contemporary daily life. The book Sristi published by Trolley Books in London documents her dance lineage and chronicles her performances worldwide with contributions from Karole Armitage, Olivier Berggruen, Jeffrey Deitch as well as Sting and Trudie Styler.
On graduating from Columbia University, Sharmila was awarded the Henry Evans Fellowship to set up a dance program for street children in Mumbai, India. She has also taught yoga therapy workshops to the Southall Black Sisters in the UK and to South Asian Youth Action in Queens, New York. In 2015 she was the keynote speaker on YogaAsana at the Hindu Temple Society of North America for International Yoga Day.