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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Jul 6, 2008

Yoga for All Ages and Abilities

Wow - this has been a busy time. Yesterday I added in the new Kid's Yoga class which makes my teaching day on Thursdays truly about offering Yoga for almost any age, ability or level of experience.

The teaching day started at noon with the "Gentle and Therapeutic" class which is really turning into a wonderful class. I resisted it for quite a while. It is thanks to Jeanne Jacobs and her steady showing up and her clear request that I PLEEEESE keep teaching that class, that I persisted long enough to start to love it. The thing is, I was thinking I had to "teach soft", and my style is naturally more intense, more pitta. But then a funny thing happened - the MS society connected with me (thanks to Robin's recommendation) and started sending people to me for therapeutic Yoga. Ironically, gathering an even more therapeutically challenged student base made me start to love teaching the class. Something about seeing these women on crutches persevere enough to get to class - finally flipped the switch for me. Now I'm really into designing therapeutic classes that serve even people who can't stand and walk very well.

What is wonderful about this class is that it really does seem to "serve students of any level of experience or ability". ( I admit, I don't have classes that serve wheel chair bound or bedridden students - although I know I could teach Yoga to this population). One of the stated missions of Anusara Yoga is to "serve students of any level of experience or ability". At times I've doubted this was possible. But on Thursday noon, some very experienced students with no physical limitations show up and mix it up with the elderly and the incapacitated, and report that they find it very valuable as well as challenging. So I guess I didn't have to "teach soft" in order to address people with limitations. Hooray! - I don't do that very well anyway. In my bodywork career, I also couldn't "work soft" - I excelled at deep tissue work. We all have our range of intensity I guess.

If anyone is interested, some great resources for Yoga for MS are the following links:
Yoga and MS (featuring Eric Small) http://yogams.com/Articals/YogaJournal/YogaJournal-P5.shtm
Postures for Limited Mobility
http://yogams.com/Articals/YogaJournal/Postures-P4.shtm
Yoga for MS - By Roger Nolan - http://www.yogasite.com/ms.htm

After therapeutic Yoga, I had a short break in which I did viparita karani legs up the wall pose) and then went to get fish form Dale (owner of Fish Folks) with whom I trade for Yoga - Fish for Yoga! After that I taught the first kids' Yoga class. Jen has taken on the older kids and I have the 4 - 6 year olds. As always, working with little kids is such a blast. My Teacher, Lee, says that when we serve kids ages 6 and under, we are serving God directly. I love that! And I take it to heart. And of course kids Yoga looks almost NOTHING like adult Yoga! For one thing, it is certain to be unpredictable - the class is MOST unlikely to "stick to the lesson plan"! One little girl didn't want to start right away because she loved her sunbrust T-shirt so much that she wanted a mat to match - and I didn't have any bright pink or bright yellow mats. Two little boys went into "wow look at how strong I am" mode almost immediately. For me, the unpredictability is a joy, pure lila -play.

Next came Core and Pranayama & Bandha Yoga - what a great and steady group that has been! I think we've been together for 18 months now. I love that class. No beginners to Yoga allowed because I don't want to cater to the "work out' crowd - there are teachers and settings that do that much better than me.

Finally came the All Levels class followed by Christina Z's meditation class. That was a great class - what a good conclusion to the 6 weeks. Happily, Christina is offering some more times in the fall.

OK - on to the rest of the day. Fish for dinner - just like when I was growing up! We're gong to try barbecuing salmon on cedar planks. I think I must be hungry -I'm having an urge to write more about food!.

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