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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).

Jan 6, 2009

For Yoga Nerds Only

Yoga Asana feels WONDERFUL here – all the heat and humidity make my every muscle and joint happy to practice. And it is easier to open. At home, in sub zero temperatures with 3 feet of snow outside, I'm like winter – brittle. Here I am supple enough to go into complete Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana, lie the back of my head on my shin and sigh in joy – at the very beginning of my practice! At home it's not quite like that!

Also, the rigors of traveling here, such as hauling a pack and sleeping in “interesting” positions, etc. make my body very grateful for Asana. I have been spending a fair bit of time in inversions and backbends. I am really drawn to core work and some pilates work. Also lots of focus on bandha and pranayama. I think the inversions, bandha and pranayama aspects of practice are the most helpful but really it all feels excellent. I am having lots of “aha's” and openings and freshness in my practice. Some of this is probably that I just needed to take some time off from teaching and renew myself in my own practice. I am so grateful.

I brought a Yoga mat – so did Eli - and that was a good idea as it turns out.....we use them a lot. I use it as a meditation seat and of course for Yoga asana, but have also used it just a something to sit on.

Eli brought the same mat he started practicing yoga with. Some of you have seen it at the studio in with the “loaner” mats – its the one that has counting marks at the top in black marker. The thing was – he decided he would go to a John Friend workshop in Seattle if he got enough practice sessions in. He did and he went – he was 12 at the time.

I explored some Yoga Asana Shalas and classes in Cochin – Hatha and Ashtanga Vinyasa. With no disrespect or lack of gratitude, I have to say that I can do better asana study at home in the states. I was not clear about this when I arrived here. And I really wanted to go to Mysore as we had a sweet invitation from David Garrigues (Katie Gehn's teacher). And Katie, who I greatly like and admire, really wanted me to practice at the Mysore Shala for her since she is busy with 3 babies at the moment. Well – that would have been amazing and if Ashtanga was the style I practice, I would not have let wild horses stop me. But now that I'm here and understand – really understand – the nature of travel and just getting around – I have gotten very clear about what I want to focus on, and it is not the study of asana. My whole life at home is so completely about that but here I can do something that I can not do there or really anywhere else I know of – explore the culture and spirituality of the motherplace of my beloved practice. I mean, I think of it this way – for these 3 days, would I rather take Yoga asana classes or be at an ashram where a living saint is in residence? Easy answer for me.

I also find I'm not all that drawn to study or avail myself of a lot of Ayurveda even though Kerala (the state where we are now) is the motherplace of Ayurveda. Here at the ashram they have every kind of Ayurbedic treatment you can name. I took in a couple of classes but then decided to buy some Chyanaprasham – a general tonic made here at the ashram, and stop at that. I'm just not drawn to spend time with that wile I'm here. If I had unlimited time I might do it all, but I have to pick and choose and what I am really drawn to is the culture and spirituality. The two are inextricably wound together. I'm fully and completely happy exploring them both. OK – I'll tell the truth – I'm also drawn to shopping.....althoug I haven't done much. I really want to figure out the mailing thing becaseu the fabrics here are sort of making me go into serious grasping – those bad fabrics. Beautiful cottons, and paschmini and silks. I've only been here 10 days.....who knows what else I'll start craving. Actually I AM craving chocolate – India doesn't seem to feel that chocolate is very important. Strange.

Eli is quite happy with everything we've done so far but I can see that he's going to need a bit more – he REALLY wants to get to the Ocean – soon – to swim. So we are planning that out.

1 comment:

  1. saw on Eli's blog that he got to go swimming!!!! I'm so glad that you are enjoying your own personal practice and spirituality and culture and not making it all about study. I envision my wonderful teacher just getting to go to India to......just.....BE!!!