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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).

Aug 1, 2013

Daily Deep

I'm just back from a 10-day meditation-yoga retreat with Paul Muller Ortega.  Retreat is not exactly an apt word for what we do, which is to dive deep into study and practice. It is intense. It is not a vacation but it is a form of pleasure. Sometimes I daydream about just going on vacation - to Hawaii or something- but when it comes down to it I always seem to spend my time and money on practice.  Lucky for me, Chris (beloved husband) is of the same mind, more or less. We are currently looking forward to doing a retreat together this winter. (But we are daydreaming about doing a “real” vacation next summer when we have our 25th anniversary. I wonder if we’ll be able to pull it off).
It is strange how Yoga has pulled me along these last 40 years. I never did have a conscious plan to go deep with Yoga practices. When I took my first Yoga class at 17, I am pretty sure that my main concern in life was to try to be popular (never happened) and to get a boyfriend (also didn't happen in any way I care to remember).
When I looked around me at the retreat, I mostly saw people like me - pulled along by Yoga – spending any extra time and money we have (or don’t have) traveling to see teachers and do deeper practice.
So.....I'm in deep. My husband and best friends are there with me. It's weird. It's great. 
At this last retreat, I saw so many survivors of the Anusara Yoga shipwreck....formerly Certified or Inspired Anusara teachers - lovely friends who bobbed to the surface with me and we found ourselves floating together in the middle of a meditation kula.  Doing deep practice together. It's weird. It's great.

Using the traditional metaphor of the “dying of the cloth”, based on cloth dying techniques from India, the theory of daily practice and retreat practice goes like this:
Twice a day, you do your practice in order to go deep, steep in the brilliance of the dye and get re-Sourced. Practice might include chanting, asana, pranayama and meditation to move the dye - the light of consciousness - through the koshas (layers) of flesh, breath, heart, mind and spirit. But meditation is at the root and core and is considered the "crown jewel" of Yoga. In these twice-daily practices, you take on a more vivid color by vibrating closer to the Sacredness at the center of everything. Then, just as is true in cloth dying practices in India, you do the dailyness of your householder life. This will dry and fade you out but is not a mistake or a loss. It is, rather, intrinsic to the process of the practice and assures that the dye of sadhana (practice) will continue to set more deeply. (House-holding includes all the things we do - like e-mail, and paying bills and returning calls and cooking food and cleaning and doing business and taking care of kids and elders and teaching and so on and on).
It is all part of the practice. That's huge you know!?
Dailyness and life in the world and the way it dries us out and fades our remembrance of the Sacred is not an obstacle or a loss. It is what allows the dye to set more deeply the next time.
Similarly, twice a year, (ideally), you dip deeper into the dye vat - stay there longer - by doing a retreat.  It’s the annual version of the daily practice: Practice at dawn and dusk, of both the day and the year.
So! I am just back from a deep dip. The reentry has been very smooth at home with Chris and in my practice life. It has been a little rough in some outer areas of life. To switch metaphors from dye vat to car mechanics: It’s like I just got a tune up and now I am back on the road and I feel like I’m running a little rough – like maybe I liked it better the way I ran before because it was “normal”. The “new normal” feels rough.
It’s just re-entry. I am used to it. It will pass quickly.
OK – now I am a tuned up car just out of the dye vat and looking forward to the year. Garden Street is humming along – with some new teachers coming on board in the autumn and the “old” teachers continuing to be stellar in their teaching (and I am not exaggerating). AND! Garden Street is now a 500-hour school. The advanced study program begins in January. That has been – and is – a BIG deal.
A little further afield, I am going to Seattle a few times this autumn: to teach at Seattle Yoga Arts with my friends Denise and Rainey……and to take a workshop with Ayurvedic Poet, Matthew Remski.  I’m really looking forward to all of that. 

  About Garden continues to thrive - from the ground up, reminding me of this quote by William James: -  “..... I am for those tiny, invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man's pride.”

Garden Street Yoga has grown lovely connections and rootlets over the years.

I am happy to be home, doing dailyness, running a little rough but smoothing it out in my life as a householding practitioner.  It's weird. It's great.  Thanks for reading.


  1. It'S Always A Joy To Read You Words ( Of Wisdom)...Thank You Karen!

  2. It'S Always A Joy To Read You Words ( Of Wisdom)...Thank You Karen!

  3. Karen-- So much of this blog reflects my life and my similar feelings about, "oh, I need a vacation," but then I'm pulled back into going deeper and learning more. I'm also so very fortunate to have a wonderful supportive husband. I'm thankful for you and your beautiful way of expressing yourself.