One of my favorite things about Karen’s classes is that they are different each week and we get to try something new. I really like Karen’s attention to the change of seasons and her creating classes to reflect that. I also appreciate how she talks about bringing yoga into our daily lives.
I have been studying yoga with Karen for around three years, including a small class in her home studio. That class focused on yoga for aging. During one of those classes, when we did Mountain Pose for the second time, Karen asked if it felt different from the first time. The first thing that popped into my head was that I felt younger.
Lucy P., Amherst, MA
I started taking Karen’s yoga classes regularly when I started chemotherapy for breast cancer. I continued going twice a week thoughout my chemotherapy and during the many weeks of radiation therapy. My doctors told me that I would experience less fatigue if I exercised during my course of radiation, and I found this to be very true. Karen’s classes have become a wonderful spiritual and physical practice that I am continuing to enjoy now that my treatment is over.
Karen leads an interesting class with postures that stretch every part of the body. I always feel invigorated and happy when I leave. And I am mentally inspired by the short talks or poems Karen offers us at the beginning of each class, about things to notice in nature and in ourselves.
Having a regular yoga practice during cancer treatment has made a huge difference for me. I have reduced the side effects of fatigue and anxiety. And, I feel connected with my good health, and my personal and physical strength. I look forward to continuing Karen’s yoga classes to help me maintain my vitality, now that I am cancer free and 68 years old!
Amy E. Kahn, Psy.D., Amherst, MA
Karen is an extraordinary teacher and her alignment-based style of teaching has had profound benefits for me. Movements are slow, and muscles are always strengthened before they are extended or stretched. In four private and four group lessons last summer I was able to raise my arm straight up for the first time in 12 years. Later I realized I was clapping joyfully at a concert. I hadn’t been able to clap for 5 years because of some very sensitive nerve in my left hand. My hands are both stronger, as are my wrists. For years I did yoga poses resting on my fists. Now my hands are flat on the mat.
Farnsworth Lobenstine, Amherst, MA
Yoga?! Are you kidding? I’m 70 years old and retiring. You seriously think there’s a rosy future for these sedentary old muscles? Well, that was two years and it seems like a lifetime ago. How did I make it to 70 without yoga and without Karen?
In the two years since overcoming my teen-like contrarian skepticism, my range of motion has expanded, my strength and flexibility have increased, and I am learning how to achieve an alignment of bones and muscles and organs that has come to feel like the way the human body was meant to arrange itself in space. And as life-changing as those physical gains have been, they’re not even the best part.
Yoga gives you a whole new relationship with your own body and brain. Imagine being introduced to the tiniest muscles you never knew you had – muscles that, once you fix your mind on them, respond to your subtle urging and suddenly improve your balance. Imagine coming to recognize invisible flows of energy within you that spark the surprise connections between your brain and your body and allow you to achieve both new movement and new awareness of your own insides. Imagine watching that new awareness of your body trigger new links to timeless human themes – like gratitude or our closeness to the earth.
Not only does Karen walk you through each step at the pace you can tolerate, but also she provides constant encouragement and even careful attention to the interplay between your yoga practice and your own physical and medical conditions. All these kinds of learning about yoga have been a particular delight of my retirement. So I know the elders can do it. I imagine the younger set could, too.
Gail Perlman, Northampton, MA
Karen wandered into my life by way of a short ad I saw in my son’s school newsletter. For the past 6 weeks, I have been practicing in front of and beside Karen in her beautifully peaceful, impeccably clean, and warm home studio in the woods. Yesterday, I was able to use my body in a way I have never done before. It was thrilling! And hope-inspiring! And it made me so grateful for Karen and the space she creates, and the weekly focus areas she invites students to explore. And for the fact that she is quite a bit older than I and yet so much more flexible and strong. All of it makes me want to keep going, continue practicing, and keep getting stronger!
Janet Kaplan Bucciarelli, Amherst, MA
It’s been years, and a second back operation, since I took my last yoga lesson with you. Your move from Princeton to Amherst made regular sessions unmanageable but a chance visit presented the opportunity to join a regularly scheduled class in your lovely, warm and welcoming home studio.
You managed to guide us through a complete session of gentle yet comprehensive yoga that touched every part of my body. You carefully guided us through postures I would have thought unattainable for me, due to my particular limitations and issues with imbalance.
Following the class, I felt relaxed, uplifted, invigorated, and eager for the next session. It will have to wait because of the geography, but I am a patient man. Thank you so much for your obvious devotion to yoga and to helping others experience all that it can offer.
Charles L. Rojer, M.D., Princeton, N.J.
After participating in yoga only sporadically in the past, I found your 7-week summer program in Rangeley, Maine, a wonderful change for my aching body. You made me, a beginner, feel comfortable and welcome, and with your encouragement I’ve been able to do things I never would have thought possible. A private session to deal with problems resulting from carpal tunnel syndrome was a huge help, too. My only regret is that I don’t live close enough to practice yoga all year long with you, Karen. Thank you. I’m already looking forward to next summer!
Liz Atwood, Clinton, NJ, and Rangeley, ME
When I began taking Karen’s classes I was a complete beginner, and this was a perfect introduction to yoga for me: small groups, gentle personal attention, a quiet and serene studio looking out to her garden and woods. Her mindful, focused teaching and the warm environment she creates continue to nourish my ongoing yoga practice.
No designer yoga wear or competitive gymnastics here, just excellent teaching from someone who is herself always learning. Karen’s Anusara-inspired yoga develops flexibility, balance and control. But it also reaches deeper. I started yoga during a long, draining period of family crisis. Karen’s classes have allowed me to identify and trust sources of strength I didn’t know I had, and the lessons have gone far beyond her studio.
Pamela W., Whately, MA
As the glorious summer of 2011 winds down in Rangeley (a piece of heaven I have been enjoying for over 45 years), I think about the things that have enriched my life over these months. They include training a new puppy, a bumper crop of wild blueberries, a kayak trip down the Megalloway River, grandson’s birthday party, spectacular sunrises too numerous to mention and my introduction to yoga with Karen.
I have paid a small price for a physically active life of 73 years…two total knee replacements, two total hip replacements and a variety of other assorted arthritic special mentions. So it was with a sense of trepidation that I first happened onto Karen’s yoga class in early July. I was surprised to find that I could “do it”, in a manner of speaking, and even more surprised to think that I enjoyed it. Thereafter I found myself looking forward to the 3 day a week sessions, combining stress relieving stretching, balancing and strengthening in a gentle and protective environment. Karen comes to each practice fully prepared and committed to lead and teach with a quiet yet challenging style. Karen attempts to bring a larger context into each practice. In sum, during the past 2 months I have become committed to the merits of yoga as one important component of extending my life of physical activity and to remain both high functioning and peaceful in my daily life.
Thanks, Karen. Hope to see you next summer.
Frank Morse, Rangeley, ME