​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Hi, I'm Kara.  I enjoy sharing modalities & daily yogic & lifestyle practices that bring vitality, wellness and peace as we face the challenges of our modern living.  I've been a student, practitioner & teacher of the wellness & vedic arts for three decades and movement arts (dance) since childhood.


My interest in healthy living & spirituality began a few years after I graduated from college when I moved to California from the east coast to attend massage therapy school.  Before moving to California I was living a predominantly conventional, unhealthy & unbalanced life. To make a long story short - I was very unhappy & disconnecting and dissatisfied with life as I knew it.  I was having some inner experiences that I really didn't have a context for at that time. This was before social media & the internet explosion (email was a novel thing then) where the human potential movement, yoga & spirituality became well known & mainstream.  Being surrounded with diversity, culture and everything health & spiritually related - exposed me to a new way of being and elicited my yearning for a deeper understanding of myself and led me to explore the wellness, metaphysical & yogic arts for healing and spiritual connection.  

The beginning of my self inquiry was quite magical, but the reality of self work can be very grueling & challenging at times with lots of ups and downs.  So I like to stay away from cliches, often sensationalized claims common in the wellness and spiritual world - about how this or that transformed my life and can transform yours.  Nothing is a quick fix.  It takes time, patience, and a holistic view of our lives - cultivating self-discipline & self-compassion, establishing personal practices and making diet & lifestyle changes.  No one is going to do it for us and no one is going to save us – we can only save ourselves.  So I offer bodywork, wellness, lifestyle guidance & yogic self-development practices in an honest, practical, down to earth manner emphasizing self-empowerment.

Massage School was my intro into the wellness world.  I loved the ambiance of the relaxed learning & healing atmosphere with loving support and community.  I was exposed to many new things which felt very natural to me and organically paved the way for pursuing other wellness and spiritual disciplines that were abundant in the new world around me.  My foundation into massage therapy & energywork began at Alive and Well Institute of Conscious Bodywork in 1995 in beautiful & majestic Marin County for my bodywork education.  Over the years, I received additional massage training at Lifestream Massage School, World School of Massage and Thai Healing Massage Academy.  I received my Reiki Master training with Suzanne Louise and I studied wellness coaching through Wellcoaches.  

My pursuit of Yogic/Vedic disciplines has been extremely blessed by ongoing tutelage under Indian Masters, including realized Nath Yogis and Siddhas, Vedic Monks, Sanskrit Scholars, & Ayurvedic Doctors.  I am a lifelong (more like lifetimes) student and humbled by the vastness of Vedic wisdom and the saintly, compassionate sages who disseminate the teachings. 

I believe in being very transparent about my studies and emphasize how important deep inquiry into someone's background is as well as using discernment when one is navigating through the modern supermarket of commodified, misrepresented and exoticized practices.  My credentials mainly come from discipline daily practices, ongoing studies and in depth learning from authentic lineages and adepts of undiluted, sanskrit based teachings.  I have participated in yoga certifications and teacher trainings in modern formats, but I do not see those as preparing one to be a qualified teacher.  Any discipline takes many years of study before one would be ready to teach - and one does not delve into an art for the sake of teaching, but for the sake of mastering ones potential and living the art.  I had no intention of teaching yoga when I started as it was a part of my personal development as well as an insatiable thirst and yearning for the Divine.  Through my own personal experience, it's hard to relate to modern yoga where anyone can receive credentials without years of deep self-inquiry and other yogic methods & wisdom bestowed by a bona-fide lineage.  The Vedic arts and sciences are comprehensive and require self-discipline and years of study and training in the philosophy and practices with tutelage under a guru and lineage - otherwise the true essence is lost.  Teaching for me has been an ongoing evolution of refining my unique voice and involved unlearning certain modern influences.  I've taught at yoga studios, health clubs, senior centers, retirement homes, schools, local businesses, government staff, retreats, events & private gatherings.  Presently I mainly teach in my own space outside of the modern studio model through a comprehensive, specialized system of practices that build upon one another - in relationship to the larger body of vedic wisdom and it's complimentary lifestyle practices.


My initial experience with yoga was around 1995 where I began with some books, videos and general classes.  I had a deep spiritual yearning so I was soaking up many spiritual and new agey books, dabbling in this and that, and started reading books on eastern thought.  I was taking various yoga and dance classes and also began studies with Magaña and Walt Baptiste, as well as their daughter Devi in yoga and middle eastern dance.  Magaña became one of my dear mentors, embodying the devotional & spiritual elements of yoga and dance.  The San Francisco Baptiste Center was a magical haven in my spiritual journey.  After studying with the Baptistes a few years, I became a member of Magaña's San Francisco Royal Acadamy of Belly Dance Troupe and received certifications in the Baptiste Method of Yoga & Magaña Baptiste Method of Danse Orientale in 1998.

My deepest influence & understanding has been as a devotee, student and initiate of living saint, His Holiness Swami Vidyadhishananda, a highly realized Himalayan Vedic/Siddha monk, Sanskrit scholar and Meditation Master from the combined heritage of Rishi Sages and Nath Yogis.  His Holiness presides over vedic schools and other sanskrit institutions in India and founded the nonprofit Self Enquiry Life Fellowship (Hansavedas) in the west, which is overseen by a monastic council of ordained erudite vedic monks - to preserve and disseminate indigenous Sanskrit wisdom.  I've been under the guidance and transmission of His Holiness since 2012 in a holistic curriculum of Vedic Philosophy and Himalayan Siddha Yoga with initiation into an esoteric siddha practice of advanced pranayama and surya kriya meditation practices within the Himalayan Nath Kriya System of Meditation. My studies include Sanskrit Wisdom Teachings, Yoga/Sankhya/Vedanta philosophy in the Shruti method, Ayurvedic Wellness and High Pranic living based on the soli-lunar calendar, Mindfulness, Nyasa, Yoga Vinyasa Krama, Himalayan Pranayama, & Meditation.  The teachings have clarified much of the confusion and contradictions in our current yoga culture.  The teachings are so clear and profound.

My introduction to Kriya Yoga Meditation (distinct from Patanjali Kriya Yoga & other traditions that use the term Kriya Yoga) was through "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda which ignited my yearning to learn and seek out a living guru for the teachings.  I began with the Self Realization Fellowship's preparatory home study lessons.  After about a year or so I received my first initiation in 2000 under another branch of Kriya Yoga.  Soon after, I met Himalayan Master Yogiraj Siddhanath and studied with him for twelve years.  I was initiated into Kundalini Kriya Yoga, Surya Yoga, and Hamsa Yoga meditation, yogic healing practices and was authorized by Yogiraj to teach.  Kriya Yoga, a system of esoteric advanced pranayama and yogic techniques, known as the lightening path for spiritual evolution, was the foundation of establishing my structured daily higher meditation practice.

I've also been dedicated to teachings & practices within Sri Krishnamacharya's lineage since 2000 - firstly with Ashtanga Vinyasa, studying in Sonoma County and throughout the bay area , as well as developing a discipline personal practice.  I had the opportunity to practice with Pattabhi Jois for a few days during one of his tours in San Francisco.  I attended workshops with senior teachers including an anatomy training with Iyengar and Ashtanga based trainer, Tias Little.  After dedicated study and establishing a discipline personal Ashtanga practice for three years, I pursued my Ashtanga Vinyasa Teacher Training in 2003 at Greenpath Yoga with Clayton Horton.  As vinyasa has also taken on modern approaches, I did practice and teach modern influenced vinyasa for a bit - but was internally conflicted about it's disconnection to the philosophy and principles of yoga.

In 2012 I was introduced to two similar Vinyasa Krama systems and was completely awed by my first experience - I felt so "lit up" with prana in every cell of my body......it was the first practice of yogasana/vinyasa that felt related to my meditation practices due to the conscious breathing pattern, slow movements & pause,  and subtleties.   I had wondered why vinyasa had not been taught like this and why it was not well known.  It aligned with yoga philosophy and clarified my inner conflicts of how modern vinyasa and yoga in general felt contrary to traditional yoga.  After this experience, I shifted my personal practice and started using it's influences in my classes.  I was initially introduced to VK through Swami Vidyadhishananda and was referred to the Vinyasa Krama teachings that Sri Krishnamacharya taught Srivatsa Ramaswami (who studied one on one with Sri Krishnamacharya for over 33 years) as they are very similar.  I immediately bought all of Ramaswami's books and developed my Vinyasa Krama practice at home and soon began studying and mentoring with Pam Johnson (yoga educator, one of Srivatsa Ramaswami's first American students).  Through my studies I realized how comprehensive the system was embodying a true, traditional hatha method with aspects of raja yoga - so it felt a natural companion to my other practices (most importantly this system is transmitted intelligently through bonafide lineages).  I felt it was the perfect complement to serious seekers & devotees with discipline meditation & yogic lifestyle practices.  In 2014 Pam authorized me to teach the system and in 2015 I attended a certification program with Srivatsa Ramaswami in Vinyasa Krama and Yoga for the Internal Organs.  I have also taken an advanced teacher training with him, and take his online trainings & workshops in VK and yoga philosophy.  I continue with ongoing study in VK with Ramaswami & Pam.

As Yoga Vinyasa Krama is also part of the Himalayan tradition taught by the Hansavedas curriculum - I have learned it's connection and subtleties to higher practices of the Himalayas.  Although the VK traditions have slight variations they maintain the same emphasis/philosophy and practice. Through my deep study of this vinyasa and pranayama system, a practice that leads to neuromuscular fitness, enhanced concentration and stillness, with heartfelt sincerity, I am dedicated to sharing this rare science to the modern yoga student.


​My first spiritual teacher was Sai Baba and I immersed into Bhakti Yoga, Bhajans, Seva, and study groups at San Francisco and other bay area Sai Baba Centers.  I traveled to India in 1998 for over three months and resided in his ashrams in Puttaparthi and Whitefield for 2 months. I practiced Ayurvedic Yoga with Dr. Rao's Yoga and Ayurvedic Center while in Puttaparthi. I also stayed at the Anand Ashram in Kerala with Swami Satchidananda practicing Nama Sadhana and spent some time travelling.  The trip was such an amazing experience - hard to put into words - the whole experience felt like Divine Providence.  India feels like home and my future plans are to spend a significant time there for holy pilgrimage and study.

I received my Yoga Nidra Certification at the SF Sivananda Center with Dr. Marc Halperin (founder of California College of Ayurveda).  Knowing the personal benefits and it's importance in a holistic approach to yoga, I wanted to take a course to feel more comfortable guiding sessions.  Yoga Nidra helps remove disturbances, compliments other practices and is a more accessible way for many to experience a meditative state.  I chose the training from Dr. Halperin as it seemed more traditional as opposed to some western practices.  In my guided sessions I also use the work of Swami Satyananda, a realized yogi and leader in bringing an accessible approach to yoga nidra to the west.


I attended a Trauma Informed Yoga training with Uprising Yoga focused on teaching to the incarcerated, at-risk youth and underserved communities.  Knowing how to approach teaching specifically to the at risk community needs to be discerned from teaching yoga to other populations.  A traditional approach to teaching yoga is already intuitive and accommodating in general to the majority of us as we all have some kind of trauma.  And "tools" to treat trauma even in psychotherapy & clinical settings, etc are actually taken from the yogic and eastern traditions - so yoga itself does not need to be trauma informed, it treats trauma if practiced correctly.  The modern day brands & styles and the way yoga is often facilitated is unfortunately what has caused an obsession with the whole "trauma informed" concept.  Modern practices are often missing fundamental sanskrit guidelines & practices and are approached through a western lens.  I was disappointed to learn in the training that certain violent and triggering language and practices are commonly used in modern yoga spaces.  The training itself seemed to just add yogic tools to a misappropriated, colonized "yoga" practice.  However, it was a very informative background into the at risk, incarcerated communities and justice system.

Ayurveda has also been alongside my yoga studies and I had the opportunity to work as a back office assistant to Dr. Helen Thomas (Ayurveda, NAET, Chiropractic), in 2004, soaking up Dr. Helen's knowledge of Ayurveda and working hands on with herbs - including small batches of handmade herbs from India.  Dr. Helen trained me in Shirodhara and I received my Shirodhara Certification with Dr. Narendra Pendse.  I'm trained in marma therapy through an in-depth program with the Marma Institute of Ayurvedic Acupressure (Dr. Anisha Durve, Dr of Acupuncture & Ayurveda, co-authored a marma book with Dr.Lad).  I am pursuing an Ayurvedic Certification program through the American Institute of Vedic Studies (Dr. David Frawley) and ongoing continuing studies with other traditional renown ayurvedic teachers.  Ayurvedic wellness - high pranic living is also part of my studies with Hansavedas.

My teaching approach is grounded in the directive that "yoga is a superscience - it shouldn't be practiced casually".  I am dedicated to traditional teachings, self-study, upholding the integrity of yoga and lifelong studies in consciousness and healing.  Knowing the importance of maintaining a personal daily yogic/ayurvedic regimen, my goal is to guide, give the tools needed and empower students to build sustainable home practices of yoga and wellness.  Students who are looking for something authentic and deeper than a workout or a new trend, and ready to commit to a regular practice, will resonate with my traditional approach.  Having been trained extensively with Himalayan yoga adepts in ancient esoteric disciplines using the breath as the guide for transformation and self-empowerment, I am devoted to emphasizing the importance and power of the breath.

​We can't heal/change the world (even the Masters don't proclaim that), we can only heal/change ourselves.  It's a lifelong journey of self-maintenance and growth. 



About 

​​​​​​​​​​​​Kara is one of the most steadfast and passionate teachers of authentic traditions of Yoga I know. 


When the popularity of yoga in the modern world, turned yoga into a mere consumer product, that reduced it to physical practices seemingly removed from its roots, context and meaning, Kara stood up and vowed to stand by the most relevant and inner dimensional teachings of authentic Yoga. 

​She had years of practice and teaching of the more physical forms of yogasana, which slowly dissolved when she encountered the expansive, contemplative, and, carefully choreographed Vinyasakrama teachings of S T Krishnamacharya, here she found her passion and became devoted to this far-reaching and systematic Nata practice that strengthens and inspires pranayama while including the applications of movement, mudra, and bandha.

Studying with Kara you will get detailed, unyielding and trustworthy instruction of all things Yoga, it will change your life.


Pam Johnson

http://www.pamjohnsonyoga.com

Founder/Artistic Director Breath the Pulse of the Universe

http://www.breaththepulseoftheuniverse.com

Founder/Heights School of Yoga

http://heightsschoolofyoga.com

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