​​​​​​​​​​​​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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About 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Hi, I'm Kara. I enjoy sharing modalities 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 almost three decades and movement arts since childhood - with discipline dance training and performing in my local dance company.  My wellness & spiritual focus began two years after I graduated from college when I moved to California from the east coast to attend massage therapy school - after years of confusion, self-loathing, toxic habits and an overall unhealthy way of life finally came to a peak and manifested in over exercising, an eating disorder and depression.  To make a long story short - I was disconnecting and dissatisfied with life as I knew it and I was having some inner experiences that I really didn't have a context for due to my upbringing.  This was before the explosion of internet & social media where yoga, wellness & spiritual/metaphysical disciplines became mainstream, so I was living a predominantly conventional & unbalanced life.  California being a haven of diverse, culturally rich movement, health & spiritual disciplines - exposed me to a new way of being and elicited my yearning for a deeper understanding of myself and led me to explore the metaphysical arts for healing and spiritual connection.  I explored many modalities and spiritual traditions and my studies focused on yogic disciplines, vedic philosophy, ayurveda, massage, energy healing, middle eastern dance and other healthy lifestyle practices. 


Bereft of cliches, often sensationalized claims common in the wellness and spiritual world - about how this or that transformed my life and can transform yours, I approach wellness & self-development tools in an honest, practical, down to earth manner. Nothing is a quick fix. Peak experiences that come on quick are transient.  It's not about having an "experience".  It's a process that gradually unfolds. Wellness is self-care not self-indulgence.  Yoga is not about having fun, wearing glow in the dark body paint, or being entertained or pampered.  Healing and self-growth take time and just because we've come a long way doesn't mean we don't have a lot of more work to do or that we won't fall down - again and again.  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.  And as Ram Dass has said “If You Think You’re Enlightened Go Spend a Week With Your Family”.   

While emphasizing dedication, discipline and patience, I acknowledge and honor where everyone is at - promoting self-acceptance and meeting clients & students at their own pace - although gently nudging & inspiring them.

My bodywork education began at Alive and Well Institute of Conscious Bodywork in 1995.  It was much more than bodywork training, but also an atmosphere of healing, loving support, spirituality and aimed at developing our whole being.  Over the years, I received additional 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 bodywork sessions are nurturing, intuitive, detailed, catered to the individual and influenced by several decades of practice. 


My initial experience with yoga began with some books, videos and general classes.  Massage school and being in California in general, introduced me to many things health & spiritually related.  I began a deep interest in exploring  my spirituality, wellness & self-help/development tools - soaking up many spiritual and new agey books, dabbling in this and that, and also started reading books on eastern thought.  I was taking various yoga and dance classes and also began studies with Magaña, Walt and Devi Baptiste in yoga and middle eastern dance.  Magaña was one of my dear mentors, embodying the spiritual dimensions of yoga and dance.  The San Francisco Baptiste Center was truly 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 pursuit of Vedic disciplines has been extremely blessed by ongoing tutelage under Indian Masters, including realized Nath Yogis and Siddhas, Vedic Monks & Scholars, & Ayurvedic Doctors.  I am a lifelong 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 yoga as a "trade" or something to receive credentials in 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 finding my unique voice and involved unlearning certain modern influences.  I presently teach in my own space outside of the modern studio model through a 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 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.

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 until 2012.  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 discovered the Vinyasa Krama system (firstly through the Hansa lineage of Swami Vidyadhishananda) - 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.   I had wondered why vinyasa had not been taught like this and why it was not more well known.  After this experience, I shifted my personal practice and started using it's influences in my classes.  I felt I could not go back to practicing vinyasa any other way.  I 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 to Vinyasa Krama of the Hansa lineage.  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). Pam authorized me to teach VK in 2014 and soon after I attended a certification program with Srivatsa Ramaswami in Core Vinyasa Krama and Yoga for the Internal Organs and have also taken online workshops with him.  Pam has mentored me for several years in precise detail of vinyasa krama and its nuances. 

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.

I attended a Trauma Informed Yoga training with Uprising Yoga that focuses on teaching to the incarcerated, at-risk youth and underserved communities.  It was intense information and I hope someday I have an opportunity to work with those communities.  I was a bit disappointed to learn that certain violent and triggering language and practices are commonly used in modern yoga spaces.  I realized that a traditional teaching approach was already intuitive and accommodating, but it was a heart expanding experience and another reminder of the unseen trauma and struggles many people may be carrying around.  

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.

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, Dhyana 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.

Ayurveda has 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.