Who’s that girl?
Well, she’s from Canada and she’s teaching yoga in Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead! Check out Karen’s 840 hour teacher training certifications here and find out all you need to know about Karen Marsh below in an interview with author, journalist, life coach and yoga teacher Louise Thompson of Positive Balance.
How did you come to yoga?
I’ve always been the sort of person that likes to keep fit and to be healthy. I was a regular at the gym, but I hadn’t tried a yoga class before. My first introduction to yoga wasn’t all that inspiring, actually. I tried a very gentle class at first that mainly just focussed on breathing and stretching – apart from feeling very relaxed at the end of it, I didn’t feel any other kind of connection to it. So, I decided to give a ‘Power Yoga’ class a try, and found this to give me the physical challenge that I was looking for, but still that spiritual connection to yoga was missing. Finally I discovered a yoga class that gave me everything I was looking for. The deep stretching, the quiet concentration, holding the poses for longer all made me understand why proper breathing is so important. And the intense concentration to hold difficult poses makes you look inside and dig deep to appreciate your strength of spirit and body. I also learnt that yoga not only helps to build and stretch the muscles and joints, but that it also helps you to be present in the moment and to calm your mind. It also massages your internal organs and soothes and calms the nervous system. I was absolutely hooked!
When did the yoga bug really get you?
I think that the yoga bug really got to me when I went to India. India was an amazing and positive experience for me. It gave me time to reflect on what I truly wanted from my life, and it was here that I realised that yoga was more than just a hobby for me – I wanted it to be my whole way of life and my living. I started to drop bad habits and things that were blocking my path, such as smoking, excessive drinking, negative people, etc.. I dove into my practise! I wanted to know as much as I could about different styles of yoga and yoga philosophy. I undertook my Sivananda teacher training course in India – it taught me so much and deepened my love and connection to yoga and strengthened my purpose. I feel like I have found the path I was meant to travel. I feel my connection to the universe now and I am able to welcome all of life’s changes and challenges. I can now see that we are never as wise as we can be, we never stop learning and when you find your love you just want to tell everyone and try to spread your passion. Every day I look to yoga to understand myself and life. It has quite literally transformed my life!
How has yoga transformed your life?
Well, to be honest, I found yoga at a time when I was feeling that my life was unfulfilled and a bit empty. I was working in the hospitality industry, and whilst I enjoyed elements of that, I knew that I wanted more out of life. It felt like I was only experiencing a tiny part of all that life had to offer. But the more I started to practise yoga and to connect with it spiritually and emotionally, the more I felt alive and at peace. Yoga gave me a greater sense of self-awareness and the ability to see my life more clearly and make the changes that I needed to make for the better.
When people ask you, “What is Yoga?” what do you say?
I usually tell people that yoga is a form of exercise for both the body and the mind equally. It works from the inside out! It strengthens, lengthens, stretches and tones the muscles and lubricates the joints. It exercises and gives rest to the heart and improves the circulatory system. It is absolutely amazing for strengthening and keeping the spine flexible and it helps the internal organs to function more efficiently. It is a non-violent form of exercise that quite literally anyone can do, irrespective of age, gender or body weight and shape. Everyone can benefit from yoga. Yoga combines deep breathing and relaxation with the exercises to restore energy and vitality, which gives rest to the body and mind and relieves stress. Too often in our modern life we are too busy to relax properly and take care of ourselves. We don’t tend to give rest and relaxation the priority it deserves, which is crazy as the body and mind desperately need it in order to function at its best. The beauty of yoga as a holistic system is that it will give the practitioner a sharper mind, healthier body and a more relaxed and overall sense of wellbeing.
What can people expect from one of your classes?
I think people can expect to leave my class feeling both energized and relaxed. It is possible to be both! I hope to combine enough of a challenge to engage the concentration and interest of each person whilst also being sensitive to the ability and needs of the people in my class. It is important that they leave feeling good and motivated but not defeated. I try to create a non-competitive and non-judgemental atmosphere. I hope to engender in students a deeper connection, appreciation and contentment with their body. I hope to give people a sense of wonder and enthusiasm for the challenges of the body and the mind. Overall I hope people leave feeling a sense of calm, acceptance, and wellbeing and with a desire to learn more about themselves and yoga.
What do you love most about teaching yoga?
What I love most about teaching is seeing people enjoying yoga. I love to spark that interest or excitement about yoga. When I see someone so happy because they have found something that they can connect with or when they have a big smile on their face because they challenged themselves and achieved something that they thought they couldn’t, it makes me so happy because I love to see their spirits soar and their minds open and change. What could be better than sharing your passion with like minded people? I also love the feeling of unity in the class. It is amazing to watch the energy, breath and movement flow together like one big thing or organism. It’s pretty cool… like being the conductor of an orchestra!
What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
That you don’t need to be flexible in order to give yoga a go! Flexibility comes with practise. I think people naturally resist trying what they perceive they are not good at, but the beauty of yoga is that progress happens at the individual’s own pace the more they practise. Also, I wish that everybody knew that yoga is addictive! Nobody believes they will become an addict of anything the first time they try it but each time it’s repeated, the feeling gets stronger! Enjoying the high of yoga is the best!