5Q interview with Karen Wiggins @yoga.karenwiggins

1. Tell me about your personal journey with yoga. Why is it important to you?: I first casually encountered Iyengar yoga while attending college at UCSD. With my background in dance and gymnastics, yoga seemed like an engaging form of exercise and an opportunity to maintain my flexibility. Over the years, as I cultivated my practice and studied extensively with several inspirational teachers, I discovered that a consistent yoga practice holds so much more than just physical benefits. During my prenatal classes and the labor and delivery of my twins, I truly experienced the benefits of pranayama and the mental awareness that yoga offers. It was at this point that yoga took on a more significant meaning and became the foundation for my daily life. My yoga practice supports me in discovering my presence, balance, clarity, and authentic meaning in all areas of my life. Yoga gently guides me back to the present moment and helps me to maintain awareness and appreciation of the here and now.

2. When did you first begin teaching yoga? What made you transition into a leadership position?: When I took my first Intensive Yoga training, it wasn’t with the intention to start teaching yoga, it was simply to explore my own practice. In 2014, I began teaching yoga to the elementary school teachers at my own school site. I offered a free weekly after-school session to help my colleagues decompress and reset after a long day engaging with students. In 2015, with the support and encouragement of Lauren Duke, I was given a weekly recurring time slot at Yoga + Bergamot. Having over 20 years of public school teaching experience, and being a teacher at heart, the journey into the leadership role of a yoga teacher, seemed a very natural path to follow. For me, teaching the practice allows everything to seamlessly connect, come full circle, and take on a more significant meaning. When I am creating my lessons, delivering the philosophy, and cuing alignment, it in turn, helps me to fine tune my own understanding of the art of yoga, ultimately holding me authentically accountable to practice what I preach.

3. What makes your classes unique? : I love to create and teach thematic classes! The readings, quotes, music, and sequences that I pull together always come back to a common theme. The more in tune I am with my students and the universe, the more applicable my classes are to their current needs. It is important to me to create a warm, nurturing, and supportive environment in my classes. I am careful to provide clear and concise instruction and offer appropriate modifications to make yoga accessible to practitioners of all ages and levels of ability. I always interweave bits of yogic philosophy and stories to try to make the lessons applicable to daily life, since I believe that the true essence of yoga is being able to absorb the practice and take the lessons off the mat. If people are taking the precious time to come to my class, I want to provide a well rounded experience for my students, worthy of their time. For me, teaching yoga is an intensely creative artistic endeavor.

4. How does music benefit your guidance in a yoga class?: Music sets the tone of every human experience and can move the listener in so many profound ways. I enjoy spending of time creating my playlists and using music to enhance my asana sequences. I carefully sequence my selected songs together to provide a combination of meditative, energetic, and uplifting music at the necessary points in each class. Teaching a class with live music is even more inspirational! Over the past year, I have been lucky enough to collaborate with a few different musicians, the inspiring DTO included, to create a unique, one of a kind, experience for my students.

5. Tell me about your next event and where we can follow you online.: My next event is a collaboration of Yoga, Meditation, & Music, entitled “Embrace Change & Celebrate New Beginnings” I will be joining forces with Alexandria Romero and DTO to provide an evening of mindful movement, insightful meditation, and inspirational music. For more information and to register, please visit http://alexandriaromero.com/workshops-classes/

I teach every Sunday 4:15pm at Gather Encinitas and a weekly pop-up sunset beach yoga class, typically Wednesday evenings and hour before sunset at South Ponto. Follow me on Instagram @yoga.karenwiggins for the most current offerings or Facebook Karen Gallon Wiggins.


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