March Spotlight – Karen Walker


Karen WalkerHi, I am Karen Walker. I have been attending Sarah’s yoga class for over 5 years. I thought that yoga was twisting your body into a pretzel so I would not be a good candidate. Sarah convinced me that my perception was completely wrong and to try it. Or as Sarah would say “No worries”.  Within a few months, I noticed improvement in my balance, strength, and flexibility.

My husband Terry and I have two adult children and three grandchildren. My leisure activities are physical as well as social and involve our family and friends. I enjoy cross country skiing, snowshoeing, crew (or rowing) in an 8 person boat, kayaking, hiking, and backpacking. I am a recently retired Occupational Therapist having been employed for 31 years as program director and faculty at Grand Rapids Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant program. I volunteer at Family Promise, Ability Weavers, Wittenbach Wege Nature Center, and Ada Congregational Church. Family Promise is an interfaith hospitality network that provides emergency shelter and solutions for families facing a housing crisis. Ability Weaver is a store in Lowell that sells woven products made by weavers with special needs. Wittenbach Wege Nature Center of Lowell schools provides hands-on nature programs. I participate in the classes for 3-6-year-olds called Tiny Trekkers.

As I age balance, strength, and flexibility are important for my health. I appreciate Sarah’s attention and response to our needs as she leads our yoga classes.

Certified Therapy Dog Visits the Hammock Yoga Studio

It is an honor to have a certified therapy dog come join us for restorative yoga. Sam is Kathy Walsh‘s certified therapy dog who works for programs in hospitals and libraries. It is extremely relaxing to have the therapy Sammy around during the yoga class. He is a gentle, and loving therapy dog!

What is a therapy dog: Unlike a service dog, a therapy dog is a pet trained to interact with many people other than its handler to make those people feel comfortable, relaxed, focused, and decrease anxieties. Therapy dogs are only allowed into places like hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and libraries by prior authorization.

What are Chakras in Plain English?

The chakras are seven energy centers in your body that affect your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. When you begin to work on your chakras, your energy begins to flow upwards. Many people’s chakras are not balanced. They are often blocked, overactive or inactive, resulting in confusion, depression, imbalances, and low energy.

How to balance your chakras is a good question.  Through movement, breathing, and sounds help to move the energy in the body into the right directions which can help you to be more positive, have peace, clarity, energy, and balance within your life.

Here are some yoga poses to help you balance your chakras:


How to Experience Yoga in a Welcoming Environment

How to Experience Yoga in a Welcoming EnvironmentYoga students typically seek out a quiet, tranquil, and breath-focused environment with minimal distraction. Here is some etiquette that can help maintain calm:

  1. Arrive early…it helps you to get in the right mindset, and it won’t interrupt others.
  2. Plan to stay for the whole class. It is very disruptive when someone gathers their belongings and opens doors to leave.
  3. Leave your shoes at the door or on the trays. This shows a sign of respect and doesn’t get the floors wet during inclement weather.
  4. Leave your cellphone outside the room. That way you won’t disturb the other students and it won’t distract you from being present.
  5. Bring water, towel, and if possible, your own mat.  Drink your water at the end, as through the yoga practice your body builds a digestive fire, necessary to break down food. You want to keep that fire going during the yoga class. A towel can be used to wipe sweat or to use as a prop. Bringing your own mat is great for hygienic reasons and can connect with your personal mat.
  6. Avoid perfume or scented lotion. This could be distracting or disturbing to the other students. Essential oils are fine if used in moderation.
  7. Wear appropriate clothing. Wear something that is comfortable, stretchy and breathable. Modesty is traditionally a part of yoga practice.
  8. Let the teacher know about any physical issues and preferences. Before class is a good time to touch base with the teacher on any issues that may impact your time there. Let the teacher know if you are uncomfortable with hands-on assistance.
  9. Clean up after class. Wipe the mats down and put the props away where they belong.
  10. Be compassionate and don’t judge others. Reactions are not necessary for passing gas or making other noises. Focus on yourself, and be ok with yourself and your practice. Enjoying just being you.


How Essential Oils Can Enhance Meditation and Yoga Practice

How Essential Oils Can Enhance Meditation and Yoga PracticeEssential oils are a great tool for deepening your meditation or yoga practice. One of the ways to help you enter a meditative state is to use essential oils that bring focus, clarity, relaxation, and connection. You can choose a single oil that your intuition tells you is perfect for you at this moment, or you can choose or create your own blends that help you relax. Because of their thousands of benefits, essential oils are able to stimulate deep breathing, therefore improving this aspect of your yoga practice.

The practice of yoga includes holding postures (asanas) and observing prana (life force energy) in the body to strengthen the connection we have to the energy flow in our bodies. Essential oils are known to aid in this process, and further support the practice of yoga through aromatherapy. The quickest ways to bring your body back into balance are through natural therapies such as Aromatherapy, Meditation, and Reiki.

Both meditation and essential oils help to stimulate the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. When paired together they do wonders for managing emotional wellness and releasing negative thoughts and feelings. The more these tools are used, and in conjunction with each other, the quicker we can stimulate the relaxation response when we find ourselves in a stressful situation.