Movement into Stillness: Fall 10 week special series

Start date postponed so you can still sign up.  New dates: September 19 – November 23

Yoga has been touted in recent years as a healing modality.  It’s said to balance the body, and stabilize mood.  As the seasons shift, these are important issues.  Autumn tends to be stressful – a returning to school and a sudden shift of gears from summer activity to winter’s, dark.  Any seasonal shift brings with it a rash of allergens, digestive stop and gos, changes to sleep and schedule.  But this shift toward winter, in particular, is hard on the body and the nervous system.  It tends to light up sore joints, remind us of aging, bring down all the pressures of the world.

Winter is hard, metaphorically, and physically.  Seasonal Affective Disorder is a fancy name for a very real thing that happens as we lose the long days and spend most of our waking hours in the dark.  I’ve found that other mood and psychological issues are also sensitive to the seasonal shift: depressions darken, anxiety moves more, old griefs return and the monotony of living our lives feels more tedious. Auto-immune issues flair. Our worlds get smaller as we shift from social and community life to staying at home where it’s warm. We lose the freshness of the garden and start to eat stored things.

It’s said that yoga, helps.  Yoga can be, therapeutic.  If it is used that way, taught that way, and understood to be more than yoga asana. Yoga asana can be more than a shape. Yet yoga therapy is distinct from physical therapy, and psychotherapy.  Come learn the how, the why, and the practices.

Yoga therapy is distinct from physical therapy.  AND a therapeutic practice of yoga veers away from yoga as generally taught in classes: postures and sequences done a few times a week are not enough to effect healing (though the insight gained there often launches people off, into a more healing and personalized practice).

Yoga therapy is distinct from psychotherapy.  Partially, in that it so clearly identifies the person as a complex of body and mind.  Yoga sees emotions and moods and experiences as happening on both psychological and physical levels.  But yoga therapy isn’t just a mind-body wellness system, like deciding that exercise and diet will help our moods.  This is true, but it’s only the beginning of understanding the interface of mood, experience, personality, and body.

This ten week series will look at the interface of physiology and psychology, mood and body, through the ancient system of the ‘subtle body’.  It will tie ancient practice to neuropsychoimmunology.  This will be a course on mind-body wellness.  But it will aim at personalizing, practice, as well.

Unlike the summer special series that used the same asana sequence every week, this course will introduce different principals and progressively explore the concepts of vi-yoga (release or purification) and samyoga (connecting to something whole, healing, true).  We’ll work up and down the spine and discuss chakra theory and practice in depth, while coming to understand modern somatic healing techniques.  We’ll develop our yoga practice beyond asana by learning a few new chants, deepening our meditation skills, and coming to understand yoga methodology or practices as working on the physiology, psychology, and behavioral spheres not only through postures but through a range of practices.

If you have any fascination with subtle body and chakras, or any interest in the therapeutic applications of yoga practices, this is a course you should attend.  If you are interested in the way yoga affects psychology and behavior, you should be there.  If you just enjoy learning in more depth than is possible in drop in classes, come.


Practice, Depth. Subscription video now available!

authenticityThis was a long time coming, and a fairly big deal.  And, as things which are a long time coming and a fairly big deal always happen to be, this is so simple.

You can now subscribe to deeper practice videos.  All of Karin’s deep anatomy and deep philosophy, ruthless ditch the sequence and the alignment and find the breath, teaching.  In your pocket, your cellphone, or your living room.

Each week you’ll get a 90 minute asana sequence AND a 30 minute breath/meditation/technique video.  That’s two hours of practice a week, at your convenience, for fifty bucks a month.

More expensive than the freebies on youtube or the other subscription sites, yes.  But I’m not teaching canned vinyasa.  I’m not looking for mass production, but for a way to interact with human beings, provide a context for learning and practice.  This is deeper practice, my teaching, getting the tools and actually understanding what’s going on, feel the difference in your life, stuff.  I draw the people who are called to personal change.  To deep thinking.  To reason, not vapid hippy-dippy stuff.  I teach to people who love yoga but have become disillusioned with the culture and the studios.  To people who realize it isn’t about contortions.  Folks who realize sun salutations aren’t always possible, chronic illness is hard, that there’s something to asana and breath that is NOT about alignment or advanced postures.  I teach to soul and am only really interested in teaching, that.  Let the masses learn, elsewhere.

More expensive than the freebies and the cheapies and the franchised studios, yes.  But, still, you could pay for unlimited classes in studio, and get the subscription, for less than other studio’s class packages.  Those things are two and three hundred bucks.

This is what I believe: learning, healing, the gifts of practice are available to anyone who makes an honest commitment.  But the gifts of practice involve breath, meditation, study, developing body literacy, and intelligence AS MUCH AS ASANA.  Asana are, ideally, paths right up to those other bits.  You could practice postures for years and still be a jerk.  Or, practice postures for years and wonder why you’re still miserable.  Or, practice a certain style for a while and then be lost and confused when illness, injury, or life trouble comes up.  Or, finish your RYT 200 and realize you don’t know diddley squat, yet, and long for more.

We need practices that go to depth, and don’t snag on the superficial.

Put this in your toolbox.  If you miss my teaching, sign up.  If you can’t make studio classes.  If you’ve never been to the studio, but are still drawn to reading and the idea, of having a personal yoga practice.

Yoga is personal.  Take it that way.

The meditation session, freebie from Karin Burke on Vimeo.

Guru Purnima

As the sun sets tonight, I plan on making my way outside to sit in the moon.  Tonight is Guru Purnima: a time in which the ‘guru principal’, or that which dispels darkness and wakes us up, is a thousand times stronger than any other day.  Traditionally, this night marks a time of honoring spiritual and academic teachers.  The ones who saw us, lit us up, called us out.

According to Buddhist tradition, Buddha gave his first public sermon on this night.  According to the yogic tradition, Shiva became a teacher on this day, and Vyasa, the author of the sacred Mahabarata, was born.

I think of the nights I’ve spent laying flowers and candles at the feet of teachers.  But I also think of the happenstance people who’ve helped me on this path, whether they knew it or not.  Whether I knew it, or not.  My folks who didn’t know if it was a decent career goal, but supported my trying.  The girlfriend who pulled me into a class.  My mentors who’ve said, go and see.  Teachers who held space for me to doubt, to cry, to fly and to fall.  In busstops and church basements.  In doctor’s offices and university hallways.  In a parked car, while we tried to get to the bottom of it or simply sat back in quiet wonder.

We are so lucky.  So privileged.  That at some point, a path was shown to us.  Take a moment tonight to light a candle, touch on gratitude, do a little puja (ceremony) to recall the folks, living or dead, who held the light before you.  Thank god, we’ve been inspired.  Good gracious, but we’ve been ignited.  Soak in the principal of light, the dispelling of darkness, the possibility of waking up.  Gratitude to the moon, who ignites women and sages and seekers, those who don’t believe the dark is impenetrable.  May we all know this inner light.  May we never think it ends.

Come chant with me tomorrow morning, and feel the light of bones.

guru purnima


lynchedFor the last week I’ve been writing an essay on privilege, identity, politics, and our own lives.  This isn’t that essay.

This is just saying I am angry, and terribly sad.  I’ve been reaching out to POC friends today.  One said, we’re in a war against black bodies.  And we’re losing.  I feel insane.

I’m hearing them say be safe out there to each other.  I am wildly terrified at the implications of this.


This isn’t small.  It will not go away in a few days or news cycles.  It is important that we grieve, that we feel, and that we take care.  And, it’s important that we do what we can.  I use my physical and meditation practice to feel and realize how I’m doing, what’s happening in my life.  The anger.  The fear.  The speechless grief in my gut.  My physical and meditation practice helps me know, so that I can then stop practicing.  Then, I can be in my life without so much of my own reactivity, apathy, exhaustion, bitterness filtering my world.  I can listen.

On Saturday, 10:30 am, trainees and I will be sitting meditation.  Afterwards, we’ll talk.  We’ll break for lunch around 1.  I want to open that time up to everyone.  Trainee or not.  Yoga student or not.  We have to be able to sit with our anger, our fear, and our confusion.  And, we need spaces in which we can talk, that aren’t facebook.

I’m also thinking we’ll wash the windows of their current signage and get #blacklivesmatter, up there.  I was talking with a cop friend today, about trying to get yoga, in there.  I want to hear from my friends.  I want to hear from my students.  I want to know how I can help.  Not ‘if’.  I want to know how.  I would love to hear from you.

Please consider joining us, or sharing the info with someone who might.  We have candles. We have hearts.  And we can talk.  We can also sit, quietly.

In love,


Movement into Stillness: Fall 10 week Special Series

Sign Up Here, under ‘workshops’.

10 weeks

  • Wednesdays 6-8 pm
  • September 7- November 9 (there are intensives at Saint John’s Abbey the first week and the week following this course, which would make the whole a potent and accelerated experience of yoga psychology and personal interiority).
  • $275

A complete yoga practice involves the whole self, our intellectual bits along with our physical tissues.  The yogic tradition has a wealth of diverse practices designed to speak to all the aspects of ourselves, yet most classes only teach ‘poses’.  The special series teach philosophy, mantra and chant, the skills of meditation, and the balancing nature of savasana and conscious relaxation.

As the long days of summer and heat and light and busy-ness transition to the sharpness of autumn and the depth of winter, our practice should shift toward building immunity and preparing us for the long nights and cold weather.

spine yogaThis seasonal shift moves us from exteriority and a busy life outside, a lot of social engagement, and a quieter, more home based, more still and sweet time of quiet.  This can be a shift toward interiority, sweetness and ritual, reflection and wisdom.  Or, it can be a harshness, a loneliness, a time of brittle bones and repetitive illness.  Emotionally, we can experience stillness as depth and wisdom, or as fear and sadness.

This process mirrors the yogic ideal of ever deepening awareness.  A movement from the superficial to the subtle.  Practice helps us discern the stillness inside movement, the unity underlying diversity, the steady holding center of sanctuary amidst a whirlwind of pressure, change, and time.  This stillness is a soothing of the heart mind field.  It’s called Nirodha.  In the state of nirodha, our agitations fall quiet and we experience our inner light of awareness.  This is revelatory.  It is a light in the darkness.

We’ll take an in-depth study of the neck and cranium along with the throat chakra and the chakras inside the skull.  We detail the practice of jalandhara bandha and its effects on the throat chakra, and the thyroid gland. We study pratyahara (the softening of sensory  awareness), particularly in relation to the eyes, ears, mouth, and throat. We emphasize the importance of the organ of the tongue and introduce khechari mudra to release the upper palate and throat. We practice mobilization techniques to release strain in the neck and shoulder region. The asana practices emphasize the study of inversions including headstand, shoulder stand and plough.  The important word is ‘study’: these are powerful poses, with a thousand variations and ways to deepen our practice, and modifications for various purposes.  Learn, these.

The Yogic Subtle body involves the emotional bodies: the joy body, the pain body.  Trauma, stress, and time impact both the mind and the body, and tend to change the body’s soft tissues.  In light of the effect stress and trauma have on the body, we’re explore the kleshas or afflictions from Patanjali’s yoga sutras.  We’ll understand this ancient rendition of suffering as compared to modern Western psychology and somatic theories of stress and emotional holding. Recommended for yoga teachers, those in helping professsions, and any one interested in yoga for anxiety and depression.

10 weeks of 2 hour long classes, workbook included.  You’ll learn a new set of chants and go on with your meditation development.  Asana will teach the principal of ‘restoration’, with a lot of release of the tissues and the spine, without neglecting the need for strength, inspiration, and fluidity.

  • workbook of background sastras, chants, and key conepts
  • chanting, meditation, and yoga nidra each week
  • learn to balance strong and restorative asana
  • explore the ‘subtle body’ of nadis, chakras, our inner pulse and vital heart
  • sequences focused on immunity, healing, and mind-body wellness