FEATURED TEACHER OF THE MONTH
Karina Karpani Klang
Interview by Sarah McElwain
Karpani has been practicing Yoga for a decade and is certified to teach Integral Yoga Level I and Yin Yoga. As an architect, Karpani was initially inspired by the precision, depth, and adaptability of the Integral method, which she sees as the architecture of Yoga poses. She has a strong interest in anatomy, body alignment, Ayurveda, and poetry.
What is your definition of Yoga?
Yoga can be defined as a holistic lifestyle, promoting well-being and positive development. But among Western Yoga practitioners it is easy for the priorities to slip and the practice to become about results more than development. To borrow a common saying, we’re talking the talk and not walking the walk.
Yoga is also about how you live your life in all contexts. For me, Yoga suggests the following: Be honest with others and yourself. Be true to who you are. Be kind to your body. Don’t hurt the people you love or even the people you hate. Don’t take something that belongs to someone else. Offer help to others in need without expecting anything in return. Be happy with what you have. Keep an open, flexible mind. Practice nonjudgment, try new things, and roll with life’s punches.
What do you love about Yoga?
I love Yoga because anybody can practice it. It is a healing, strengthening, calming, and empowering practice that offers something for everybody, regardless of their age, gender, race, size, shape, or background. Even if you don’t practice asana in class, you can practice Yoga in your daily life. Yoga isn’t just about flowing through a series of asana, twisting yourself up like a pretzel, going upside down, and sweating, although that part can be super fun and highly beneficial both physically and mentally.
Why do you teach Yoga?
Because I can take part in something I believe in. I engage myself in Yoga. This engagement brings happiness and meaning into my life. It’s hard not to be inspired by the happy faces of the students after a Yoga class. I care about people and hope that my classes help someone else to be happy or to suffer less.
I like to make people feel good about themselves in my classes. I habitually acknowledge and compliment the students who have gone out of their way to excel and progress. In life you get what you put in. When I make a positive impact on someone else’s life, I also make a positive impact in my own life.
Books have had a huge influence on who I am as a person. They are sources of inspiration that have helped guide the most important decisions in my life: how to become a happy, healthy, positive person. I like to share the influences that shaped me so that others can also benefit.
What are the particular areas of Yoga you are teaching in now or in which you have created your own, special offerings? What attracted you to those areas?
I teach Yin Yoga—a quiet, meditative Yoga practice, also called Taoist Yoga. Yin focuses on lengthening the connective tissues and is meant to complement Hatha practices like Yang Yoga. Yin poses are passive, meaning that you let the muscles relax and allow gravity to do the work. They’re long (from three to five minutes), so students practice patience, too. That is why I focus on Raja Yoga during the class, to keep students focused on meditation and contemplation, to help them achieve self-realization and the purposeful evolution of consciousness.
What do you hope students will receive from you as a teacher, and what do you hope students will get out of your coming offerings and workshops?
Even though most students come to Yoga for flexibility, stress relief, health, and physical fitness, I hope that my students’ primary reason for practicing Yoga will change to that of spirituality or self-actualization, a sense of fulfilling their potential. Yoga offers self-reflection, the practice of kindness and self-compassion, continued growth, and self-awareness.
Often people tell me that they want to try Yoga but aren’t “flexible enough.” I tell them that Yoga isn’t about coming into a perfect shape or looking like that girl on a magazine cover. Use as many blocks as you need. Modify the pose so that you feel comfortable in your own body. It’s not about being “flexible enough”; it’s about removing any judgment and being present and true to who you are now. I hope they will feel present all the time, not just on the Yoga mat but with other people and the community around them.
Yoga can change your heart—and I’m not talking about just blood pressure.
Do you have a favorite book or Yoga mat or product that you like, something you sincerely enjoy and wish to share with the teacher sangha?
My friend is an acupuncturist who works at IYINY and comes to my classes. I asked her for books about Chinese medicine to deepen my understanding of Yin Yoga, and she gave me Discovering the Five Elements One Day at a Time, by Janice MacKenzie. This book is a daily inspirational reminder of the wonder of the seasons and how we spend our days. Sometimes I read parts of it to my students in class. And Between Heaven and Earth, by Harriet Beinfield: a very easy to read, understandable guide to the mysteries of the ancient healing system of Chinese medicine for nonprofessionals.
Ongoing classes at IYI: Yin Yoga Wednesday at 1:15 p.m. and Level I Thursday at 9:15 a.m.