It’s 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and instead of heading to brunch, you’re sitting cross-legged on a mat that isn’t as comfortable as the salesperson promised. While you watch the taut and lean yoga students glide into the studio, toting coconut water and colorful mats, you contemplate how foolish you will look attempting poses amongst such seasoned professionals. Plus, everyone is clad in Lululemon, the new haute-couture fashion for yoga-inspired athletic wear, while you covertly try to scratch off the Nike check mark from your sports tank top and pants.
In most yoga studios, it’s easy to feel like the outcast eating lunch alone in the cafeteria.
But with Charlestown yoga instructor Karen Fabian, the true purpose of yoga remains. Bare Bones Yoga is a no-frills experience where everyone from children to adults can learn how to breathe deeply, relax, and reach their own state of serenity.
“It’s really about showing up and having a healthy experience,” Fabian said. The bare bones of her practice were formed when Fabian was teaching classes inside of a renovated gas station during the early stages of the recession in 2009. She didn’t want people to give up the healthy and beneficial practice just because their wallets were a bit thinner. Thus, Bare Bones Yoga was born.
“I kept the name because it shows my commitment to staying in the middle lane. It’s a very middle-of-the road experience, where people of all levels can feel comfortable. I don’t really practice when I teach. I’m assisting people and watching them to make sure their getting the most out of their session. Bare Bones Yoga comes from my commitment to providing things that are really accessible, like poses and stretches anyone can do,” said Fabian.
Her foundation of keeping yoga simple has made Fabian a sought-after commodity in Charlestown. With hectic lifestyles, Charlestown residents know it’s not easy to detach. But Fabian promises that the effects of relaxation, a quiet mind, a deeper sense of self, and yes, a rockin’ yoga body, are worth the effort. And she makes it easy.
“I see a number of people in my home in Charlestown and that is a great way to build a solid base,” said Fabian, who works individually with people who are recovering from an injury, have some sort of physical disability, or simply want a private introduction to yoga.
The independent teacher also teaches in a number of different studios and settings. She has taught yoga at Boston hospitals, various childcare centers, and will soon be teaching classes at the Charlestown Community Center.
“One of the things I really like to focus on is going to where yoga isn’t. I go to schools and non-profits and I bring yoga to people, and over the years I’ve found this has been a great way for me to get introduced to different people,” said Fabian.
Children’s yoga is also a big part of Fabian’s offering. “Yoga is a way to help them express themselves with their bodies, and to experience its effect on the body. And while they may not make the connection, it’s my job to see show them how breathing helps their bodies,” said Fabian, who is constantly amazed by how children as young as four-years-old can articulate why it’s good to relax.
“It’s great early training for kids to be comfortable being still, and express themselves freely,” she added. But even if you start practicing yoga later in life, it’s never too late to reap its benefits. At the Zelma Lacey House, Fabian conducted a yoga session with elderly women and men, and was able to create a customized sequence done solely while sitting in a chair. She guided seniors through different postures and poses that created the same effects her younger students feel.
“The more options you can give people the more people will take advantage of trying it. The reason people don’t practice is because they think they can’t do it. I like meeting people like that because I encourage them to try a class with me,” said Fabian.
She also created a mentorship program for newer teachers who are looking to advance their practice after they’ve done basic training. Fabian always wished she had a mentor to teach her exactly how to apply the knowledge she acquired, instead of foraging her way blindly. And now, through her program, Fabian makes it easy for hopeful teachers to gracefully fall into a career in yoga. No matter how old you are, if you’ve never done a yoga pose or can stand for hours on your head, it all trickles down to one soothing concept: Bare Bones Yoga.