Concord yoga devotees, ask and ye shall receive.
Karen Kenney has long been considered "the yoga lady" by those who know her from a long-running show on ConcordTV, but her full-time practice had always been housed outside the city limits, first in Epsom and later in Chichester.
But after years of gentle encouragement, Kenney made what always seemed like an inevitable move and opened Quest Yoga Studio on Beacon Street in Concord the day after Labor Day. And the Insider was one of the first through the doors.
"Concord is my community. It's where I spend my money, where I spend my time, where people know me, but [my practice] was never there," Kenney said. "For years people were asking me, 'When are you going to come to Concord?' "
So come to Concord she did. Kenney brings her own unique approach to yoga, which she uses in her signature "Quest Flow" classes. Born out of Kripalu - a word that literally means compassion - yoga, Quest Flow blends the physical and spiritual elements of the practice into a single approach.
The goal is to create a class that both novices and veterans alike can enjoy. A self-described yoga "purist," Kenney isn't trying to tie people into knots the minute they step into the studio.
"The beautiful thing is, it's really not about trying to torque people's bodies into an idea of the perfect posture. It's about making yoga work for the individual," Kenney said. "It's not something you do for 60 minutes on a mat. It's really about how do I bring these principles of developing myself to become a more loving and compassionate person into my daily life? You get the physical benefits of the practice, but it's about deepening your relationship with yourself and your spirit. For me, yoga is not about standing on your head, it's about learning how to stand on your own two feet and learning how to give people the tools to navigate the challenges of life."
Kenney has experienced those challenges. Growing up in Lawrence, Mass., her mother was murdered when she was 12 years old. Kenney was then introduced to yoga while attending Boston University in 1988 and later connected with Marianne Williamson, who became her mentor and guided her toward the principles she now embraces.
"One of the foundations of yoga is nonviolence," Kenney said. "It really appealed to me that I could somehow make change in the world. If people knew how to slow down and knew how to breathe and were able to be more conscious of their choices, there'd be a lot less violence in the world. It was a great healing tool for myself."
The atmosphere Kenney strives for is one of relaxation and comfort, where students can enjoy the practice in an individual way without pressure or stress.
"For me, that word "experience" is huge," Kenney said. "[It's] when you create a safe, sacred environment where people feel welcome, feel like it's non-competitive."
Kenney offers a selection of classes at the studio, including a six-week program for beginners, a yoga for athletes class and a Thai yoga therapy session. Class times and sign-up information are available on her website, questyoga.com.