More About Karen




More About Karen




Dr Karen Kirkness is the author of Spiral Bound: Integrated Anatomy for Yoga and founder of Meadowlark Yoga in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Karen is an E-RYT 500, YACEP, and Senior Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance Professionals. She holds an MFA & MSc in Human Anatomy from the University of Edinburgh. Originally an Ashtangi, Karen has been practicing yoga since the late 1990s. 

Karen now holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Medical Sciences with a focus on anatomy pedagogy and complexity theory in the UK medical curriculum. Karen is a committed movement educator passionate about facilitating healthy outcomes through guided self-practice.

My yoga journey started with Ashtanga in the late ’90s when I landed on the mat for the first time in college at the University of Central Florida. Between then and 2017, I undertook 7 trips to India to study with the Jois family and other senior Ashtanga teachers.

My western Ashtanga teachers are David Keil, Sarah Hatcher, and Dena Kingsberg, who I will always consider my teachers even though my practice has fundamentally shifted. I have trained with Janet Balsaskas in her Active Birth method, and have recently studied with Dr. Sarah Duvall as a Pregnancy and Postpartum Exercise Specialist. I did my 200 Hour in 2003 with Paul Dallaghan at what was then known as Centered Yoga in Koh Samui, Thailand.

Along the way, I have learned a lot from other Ashtangis who were innovating the method and/or leaving it entirely due to age and injury. As a keen cyclist and adventurer, injury was part of my general addiction to intensity. Multiple knee surgeries and a broken wrist, amongst other lessons, helped me to understand that adapting one's practice in light of healing is paramount.

Years after moving to Scotland to get my MFA, I studied classical Human Anatomy at Edinburgh University for my second Master’s degree, an MSc in Human Anatomy. The experience of studying classical anatomy as a mature postgraduate student in the dissection lab was spiritual, academic, and deeply humbling. 

I now serve as an educator at Hull York Medical School, primarily delivering embryology content for the Gateway to Medicine Program & Anatomy Department as well as the Lifelong Learning Programme at the University of York.  

The integration of Eastern and Western body concepts fuels my teaching of anatomy. This fascia-aware approach keeps me grounded in geometry and in this, I share common ground with my co-author and friend, Joanne Avison. You can get to know more about this collaborative exploration of fascia and its patterns via John Sharkey's dissection retreats to which we contribute as guest faculty. I have been commissioned by the Fascia Hub to produce a number of presentations steeped in embryology, spirality, fascia, and movement; find them here. 

My favorite ways to explore anatomy are through movement, body painting, making models, and getting hands-on with kinesthetic learning techniques. My teaching practice is about facilitation and empowerment. I seek connection with each student to help them discover how to joyfully progress in their practice while minimizing risk. I love giving (and receiving) yoga adjustments crafted through personal experience, research, and creative play. I deliver Spiral Syllabus teacher training courses with a focus on personal growth informed by critical dialogue, consent, defined scope of practice, and healthy working relationships.

I work with functional movement themes in rotation seated in the spectrum of soft tissues as informed by my extensive study of the body in research and practice. As a movement teacher, I see the body as a nonlinear matrix of spirals, and my work is centered on the spiral as a natural motif. My contribution to the yoga anatomy conversation is in the form of what I call the Five Filaments, a fascia-aware system for codifying biomotion into practical terms.

I work mostly from my home in the Scottish Borders, where I live with my family. We love being outdoors and keeping well through play in connection with Nature. You can practice with me in my home shala via my offering through Tweed Valley Wellness. I also offer mentorship and further CPD opportunities, all of which you can find in "links" at the footer of this page.