More About Karen




More About Karen




Dr Karen Kirkness is the author of Spiral Bound: Integrated Anatomy for Yoga and founder of Meadowlark Yoga (2012 - 2024) in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Karen is an E-RYT 500 YACEP with the Yoga Alliance. She holds an MFA & MSc in Human Anatomy from the University of Edinburgh and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Medical Sciences, focusing on anatomy pedagogy and complexity theory in the UK medical curriculum. Karen is a parent and 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 trained with Janet Balsaskas in her Active Birth method, and recently studied with Dr. Sarah Duvall as a Pregnancy and Postpartum Exercise Specialist. I did my first yoga teacher training 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. Spiral Syllabus is a place for learning about movement as healing.

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. The integration of Eastern and Western body concepts fuels my teaching of anatomy. 

I now serve as an educator at Hull York Medical School, primarily delivering embryology content for the Gateway to Medicine Program & Anatomy Department. The Fascia Hub has commissioned me to produce several presentations steeped in embryology, spirality, fascia, and movement; find them here. 

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 based 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.

This fascia-aware approach keeps me grounded in rotational movement, an approach I share with my collaborator and translator, Celina Hwang. You can find us working on the Five Filaments repertoire and on Retreat in French and English. 

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 progress in their practice while minimizing risk. I love giving (and receiving) yoga adjustments crafted through personal experience, research, and creative play. .

I work primarily from my home in the Scottish Borders, where I live with my husband Simon and our two littles. We love being outdoors and staying well through play in connection with nature. You can practice with me in person or online here. I also offer mentorship and further training, linked at the footer of this page.