Yogi Spotlight: Karen Hibey

Hi Yogis! Welcome to our first Yogi Spotlight, organized and written by the fabulous Kathleen Reynolds! Today’s feature yogi is Karen Hibey, a long-time and beloved student of Allay!


Tell us about your yoga experience. When and why did you start your practice? How has it
changed since you started?

I started my yoga practice with my eldest daughter when she moved home to plan her wedding some 15 years ago. We attended twice a week evening yoga classes at the Bethesda Y — and it did help us through the stresses and challenges of planning a wedding! We learned the poses together and practiced our breathing when it came to cutting the guest list (and especially during the seat assignments!)

We practiced together throughout that year, but once she married and moved out, my practice fell off. I tried DVDs, but yoga drifted away. My exercise and physical activity continued with gyms, trainers, daily walking. And then my daughter called me to let me know she saw the Allay Yoga Studio opening sign in 2011! That was great news to me, since I live in Kensington. I was there on opening weekend to begin anew my relationship with yoga — and unbeknownst to me at the time, with the community of Allay.

The beginner’s classes and the vinyasa workshops were wonderful refreshers for me. I had been practicing some poses over the years in other classes and via DVDs but nothing consistent. With the proximity of Allay, I dedicated my the fall and winter seasons that year to reacquainting myself to yoga and my yogi within! A return to a more yoga-centric rather than physical body-centric practice was intriguing and challenging.

Since returning to my practice at Allay, I have also practiced yoga in a wonderful studio in Tiverton, RI with floor to ceiling windows overlooking farmland, lake and meadows! Mother Nature’s abundance surrounds us, and with the windows flung open, the scents and sounds of our natural habitat envelop us as we practice. The Rivers of Light Studio is an amazing place to practice yoga, and I think that may be one of my most favorite spots — although a morning on the beach in Little Compton, RI practicing yoga will always stay with me…listening to the rolling waves, the chirping terns and the squawking seagulls with the wind off the ocean challenging each pose stays strong in my thoughts and is one of my most favorite images I call forth in times of stress!

What are some of your favorite poses and why?

The basic poses in the vinyasa sequence are still among my most favorite, as they are the poses with which I am most familiar — and the least stressful for me. I can flow without thinking, just be in the moment, not worrying about the next pose. Be in the breath. The longer I practice, more poses are familiar and just come to me…if I can find my way to my mat! I loved working with Daisy, and I miss her: her mantra of “one pose day on the mat” is one I strive to follow.

Tell us a little about yourself outside the yoga studio.

As one of your oldest students, my life “outside the mat” is probably very different from your other students. I “retired” several years ago to provide child care to my granddaughter and continued to do so for many years and now am the “backup Nana” to my daughter’s primary caretaker. I am also a “tweener,” helping with the care of my mom in Rhode Island where I spend the summer each year.

What influence does your yoga practice have on your life “beyond the mat”? How is your practice a meaningful part of your life?

My yoga helps keep me focused on what is important and provides a calming influence when I am pulled in various directions. My practice has become a more significant part of my life due, in large part, to the proximity of Allay Studio and its wonderful teachers and collegiality among the members. I love the small town feel of Kensington; my New England small-town roots drew me to Kensington years ago — and I found that “neighborly” feel at Allay. I feel a connection with all of Allay’s membership. We are building a caring community at Allay within the Kensington neighborhood, and that is one of the many reasons I continue to return — not just for the yoga but for the relationships we are developing. Most of my classmates are much younger. I enjoy the challenge of their practice, and hopefully I am able to keep up with them for years to come. Each teacher at Allay has given me inspiration – each teacher has her own style and strengths, and I enjoy the differences and delight in the challenge each presents.