Steps Along the Path...
Karen's first cookbook published 1996. Photo taken at Marche de l'Ouest in Dollard (Montreal) Quebec
Cooking for charity event 'What's Cooking at CJA' 2000.
Taping Yoga with Karen TV series at CanalVox in Montreal 2004.
Yoga with Karen DVD's.
Cooking class at our location in Montreal-Pierrefonds 2008.
Demonstrating student-adjustments with Gabrielle in yoga teacher training 2008.
Thai yoga massage 'assisted cobra pose' with Betty Rutty.
Our Yoga studio has a wall for Golf Simulator, for Guide 4 Golfer clinics.
Guide 4 Golfers Copyright © 2012-2020 Karen Claffey.
At the age of nine I was diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever and was put on heavy doses of penicillin and aspirin daily, which doctors said I would continue for the rest of my life. Three years later, at twelve years old, my devoted mother who strongly relies on and trusts her intuition, took me off the drugs without telling our doctor. Mom felt that these daily high doses of antibiotics drugs were not beneficial for my long term health and development. A stay-at-home-mom who loved to cook everything from scratch, she changed our rich gourmet menu, and put me on a strict regimen of healthy natural foods, daily supplements and a super tonic beverage that we called "poison" because the taste was so wicked it made me shudder. Around the same time, Mom starting taking yoga classes at our neighbour’s house, and then would teach me what she leaned at home. Friends and neighbors called mom a ‘health nut’ (by the way, this was 1971 and health awareness was new).
When I was fifteen, Mom decided it was time to bring me back to the doctor to check up on my health from a medical viewpoint. Doc set me up with all the necessary heart and blood tests, and few days later we returned when the results were in. He said, "I can't believe it, but you no longer have Rheumatic Fever." We explained how we had stopped the drugs three years prior, and made healthy dietary and lifestyle changes. He responded, "That has nothing to do with it. It's spontaneous remission."
In high school the typical teen issues took priority and peer pressure led me away from my healthy habits. In 1976 the first MacDonald's was built in our area, not far from our high school, and we frequented this establishment because it was a novelty.
With my parents’ divorced at the age of 19, and the break-up of my own engagement at the age of 21, I spiraled out of control into drugs, alcohol, and depression. I suffered from low self-esteem, devalued myself, and used mood-altering substances to numb the pain and attempt to escape myself and my situation. This phase of my life lasted some years and took a severe toll on my health. Things progressed in a downward spiral as these traumatic events led me onto a path of self-destructive behavior. I had suicidal thoughts and considered different ways of ending my life on a daily basis.
By the age of 24 I was in a do or die position, and had to save my health - and life. I had hit the proverbial rock-bottom, and decided to salvage whatever I could of my health and life. I pulled out all Mom’s well-worn books she had used for guidance and reference when I was 12 (Diet for a Small Planet, Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit, and many more), and with great motivation and determined focus I fully embraced a healthy lifestyle again. I also started exercising regularly, and put ALL my time and energy into healing myself.
At the age of 26 (first week of October 1984) I had a full, mind blowing, spontaneous Kundalini awakening. At the time, I did not know what it was. That night I wrote in my journal, “I feel as if I have awakened from the inside out. My heart and mind and entire inner self feels as if it had been asleep all these years, compared to how I feel now. Even though I have always been very in touch with my inner feelings and instincts, somehow everything is different.” The Kundalini awakening felt and sounded like a hissing snake uncoiling and spiraling up inside, from my pelvic floor to the crown of my head. When it hit the top of my head, all of a sudden my vision switched from where I was to seeing stars and galaxies and energy with such amazing radiance, it was as if I could see the whole universe. I am not sure how long I was held in this vision or space, but eventually I shook my head and came back into my body, back where I was standing. I said to myself, “Wow, what was that!?” Years later, when reading yogic texts about Kundalini, they described my experience almost word for word. According to Swami Sivananda, “The speed at which the Kundalini is awakened is dependent upon the degree of purity, the stage of evolution, the amount of purification of the psychic nerves and the vital sheath, and above all, the degree of dispassion and yearning for liberation. In especially pure yogis, it jumps and reaches the Sahasrara (crown chakra) rapidly.”
From that day forward, my path began to take shape and become crystal clear. Much like my mother, I had always relied on my instincts and intuition, and now this connection to divine guidance was more palpable.
The following month (November 1984) I met a couple who taught macrobiotics, and out of curiosity took my first macrobiotic cooking class with them on December 23, 1984. Sue-Ann and Steven Foxman were the original owners of Teva on Decarie Blvd in Montreal. I was in their store almost every day asking questions, buying books and learning about macrobiotics. After learning as much as I could from cook books, I became so passionate about it that I needed to do something more.
Between 1988 and 1991 was back and forth between Boston and Becket, Massachusetts to train at the Kushi Institute – world headquarters for macrobiotic studies - where I attended the Macrobiotic Leadership Studies, and eventually became head chef and kitchen manager under direct supervision of macrobiotic author/chef/teacher Wendy Esko. I assisted Michio Kushi, in his health counselling department; and was instrumental in the publication of Nine Star Ki, Michio's book of Oriental Astrology. The KI curriculum includes Oriental Medicine, organic farming and food processing shiatsu massage, body energy work, yoga, Do-In, meridian exercises for healing of the physical, mental and spiritual being. The most compelling transformation I experienced was during Michio Kushi's Spiritual Development Seminars (levels 1-6); which refined my natural clairvoyant ability, and laid the groundwork for chakra healing bodywork.
As a fourth generation of gourmet chefs and pastry chefs my cooking talent is inherent – Mom’s is a retired pastry chef; she had learned directly from her Dad, and his parents were professional chefs who worked for aristocracy in England. I set out to unite my in-depth macrobiotic knowledge with gourmet cooking. As my experience and confidence grew, I took a position as head chef-manager in 1992 at Ecos Cafe in Toronto, where patrons praised and lined up for my specialties. This led to an exciting top position cooking for the "Stars" at Real Food Daily in Santa Monica, CA during the summer of 1993, and was asked back again when they opened their second-location in 1998.
* March 1993 I began offering cooking classes and vegan catering at my home in Pierrefonds under the name of, Karen's Kitchen. A year later, with the prompting of a colleague, I created and hosted KAREN'S KITCHEN, a popular Montreal cable TV cooking show (© 1994 and 1995), with Mom as co-host. Viewer's letters inspired me to write and self-publish my first vegan cookbook, FAST & FUN FOOD (© 1996), with lots of help from Mom in the kitchen testing recipes!
* 1996 to 1998 I was co-host of The Food Show with Chuck Phillips at CIQC AM 600 and occasionally co-hosted The Health Show with Jim Fewer. I appeared regularly as a guest-chef on Leslie Robert's popular CFCF morning show, Montreal AM. I was also lucky to be a guest on the CTV Nationally televised Dini Petty Show based in Toronto.
* 2000 I started teaching yoga - through Divine Intervention, in the form of my friend Barbara at the Snowdon YM-YWHA. She was inspired by my personal yoga practice and encouraged me to begin subbing for David Snively, my fitness guru of many years (from 1984) whose classes we both attended regularly. After subbing David’s classes for 2 weeks, I made a few phone calls around town to let people know, “I am available if you need a sub for yoga.” This was in April of 2010. As demand grew and more opportunities came my way, by September – a mere 5 months later - I was teaching yoga full time, 24 classes a week! It dawned on me, “I am now a yoga teacher. I better get certified!”
* 2001 and ongoing I have been learning from many inspiring teachers. In 2002 I was introduced to Anusara Yoga; and in early 2003 completed Todd Norian's 400 hour yoga teacher training based on the Anusara system. Since then I have been devoted to this path, and attended my first event with John Friend in October 2003. In late June 2011 my Anusara Yoga Certification was confirmed.
* 2002 started teaching YTT’s. The way it transpired was also Divine Inspiration. Karen Gozlan and Sarah Foxman (coincidentally Sarah is the daughter of the couple who taught me macrobiotics in 1984) frequented my yoga classes at the Snowdon Y. In the 2002 one day after class they came to me and said, “We want you to teach us how to become yoga teachers.” Hence, my teacher training programs were born that fall. I founded, Heaven On Earth Yoga Institute, and began offering full 200-hour Yoga Alliance registered YTT certification programs. Since 2009 we offer 300/500 hour Yoga Therapy Trainings, and in 2014 we expand our programs to the 1000-hour level.
* 2003 co-host / yoga-teacher in Josee Lavigueur's yoga video 'Initiation au Yoga'
* guest appearances on Josee's television show "Josee, Gaston & Cie" on TVA.
* 2004 host-creator of Yoga with Karen, television series on Canal Vox in Montreal.
* 2004 began offering yoga retreats
* 2008 yoga-teacher-training students requested to learn shiatsu and Thai yoga massage with Karen, and soon afterwards our massage training program was launched.
* 2008 by popular demand, we expanded our cooking program to train holistic health consultants and vegan-macrobiotic cooks.
What I want to do with my life is what I am doing and I understand the monumental privilege of being able to follow my bliss. I was born to do this - to teach, to guide, to inspire, to encourage and support others in making positive lifestyle changes.
April 2010 we moved to Stoney Creek (Hamilton) Ontario. We love our new location and are very excited about our new facilities, where we continue to offer life enhancing, health promoting, inspiring programs. We would love to see you here!
Since 2012 I have been working on my revolutionary new book, Guide 4 Golfers (Copyright © 2012-2020 Karen Claffey) - release date tbd.
In 2013 I launched a new brand focusing on yoga therapy: Integrated Health Yoga Therapy. And in 2014 from March to September I created and hosted my radio show: Integrated Health 4 You, featuring fascinating guests in the health and wellness world including MD, scientists, and health pioneers.
In October 2014 I embarked on a very challenging and demanding, and very exciting, project - I started school to become an Osteopath.
In September 2018 I am pleased to have passed all my osteopath exams with flying colors and officially graduated at the top of my class with Academic Distinction.