My name is Kara Foley. I first stepped into a yoga class at the age of 16. I was a super active young adult and loved the movements and slowing down – something I didn’t do much of. I continued to practice throughout my school years, and once I started working full time I became more and more invested in my practice and started to take trainings for “fun.” In 2002, I was going through a lot of health difficulties that I thought I “was OK” with. It took a retreat in Costa Rica to flip me, make me cry every day, realize that feeling this emotion was what needed to be done to process the loss of my old “normal” life and then take action to cultivate what I needed my life to be. Since that week, I have been diving deep into all 8 limbs of yoga (it’s more than just postures!) and literally living my yoga day in and day out. Knowing that some days your yoga may be listening to your body exhaustion and taking a nap, and that’s OK. This is truly a liberating feeling.
Fast forward 15+ years later and it’s still the place I feel most at home. At home in my body, at home in my mind, fluid and untarnished. Your mat never asks anything more of you than to show up, and once you do it’s there for you – whatever you need. Whether you need to move every muscle until you are a sweaty exhausted mess, or need to lie down, heavy, and let go; the practice is there waiting. In my classes you will find I weave in fluid flows, muscle isolations, core, balance, and lots of hands on if you come to restorative touch. I am also a philosophy junkie and self-reflection lover, so there is always a thought or two to sink into and breathe life into your self-exploration. I created Bodhi as a refuge. A place of love and acceptance. A place to process this thing we call life on our mats – so that we can be more present off our mat. ♥
What do I do best?
I believe what I do best, as observed by others and my work over time, is I hold space for others. I am one of those people who people just tell everything to, whether we’ve known each other 20 years or 20 seconds, I am that person you will tell everything to without realizing that’s what happening. I was once told that I had to put up walls if I wanted to make it as a sports/physiotherapist (my main profession), that this was a “danger” to me in this line of work. But what I have found is that it has been my greatest strength in all the work I do - especially now that I am working in the yoga realm. To make people feel comfortable, relaxed, to allow for a safe space for healing - whether it’s in my office or my yoga classes.
What makes me the best version of myself?
I am a strong believer that the people we surround ourselves with are a reflection of our best sides, a mirror to reflect ourself back to us. I believe that I am the best version of myself when I am surrounded by those I love, when I take time - for me - to fill my cup, and when I keep my regular yoga practice and svadhyaya (self study) dates with myself.
What are my aspirations?
I aspire to build a life in which I have more time for the people and things that I love. More time to spend with friends, my husband, more time for nature, walking, hiking, more time to cultivate my practices. Time is a funny thing. When we do things we don’t like - we feel that it is taking up too much time, too long, time moves slowly. When we are doing what we love, it moves to quickly, there’s never enough time. Right now I’m in situation 2. I love what I’m doing but that means that I spend a little too much time there, and time for the things I listed slips away. So, in a way, I aspire to make more time!
In reality, this all comes down to my business goal - to bring amazing people on board with Bodhi Wellness, so that I can keep offering to my community while having space to step back for myself. In this way my personal and business goals are overlapping.
My Biggest Success?
My biggest success I would have to say is keeping the light despite the dark. Although I am young, I have had many defining moments in my life that a lot of people would let drag them down. Amongst them injuries, surgeries, health issues, a husband with grade 4 cancer, a dog who I loved with my whole being who passed at the age of 3, the list goes on… Instead of spiralling down the dark hole that was very tempting, I took these opportunities to strengthen my yoga practice, to find my breath, to find my voice, my support networks, to surrender to that which I cannot control, to take the lessons that I am here to learn and to then pass those lessons on to anyone who needs them. To be a voice, a beacon for those needing a guide back to the light.
My Most Challenging Moment?
After my husband’s diagnosis with brain cancer, we continued to live in Toronto for a few years doing our best to keep surviving in a city that is best suited for a dual income. One summer it clicked. We needed nature, we needed clean air, we needed to simplify - this brought us back to my home town of Deep River Ontario. This decision at the time was one to support my husbands health, one to allow us to have some family supports closer. A chance for me to fight my urge to do everything - to be everything, and allow those in my life to help out.
Little did we know, it would end up being a decision that would actually allow me to realize a long time dream of mine (2 years later) of building a yoga studio/wellness centre. Sometimes, when we let life guide us - instead of resisting - we allow for our paths to unfold in unplanned, dream-fulfilling ways.
When I was working as a high performance strength coach (in another life!) we used to find and use motivational quotes. One particular quote has stuck with me since that time 10 years ago.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” - Marianne Williamson
I think that we are taught to be small. To be seen, not heard. But what if we have something to say? What if our message is needed? Our power is inspirational? The world needs us. All of us. Shining in all our glory.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
My Husband. He inspires me everyday. He is the gentlest, kindest, most incredible human I have ever met. But don’t ever mess with me, he will fight you, and he will win!
My Friend Kristi Soomer, founder and CEO of Encircled. I met Kristi about 5 years ago in Costa Rica (although we lived very close to each other in Toronto!). She runs her business with purpose, integrity, and sustainability. She is the ultimate #girlboss and makes dreamy clothes.
Kevin Courtney, one of my teachers, he pushes you to dig deep into life, yoga, and meditation like no other.
Taryn Toomey, I’ve never met her but love how she keeps it real and the premise behind her work with The Class. She is definitely my #WCW and I hope to one day study with and meet her.
Michelle Tamblyn Sabo is also incredibly inspiring with her Goddess Flow work and bringing women back in touch with Shakti and embodiment of the feminine.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
The beach, any beach. I am lucky that in the summer our town has stellar beaches (if only summer was longer!) The other day I joked that my favourite places are hot places where pants are optional…
Home, with a good book and a cup of tea.
Nosara, Costa Rica
Toronto, Ontario - when I need to see my friends or miss the hustle (and food!) it’s a great fix.
Morocco - had a short trip to Marrakech and need to return and explore more!
On the list - India, and Bali
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My fave skin care: Pure and Simple (based out of Toronto), their products are all amazing, natural, and work. A saviour for sensitive skin. Fave feel good clothing lines (minimalism, eco conscious) are Encircled, and Free Label. I also love a good kimono - perfect for layering over my yoga clothes and making me feel like a goddess. My fave objects are all pieces with special meaning - jewellery from my hubby, pieces we’ve collected on our travels, and BOOKS. As for practice tools the things I use most to enhance my practice and take care of myself are: Yoga tune up balls including the coregeous ball, a strap to deepen and refine, blocks for refinement and challenge, a good meditation cushion, and my all time favourite the Bmat.
All of this being said, I was speaking to my friend the other day about how -depending on how a lot of factors in my life unfold - I could totally pack a few bags and move with minimal possessions. I think that a lot of the time we think that these things in our life bring happiness. Maybe, depending on your definition of happiness. Personally as long as I can keep my skin, body, and mind fed and taken care of that’s all I need. Sometimes we add objects to our line to try and improve it and all they do is complicate things. My favourite things are the things that make me feel how I want to feel - nourished, comfortable, grounded, home.
My Current Passions?
My current passions are yoga, philosophy, mala making, poetry writing (fed into my instagram @physiobodhi and tagged #lifeobservedbykara) and learning to surrender to the ebb and flow of life.