Karen Holt started The Health Seed to bring conscious training and living to one of the world’s fastest-paced cities. #legend talks to the yoga guru to find out how she got started in the wellness industry and her insights on how to best care for the body and mind.
When and why did you choose to become a yoga teacher?
I guess you could say my journey started at a young age. I did ballet and gymnastics as a child, and so I grew up inspired by movement in motion. After many years of dancing, I disconnected from the joy of it and eventually stopped. But I was left with injuries that brought chronic pain as well as a stiffening body. I had to work out how I could get some relief and that’s how I first discovered yoga. It was many years later, and after my husband telling me several times to do it, that I realised I should be a teacher. As clichéd as it sounds, it was more of a calling than a job and at that moment the right teacher came into my life.
What does it mean to be a health coach?
A health coach is certified to help clients to develop a deeper understanding of the foods and lifestyle choices that work best for them, and implement changes that improve their energy and health. Instead of the usual one-diet-or-way-of-exercising-fits-all approach, a health coach will create recommendationsto fit each client.
You’re based in Hong Kong. What do you like most about the fitness and wellness industry here?
Compared to places such as London or Sydney, I think the industry here is relatively young, but it’s growing fast, and there is a great sense of community here. When I first moved to Hong Kong, I struggled to find the food I wanted to eat. Now there are so many healthy places to eat, so many different ways to move your body, and to take care of your body and mind.
What is The Health Seed?
The Health Seed is my holistic wellness concept. It is conscious training and conscious living. Sometimes it’s easy to get into the mindset that change takes something big, something game-changing. But what I’ve learned is this: the little things are game-changing, whether it’s random acts of kindness, a smile, donating your time or money to charity, supporting brands that don’t test on animals and use natural, chemical-free ingredients. These are all the little seeds that add up.
Every dollar we spend is a vote, a vote for what we, as consumers, believe in. It is the seeds we plant today which will have the impact for our future selves and future generations. That’s why I cannot believe that true health, balance and happiness come from a diet or fitness regime alone. It comes from being mindful in our day-to-day actions, and The Health Seed is about connecting those dots.
What do you enjoy doing most at the weekend?
Usually, my weekend involves teaching; the life of a yoga teacher. But aside from that, my spare time is sacred. I love spending quality time with my husband and our two dogs. We love getting outside and hiking, sometimes ending with a beach swim, and we also love stand-up paddle boarding. I love the salty air and connecting with the land and the ocean.
Do you have a favourite yoga pose? Which is it and why?
I used to be very driven by the asana (physical postures) practice of yoga and drove myself to achieve as many difficult postures as I could. But what I realised over time is that it’s far more valuable to act with mindfulness, to really tune into what my body needs and allow myself to explore a certain posture in that moment. When I really started listening to my body, my practice transformed. And so my favourite pose can really change day-to-day, even moment-to-moment, depending on what my body needs. In my personal practice I also love a more flowing style, where I just move from pose to pose without too much thought.
Can we talk about your smoothie bowls? What’s your favourite smoothie recipe?
One look at my Instagram and you’ll see how much I love smoothie bowls. For me it’s a great way to kick-start my day. I don’t drink coffee and I find smoothie bowls are a great hit of nutrients which set me up for the day far better than a coffee ever did. One of my all-time favourite recipes is pineapple, cucumber, celery, spinach, avocado, coconut water, plant-based protein powder and lots of ice, all blended together. My top smoothie tips are always to freeze fruit for a more creamy texture and to add as many vegetables as you like.
Do you have any New Year resolutions? Have you set any goals for yourself this year?
My meditation teacher taught me the Sanskrit word sankalpa, which means a promise or idea formed in the heart which is soft enough to be pliable, and we care enough [about] to keep trying, even if we stumble. For me, [the] formed-in-the-heart part is the most important part. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, when it is not what is in our hearts, we set goals that are unrealistic, emotionally charged and often come from guilt. When we can’t fulfil these goals, we feel worse about ourselves. For the year ahead, the intention in my heart is to be of service to others, through my work and my teaching, and to myself. That means continuing to create the space I need to be my best self, to be creative and to be a loving wife, sister and daughter, and friend.
A lot of people tend to have losing weight as a New Year’s resolution. Do you have any tips or advice on healthy weight loss?
The best thing we can do for ourselves is to learn what works for our own individual body. Start by cutting out as much highly processed food as you can, and eat as many vegetables, fruit and whole foods as you like, and drink lots of water. Finally, if you are craving something, eat it. Notice how it makes your body feel. And, most of all, cut out the guilt and enjoy it. Life is too short not to eat the foods you love.
Do you have a favourite quote or motto?
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” by Annie Dillard. I love this because it’s a reminder that happiness isn’t something to be attained from somewhere outside of ourselves, but is something within. Living with mindfulness in the present moment is something we can begin right away, and it must be done daily.
You inspire many people on Instagram. Who inspires you?
Thank you. I’m always striving to create content and communicate in the most authentic way I can, so what you see on my Instagram is really who I am. I am inspired by people who are unapologetically themselves, people who dance to the beat of their own drum. My greatest inspirations are my family: my mum and dad, who were fearless in their search for a better life; my sister, who has incredible courage; and my husband, who continually teaches me great love.