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Meet Veda Spidle of The Karuna Tree

Today we’d like to introduce you to Veda Spidle.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Veda. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I could say that my parents helped start me on this path when they named me Veda… maybe they intuitively knew something about my life’s purpose before I did? I was born in 1986 during a difficult time in Europe, present-day Lithuania. Back then the father of a coming child was not allowed to attend the labor. While my mom was giving birth, my father was at home doing puja, a way of worshiping, typically towards a deity or object that represents a specific quality or higher power.

My parents were yogis, doing their best to live the teachings their path offered through a regular practice of meditation and chanting sacred sounds. They made it to America with me in hand and settled near a Hindu temple. My sister was born a few years later. We were surrounded by sacred chants, meditation, and at times the physical practice of yoga through our entire upbringing. Like many other young adults to varying degrees, there were times that I stepped further away from the practices. This only led me back to where I had left off and over the course of a few years, it became obvious to me that I was on unstable ground when yoga wasn’t part of my life.

My college studies were focused on Interior Design, with mostly self-led yoga and meditation sessions on my carpeted apartment floor to keep me going to the collegiate finish line. This was followed by working for an architecture firm and then finding myself teaching English in South Korea during the 2009 economic crisis. I loved teaching! I loved it so much that I stayed abroad 3.5 years. I look back and there are glimpses that I now see as stepping stones on my personal path of evolution to the teacher I am today. My father had given me an old English copy of Integral Yoga Hatha by Yogiraj Sri Swami Satchidananda, the same book on yoga that he once had when he was a teen. That book came with me abroad, and I would guide my friends through yoga practices on the roof of my apartment building. That book was my personal stronghold, it kept me anchored, and sharing it with friends gave me a feeling of family so far from home.

Returning to the States, I scoped out yoga as a way to reset my foundation here. I found wonderful communities of yogis and then saw a flyer for Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). I had always thought that you just ‘do’ yoga. I never knew that yoga teacher training even existed! With the encouragement of my husband, family, and multiple other amazing people, I did it. I took the leap into the world of studying and teaching the teachings. Once you open studies of that caliber, you realize how little you know, and for me, I consistently craved more. More time to read, more time to study, more teacher trainings, and more time to teach. Veda means “knowledge” in Sanskrit, the foundational language of yoga, and I couldn’t get enough of it!

It’s been five years since I started teacher training and books have taken over multiple shelves in our home. I sometimes catch myself teaching out loud in my sleep, but I have also (finally) learned the value of slowing down. Inviting the space into my life to just be, to take naps, to go hiking, to travel, and to watch the birds. It’s through the studies, through shared conversations with my husband, sister, family, beloved close friends, and mentors that I have truly come to realize that all of this, all of it, is yoga. Which means that I must’ve been on this path all along. That our personal evolutions are always happening.

Has it been a smooth road?
The road wasn’t smooth. Some crossroads, some bumpy rides, sometimes the road was unseen. Sometimes I would stop walking it for a while and find myself at a standstill. But you know what? You stand there long enough and the sun comes back around. In my 20’s, a time I see as when you start to first discover more of who you are, the transition from living abroad and returning to the States was difficult. Even though my husband and I made the decision to move back together, the integration was hard. The reverse culture shock was no joke. The practices of yoga helped me to be self-aware through the fluctuations and made it easier to settle back in. There is a power to coming up against change and literally breathing through it. Conscious breathing helped me to lean into it.

It was a struggle at times, when deaths of those near or who I had known at different times in my life, shook my foundation. It did, however, give me the heart-wrenching opportunity to dig deeper inside of myself, to dig into the teachings that have always been ‘home’ to me, to realize that I am not alone in my experiences and that we are not alone in our humanness. Ground gets shaken too when your parents make the difficult decision to leave their marriage. As an adult watching this, I intellectually understood the reasons… but it puts up a mirror. You look at yourself and have to face questions and memories and future unknowns. As I dug deeper to feel the emotions, I realized again that we are all in this human experience together, my parents, who are still friends, are human. They came with me as a toddler, as refugees with nothing in-hand but their trust of something better for our family and built lives that are surrounded by more peace now than what they ever knew growing up. This tells me that change is possible and that you can make it to the other side, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

The common thread through these challenges was that I struggled against myself. I struggled to keep my surroundings in a particular comfortable way. But you can’t really control death or other people’s decisions. These experiences emerged and I resisted or denied them. It wasn’t until recently, in India, at the Amrit Yoga Institute Spiritual Retreat, that it all came together. All at once, my previous stepping stones made a clear path when I looked back. It took a few years for me, maybe more that I wasn’t aware of, to let my guard down. My heart had been open throughout my life. It was easy for me to let people in or to give, but it took quite some time for those to happen in unison. For me to feel my feelings in their entirety. To have more compassion for myself. This opened the doorway to having even more compassion for others.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Karuna Tree – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I love, with every cell in my body, the work that I do. It doesn’t feel right to even call it work. It feels like my life’s purpose. To support others in supporting themselves with yogic tools. Over the years of guiding yoga, I found myself gravitating toward gentle practices, diving deeper into inner stillness, probably because that is so much of what I needed too. I am most proud of that, being able to guide from the place of personal experience. I have had the opportunity to teach at wonderful studios, and am grateful to some of them for having been my launching pads. Having released a great deal of struggle against myself, I have lovingly embraced slowing down and taking time to feel the breath moving. This embrace has led me to teaching at Anahata Sound & Energy Healing and A Mindfulness Life Center, both focusing on therapeutic-based yoga practices, for the last few years.

Two years ago, an amazing opportunity presented itself to work with addiction recovery. In the same way that I hadn’t known in the past that YTT was a thing, two years ago I also didn’t know that recovery centers needed yoga teachers. A close friend of mine, who happens to text me about opportunities always at the right time, had mentioned to me that A Better Today Recovery Services was looking for a yoga teacher. When she told me about it, I felt immediately that this was in line with my life’s purpose. As a result of seeing how important it is to have self-compassion, my wide range of studies have led me to guiding specialty classes that use yogic tools and alternative wellness techniques to ease grief, anxiety, addiction recovery, and trauma. This is what my brand, The Karuna Tree, is all about: The Healing Power of Self-Compassion Through Yoga. Currently, I offer public studio classes, private lessons, public and private events, specialty workshops, and a curriculum built specifically for addiction recovery through The Karuna Tree. I also am building a YouTube channel for gentle and meditative practices, and you can find me on social media.

Is there a quality or characteristic that has played an outsized role in your success?
I feel that the quality that has been pivotal in my success is remembering that we are all in this together. That life is yoga. That how you pursue your practice, what you do in it on a regular basis, why you do it, can all be reflected in and applied to life. The statement that ‘we are all in this together’ might not seem like an important distinction, but the way I see it is that we are all connected, and authentic human connection is vital. There is a chain of moments from my personal practice to my students to the people that they interact with, and this becomes a reminder that we are not alone. It’s through the external connections that we realize the connection to ourselves, so the chain goes full circle, to the wisdom that resides within us.

My purpose is to foster the personal growth of each student to realize their inner strength, and I work diligently every day to give the best I can. There will always be experiences that come and go, and to do your best to hold yourself with kindness and compassion makes it easier to see your external world through that lens. Investing in myself, through a lifetime of learning, continued training, personal practice, and regularly working with mentors, all serve as reminders that others before me have walked this path of experience, and they are sharing it with me. They helped guide me to unlocking the wisdom and intelligence within myself. Being diligent in my studies and practice reflects the teachings of those before me, and allows me to bring forth the teachings with the influence and authority of the ages.

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1 Comment

  1. Beth Feldman

    June 28, 2019 at 12:14 am

    Since an awesome piece on the amazing Veda. I am thankful for her guiding me in my yoga practice.

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