VALLEY OM SPACES
Locals Share Their Sacred Places
Everyone knows that this Valley has some incredible homes. From the outside, these amazing abodes created by the award-wining architects and builders that reside locally can be deceiving. Hidden away in some of these homes, deep in the heart of these domiciles, you may find something surprising. Far from the hustle and bustle, there lives a piercingly quiet and blank space. It’s a place where you may just discover, and then relax in, your own “Zen.” These personal temples, spaces for yoga or spots simply to find balance, are becoming a popular addition to homes. We checked in with a few Valley homeowners to learn more about the om spaces in their homes.
Posada Yoga Tower
Jim and Karen Posada are more than familiar with the wilds of Idaho—they not only live in it, they have a front-row seat from the yoga tower in their home situated on a sprawling 160-acres in the Pahsimeroi Valley. The Posadas lived in the Bay Area and bought a vacation home in Challis in 2002, and Karen explained, “The more time we spent in Challis, the more time we wanted to be there permanently.”
The Posadas enlisted the help of local architect Jeff Williams to design the house. “It’s a contemporary ranch house with open views of the Valley, and nowhere is that view more powerful than from the studio tower where the phenomenal aspect of the home is a 360-degree experience,” Williams said. The tower was the “pièce de résistance” for Karen and it’s the only structure on the second level of the home—a sort of refuge of quiet from the rest of the commotion in the house. Karen said that her yoga tower is simply a “space outside of the normal living activity,” and that she and Jim often have coffee there in the morning and love to greet the day in this serene spot.
Temple in Board Ranch
Diane Crist is well versed in the art of “being quiet.” She has been meditating since 1972 and has been practicing yoga all her life. “For me, meditation simply makes life easier,” Diane said. Her family’s move to Ketchum in 1979, after deciding to “take a break” from their suburban existence in San Francisco, also made life easy. As she explained, “After a year, we decided that Ketchum really was home, and we’ve lived here ever since.”
The central role that meditation and yoga have played in Diane’s life prompted her to recruit husband and builder John Majors to design and build her “om space” in 2010, which has become a sanctuary of sorts. Diane’s meditation space is situated near the river on her property out Board Ranch and, as she says, is a “luxury tree house.”
The building design was done by her husband, but Diane explained, “I made the decisions on the interior, which is decorated with artifacts from Bhutan.” As for the benefits of her luxury Zen sanctuary, Diane explained. “We meditate there each morning. It is a gift to our spiritual life.”
Yoga Oasis North Ketchum
Carol Rees and her husband, John Foley, have been solid fixtures in the Valley for a collective 35 years. John has been here for 10 years and Carol for 25. They bought a house in 2011, just north of Ketchum, to accommodate their family of three, which includes the couple and their Weimaraner, “Bhodi,” who Carol says “keeps them on their toes.”
When they decided to remodel their home in 2013, Carol and John solicited the help of architect Michael Doty to add a second story onto their home and create their “yoga/meditation/guest room.” Carol says about designing their space, “We both have regular meditation and yoga practices and wanted an appealing spot with plenty of light.” The yoga room has a barn door that can be closed for privacy and Carol explained that the room’s interior is sparse to reduce distraction and maximize the experience.
“Having this yoga room is a great reminder and opportunity to practice each day,” she said, explaining that having the room upstairs adds to the feeling of the space. “The sun coming up over the ridge is so peaceful that you can’t help but bring that state of mind with you through your day!”
Kathleen Krekow, her husband Karl, and their four children moved here from Seattle 12 years ago for what she calls, “the common reasons”—the mountains, community, open spaces and the accessibility to skiing, biking and hiking. Karl is retired, and Kathleen is a long-time hospice volunteer and also works for Idaho’s Bounty. The couple designed and built their home and Kathleen explained, “In some ways our entire home was designed to be an om space; welcoming, inviting and not precocious.”
Kathleen says that she didn’t intentionally create a meditation space in her home, but that one organically evolved, as did her practice. After the dissolution of her weekly meditation group in Hailey, Kathleen began practicing in her home and invited members from her former group to join. “I was very surprised I wanted to do this, as I am somewhat private and have never opened my home in such a way,” she said. “Two years later, we are stronger than ever!” Kathleen and her group practice in the den each morning with meditation cushions and a bell to open and close sessions. It’s a dynamic spot that she says transforms with the seasons. It seems that the Krekow’s om space has fostered peace throughout the home, as Kathleen’s 17 year-old son, Nick, summed it up, “Things have gotten a lot better around here since you and dad started meditating!”-Margot Ramsay
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SPACES TO GET YOUR ZEN ON
Creating Personal Space To Meditate
Let’s all take a minute for some “ommmm,” shall we? As time for ourselves steadily declines in the hurry-up world in which we live, moments to meditate, relax or just “be” become more, well, sacred. Carving out a space in our lives, whether literally or figuratively, for this practice is essential to creating balance.
The idea of having an entire space dedicated solely for your “om” moments, or just a sort of getaway situated conveniently in your home, might sound like an impossible extravagance, but it is actually something that you can create—without putting serious dents in either your time or financial budgets. We talked to a Valley architect and a local yoga instructor about how to create a Zen space in the comfort of your home.
OM SPACE TIPS
Once you have found a space, cleaned it out and made it as “blank” as possible, you can start to bring in a few influential pieces from your life. Tener said that she recommends tapping into the five senses as your guide when building your personal om space.
SEE: Choose a color of the room that makes you feel inspired and gives you a feeling of peace and serenity. “For some people, this might be a warm and yummy yellow, or a cool blue that is calming,” Tener suggested. For your visual appeal, bring in some element from nature in the form of rocks, shells or plants. You can also set up an altar, which is not religiously affiliated, but is simply filled with photos of things that inspire you, like a quote that you really like or fresh flowers.
SMELL: Scents can be a strong mood shifter, according to Tener, and she recommends essential oils or candles to set whatever atmosphere you prefer.
SOUND: To further set the feel of your space, bring in some type of soft music that is simple and pleasing to you.
TOUCH: Some people prefer a soft carpet that’s plush and cushy, while others want hard floors so that they can utilize a meditation cushion or a yoga mat. To create your quiet space, you can build an elaborate sanctuary or make it as uncomplicated as a meditation cushion in a closet. The point is to take time and breathe. Though it’s great to create an actual space dedicated to this practice, you can do this anywhere. Just grab a mat, light a candle and breathe your way into some Zen.
Jeff Williams is a local architect who has practiced in the Sun Valley area since 1992. “I took a real interest in Zen-type spaces when I was in design school,” he explained. “I was convinced that spiritual, sacred spaces were important. If not spiritual, at least ‘centering.’”
Jeff has designed a number of these spaces for Valley homes and understands the importance of a quiet spot in your home. As he explained, “Today’s need for such a space would be to try and help the occupant slow the world, the mind down.”
In traditional Japanese residential architecture, Jeff said that “designers would create a space, often just an alcove, where they would put an item of spiritual focus or perhaps aesthetic focus—an icon, a poem in calligraphy, a vase with a single orchid—it was the object of meditation or just a reminder of the importance of simplicity, elegance and perhaps reality. Our lives these days are lopsided toward the external noise of the world and these spaces, ideally, would help us find a balance.”
Taking a verse out of Williams’ thoughts on Zen spaces, you might just start with a simple corner of your home to carve out as a quiet space. Find a spot in your home that is especially comfortable and feels good and claim it as your own. You can hang prayer flags over your space to divide it from the rest of the home. Or you could “use a room divider to actively block off the rest of your life,” said Tener Rogers, a local yoga teacher and masseuse. “The actual act of putting up a room divider can symbolize that separation between your space and your home, which is the most important part in creating a quiet space.”
Tener’s Zen space for herself as well as her yoga clients came to her organically, in the form of a log cabin that was given to her by a friend and moved onto her Deer Creek property. When creating your own space, Tener said, “Less is more. It doesn’t take much to make a wonderful space.”
Other than delineating the space as your own, a crucial component to creating a Zen space (whether you are converting a whole room, like an office or playroom, or just making a section of your home your own) is to clean out the space both physically and emotionally, Tener explained. The space needs to be clear and neutral and for Tener, a mother of two youngsters, her yoga studio feels that way simply because it is the one place where there are no toys.-Tal Roberts
TOP 10 WOMEN'S HEALTH TIPS
Stay Healthy All Year
1. TAKE A HIKE
Cardiovascular disease is still the #1 killer of women and, with proper precautions, is preventable. With the abundance of trails in the Wood River Valley, there is no excuse not to get outside and get moving.
2. SMILE AND LAUGH—IT’S CONTAGIOUS!
The simple act of turning up the corners of your mouth produces “feel good” hormones. Not only that, your smile will cause others to do the same. Studies show the release of hormones when we laugh can help lower blood pressure. Pass it on!
3. DRINK LIKE A GIRL
Limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage per day. A standard drink would be one 12-ounce bottle of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Keep in mind that the alcohol content of different types of beer, wine and distilled spirits can vary substantially.
4. GET A MAMMOGRAM FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY
Be sure to schedule a mammogram every one to two years. If you do it around your birthday, you will have a built-in reminder. Mammography scholarships are available at St. Luke’s, thanks to community generosity and the Idaho affiliate, Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
5. COLOR YOUR WORLD
Include a variety of vegetables at each meal every day. Go to the local farmers’ markets or grocery store and look for bold, bright, beautiful vegetables to fill your plate. Homegrown, organic or heirloom veggies will almost always vary in color, size, and shape from those conventionally grown.
6. GIVE YOURSELF A MINUTE
Throughout the day, take a moment to close your eyes, relax and take some deep, full breaths to center yourself. These mini-breaks will add quality minutes to your life.
7. IF YOU SMOKE… STOP
It is the single most important thing you can do for your health. In the new book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg says adding a new routine and sticking with it until it becomes a habit can lead to transforming other parts of your life—such as a better social life, more successful career or happier family.
8. STAY HYDRATED
Water to our bodies is like sunshine to flowers. Strive for at least eight glasses a day.
9. HIT THE SACK
Sleeping seven to eight hours per night helps regulate hormones. Active minds
and bodies need down-time to rejuvenate.
10. WORSHIP THE SUN SAFELY
Vitamin D is an important nutrient, but if you will be in the sun longer than 10 minutes or at midday (10am-2pm), remember sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, protective clothing and sunglasses. For more on sun safety, visit Sun Valley Magazine’s weekly Body & Soul blog.-Jenny King