On the fence about whether or not you want to give yoga a try? We recently spoke with yoga instructor, Melissa Krieger (formerly McLeod) who has worked in the health and wellness industry for over a decade and has taught nearly 6000 hours of yoga instruction. Although Krieger teaches full-time out of her studio, Bloom Yoga in Victoria, BC, her site boasts a variety of instructional online videos and DVDs for those of you who can't make the trek to Canada for in-person instruction. Read our interview with Melissa for her perspective on this popular physical, mental and spiritual practice.
Fitness Cult Chronicles: Is there a particular style of yoga you teach? If so, what made you choose this?
Melissa Krieger: I teach Flow Yoga, Bedtime Yoga (glorified Restorative Yoga with a catchy name I coined) and Yoga4Strength. Yoga4Strength is a fusion yoga class I developed that combines yoga, strength training, balance work and core. I was trained in Flow and Hatha and developed Yoga4Strength to combine my two passions, fitness and yoga. My personal practice is gentle, lots of Restorative Yoga, so I have been adding more of that in all of my classes.
FCC: How has yoga changed you as a person?
MK: I'm calmer. More thoughtful. More patient. More aware.
FCC: What is your advice to people who are considering trying out yoga, but are used to a more high energy workout?
MK: There is something for everyone so don't be afraid to try lots of different styles, teachers, studios. You want to find the right fit.
Something else to consider is that yoga can help balance us out. If you are a high energy person doing high intensity workouts you may be more attracted to a faster yoga class. You would actually find greater benefits in balancing yourself out by trying something a little slower, calmer. This is a hard sell! It took me about a decade and a back injury to learn that I needed a quieter practice.
FCC: Explain why focusing on your breath is so important for our readers who are not familiar with yoga.
MK: Breathing slowly and deeply calms us down - emotionally and physically. Our whole nervous system gets quieter and calmer, the heart rate slows down and our blood pressure goes down. This helps in making us feel less anxious and more focused. We are trying to stay present and in the body and focusing on the breath is a huge part of that connection.
FCC: Do you find that the hardest part of teaching is the physical or mental aspect of being in the present moment?
MK: The mental aspect for sure, being present is very challenging!
FCC: We love all the free videos that you do! Do you think someone can learn and excel just by watching the videos or do you really recommend a class environment?
MK: Thanks! I think it depends on the person. Some students have the discipline and body awareness to thrive on their own, while others would really benefit from a live teacher giving corrections and offering alternatives. I like to do both, I love having the freedom to practice at home but it's also wonderful to get feedback from a teacher and connect with my yoga community.
FCC: Do you have any new DVDs or free online videos in the works?
MK: I just released my second DVD last spring - Yoga4Strength with Weights. The trailer for this DVD is below:
It's available on my website bloomyogavictoria.ca along with my original Yoga4Strength DVD. Both DVD's have a Yoga4Strength workout plus one or two yoga routines on them.
I also contribute to a yoga site called doyogawithme.com. I currently have five routines on there and will be shooting a few more this summer.
*Photo Courtesy of Melissa Krieger