For many of us, a very specific image comes to mind when thinking about yoga: a person stretching his or her fabulous body into a seemingly impossible pose, their face as calm as a Hindu cow. Moreover, some people find the superficial traits reflected in this image (that of being poised, flexible and strong) to be the ultimate attainment for practicing yoga. However, while it is true that this practice can reinforce these physical attributes, yoga can also help develop mindfulness- an exercise that can help improve physical and mental health as well as overall well-being.

In this edition of our Self-Care & Wellness blog series, the Chamber would like to spotlight one of its new members, as well as one of Topeka’s newest yoga studios, Oshnik Yoga. This studio not only promotes the practice “of being in the moment” but also offers such a great wealth of knowledge in the practices of mindfulness and how it relates to the healing path of yoga, that it couldn’t be contained in this one blog. So, after reading this, be sure to pay a visit to Oshnik Yoga to learn more!

Oshnik Yoga opened in July 2017. In addition to teaching yoga, Owner Crystal Irwin works as a respiratory therapist at Stormont Vail Health – a position she admits is very physically and emotionally taxing: “it’s a really stressful job. You leave the hospital with tragedy and people at their worst, and that’s something you can’t help but carry with you.” She initially started practicing yoga primarily for the physical benefits. However, under the guidance of a past teacher, Crystal realized the different styles and elements of yoga that could also help her manage “what she leaves work with.”

 “The way she [her teacher] taught her students was to not let everything consume you, not be so quick to push things away that you don’t want, and invite things in that you do want,” says Crystal, “she instructed us on how to better sit with things and learn to be with things that are.” In fact, this practice helped inspire Crystal to open her studio.

Oshnik Yoga’s other resident instructor, Amy Cline, also actively promotes the mindfulness aspects of yoga as a form of self-care. Speaking from a scientific standpoint, Amy affirms that “there has been a lot of research that has found that yoga helps balance the nervous system, essentially the physical practice to your parasympathetic nervous system, which activates your rest and digest response, and tapers down the sympathetic nervous system, which activate the fight or flight instinct.” According to Amy, this is where the mindfulness aspect of yoga comes into play. “During yoga, we’re thinking about our breathing, our actions and being mindful. It creates this ability to breakdown patterns in our physical yoga practice that tend to correlate with patterns we have in our lives.”

Amy relates that yoga, like many other forms of self-care, “involves examining our own situations, challenging ourselves to grow – and knowing that’s okay.”

Oshnik Yoga offer classes ranging from yoga basics, Bhavana flow, restorative and children’s yoga. While there are set lesson plans, both Crystal and Amy try to accommodate the needs of their students by providing modified or alternative poses. Oshnik Yoga has recently hired a prenatal yoga instructor and will offer Mommy and Me classes this month. For more information on Oshnik Yoga or its classes, click here.