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Just breathe

Yoga for everyone has arrived in North Liberty
Samantha Myers has opened Samantra Yoga Studio in North Liberty. “Samantra” is a combination of the owner’s first name and the word “mantra,” a personally meaningful word used in meditation. (photo by Lori Lindner)

By Lori Lindner
North Liberty Leader

NORTH LIBERTY– Intention. Gratitude. Joy.
Any of these words could become one’s own mantra, a personal meditation cue meant to focus the mind, relax the body and connect with one’s inner spirit.
For Samantha Myers, RYT, they are elements of her life’s next new journey.
The North Liberty resident just opened the doors of Samantra Yoga Studio at 620 Pacha Parkway (next to Debut Dance), with classes beginning Friday, Aug. 1.
A graduate with a degree in information management systems, Myers’ first career was as a project manager and web developer. At day’s end, though, she would relieve the stress of the day through regular exercise, and was invited to try a yoga class with a friend.
“I fell in love with yoga from my very first class,” said Myers. “That evolved to me going into training. It’s a long process; you have to commit at least 200 hours for your initial certification.”
Even then, Myers was only going through the certification process for fun, thinking her practice would be restricted to the gym.
“The more training I went to, the more I fell in love with the entire practice; not just the physical aspect, but the mindfulness aspect, the breathing, all that. I decided to return to school and get a degree in health and human physiology. It gives you the science behind the body, and it was such a great integration of everything I’d learned.”
About four years ago, she began to dream of opening her own studio and teaching yoga every day, but asked herself if she could actually make a career out of her passion.
“I was in a transition point in my life so I slowly started following the path. Suddenly, everything snowballed and it all opened up and became very available to me. I followed that calling, and here we are,” said Myers, seated in her bright, inviting new studio.
Yoga, while rooted in a number of ancient religious disciplines, is very generally the practice of using physical postures, breathing and meditation techniques to transform and connect the body and mind.
“Yoga provides you an opportunity to find things in your body and yourself you never knew were there,” said Myers. “The transformation I felt immediately in my body was just amazing. Physically, it complements other workout regimens. The mindfulness part of yoga suddenly changed everything for me as well.”
Myers hopes to share that life-transforming feeling with others, and opening the first yoga studio in North Liberty is the beginning.
“I just love living here, but as North Liberty expanded, I just kept thinking, there is not a studio here. I was driving into Iowa City every day to practice,” Myers said. The new location is convenient to the smaller surrounding towns as well. “This is a gift I want to share with the community. I live here and want to be very involved in this community and this is a good opportunity for that.”
Myers wants everyone to feel welcome in her studio, whether for the first time or after years of practice.
“I want my studio to be accessible to everybody, and every body,” said Myers, emphasizing the difference. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, what size you are, what gender you are. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had one day of yoga or 100 days. It’s really important to me to have classes accessible to a number of different people, whether beginners or power classes for those more advanced in their practice. I always tell my students, yoga is a journey and not a destination. Just like anything in life, you are never done learning, searching or creating.”
But everyone has to take the first step.
“Really the hardest part is walking through the door and getting on your mat for the first time. Once you take that leap, it kind of unfolds,” said Myers. Whether individuals take it further or not, Myers said it is still good.
“Maybe it never expands beyond the physical practice, but that’s okay because there is so much benefit there, even in just the physical practice. I always try to make my students feel confident in what they find.”
And Myers is confident all students can find balance at Samantra Yoga Studio.
“I mean that in a lot of ways,” she said. “From a physical aspect, you begin to recognize if one side of your body is tighter than another and you begin to balance that out, which helps your entire muscular and skeletal system. It helps you perform better.”
Yoga improves internal balance as well, Myers continued.
“We’re busy people. We run from here to there all day long, and we have the stresses of job and life. Good and bad, there is always a lot going on, but there is very little time in your day when you just sit and get quiet, and actually pay attention to what is going on in your body and your mind,” Myers said. At the end of her classes, students practice Shavasana, a time for complete, mindful relaxation. “That’s when you are able to identify more what is going on in your mind and body and bring it into balance. Your body responds so much to your mental state.”
Finally, Myers said, yoga teaches one to breathe. Really breathe.
“We use only a small portion of our capacity to breathe. When you actually stop to take a deep breath, your whole body responds to that. If you learn how to breathe in yoga, you can move forward with that in life, so when you encounter a stressful situation, you know how to breathe through it.”
Children experience similar benefits from yoga, she said. Samantra studio will offer classes for children in two different age groups.
“Kids play, so that’s what we do. We introduce the poses through games and play. We also work with them to develop focus, which really helps with school studies. Yoga also teaches kids how to breathe, and how (controlled breathing) can be applied to tough situations at school or with friends,” said Myers.
Finally, Myers is certified to work with specific populations, such as breast cancer survivors, and offers private, one-on-one sessions to clients as well.
From Monday morning sunrise yoga to yin/restorative classes on Sunday nights, with classes for beginners, hot yoga and Vinyasa for more vigorous participation, strength-focused classes using light weights and gentle flow sessions, meditation classes, private lessons plus classes for kids, Myers said there really is something for everyone at the Samantra Yoga Studio.
“Yoga in essence is about breathing. Truly anybody can do it,” said Myers. “Beyond that, it’s about listening to your body. Your teacher is there to guide you, but it’s always about your practice and your body and how you feel in those poses. There are always modifications and progressions through every pose. It is my goal to make yoga accessible to everyone; giving everyone options to do something different in their pose, in their classes, in their practice.”