By April Ziemer
In yoga practice, “Namaste” has a literal translation of, “I bow to you.” It is usually used at the conclusion of a yoga class. The gesture of Namaste though, represents the belief that there is a divine spark within each of us and that we shall send something good out into the universe. A 2008 Amery graduate is doing just that. Her journey has led her back to town, where she is sharing the therapeutic effects of yoga. Alyssa Montana recently opened up Great Blue Yoga in downtown Amery and people are flocking in to experience the health beneficial results that regular yoga practices can provide.
Yoga is a 3,000-year-old tradition that is observed as a holistic approach to health.
The word “yoga” comes from a Sanskrit root “yuj” which means union or to join and to direct and concentrate one’s attention. Therapeutic yoga is defined as the application of yoga postures and practice to the treatment of health conditions and involves instruction in yogic practices and teachings to prevent reduce or alleviate structural, physiological, emotional and spiritual pain, suffering or limitations. Results from this study show that yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.
Montana said, “Yoga is the practice of connecting in the present. It’s not a religion or simply a workout. Yoga is tool to practice self-care. It helps you create space to identify what you need to ‘fill your cup’ to feel whole. My students attend classes here for all different intentions from building strength, increasing flexibility, reducing stress, to sleep better and much more. It doesn’t matter why, it just matters that you show up for you.”
Montana’s first experience with yoga was a college gym course at UW Stout in 2009 and from there she was hooked. Her training background not only includes Yoga but also Reiki, Thai Yoga Bodywork and Barre. She completed her 200 Hour Yoga teacher Training from CorePower in St. Paul, MN, in 2012 and her 340 Hour Yoga teacher Training from Devanadi School of Yoga & Wellness in Minneapolis in 2016. She has also also taken many different continuing education courses, workshops and retreats specializing in different styles of yoga including AcroYoga, SUP Yoga, Children’s Yoga, Chair Yoga and Restorative Yoga.
“Anybody can do yoga. There are no requirements such as age, flexibility, weight, etc. You do not need to be a skinny white woman who can do a handstand on the beach to do yoga. The key is to discover which style of yoga best supports your goals and needs. It’s also very important to have the support of a teacher who has the knowledge and experience to show you modifications for different poses and movements for your unique body,” Montana said.
Great Blue Yoga offers seven different styles of yoga and a barre classes. The classes range from lots of movement with weights to complete stillness and relaxation with blankets and bolsters (aka big, sturdy pillows). One of the basic foundations to yoga is self-awareness. Montana said, “This studio is here to hold space whenever you’re ready to discover what practice best supports you physically, mentally and emotionally.” Certified instructors that continue their education after their initial certification teach all classes. They all have a personal practice and share from their unique and authentic experience. “Our teachers commit to growing with their students,” said Montana.
“I teach my students how to be present and how to be observers. I teach them how to identify signals in the body, mind, breath and emotions. The more awareness students find on the mat, the easier it is to be aware of their reactions in their everyday life. That is why we call yoga and meditation a practice (it’s not a workout, it’s a work-in), and it is a skill that takes time to develop. The skill of basic mindfulness allows us to show up as the best versions of ourselves,” she said.
Montana said she loves all of the beautiful parks, lakes and the river in Amery, as she is an outdoor adventure enthusiast. When she is not at the studio, you can find her skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, biking or hiking. She shared she always follows her intuition, which is what led her back to Amery. She said, “At this time in my life, I feel I am supposed to be rooted here to provide this space and these teachings.”