Prema Patti Kristiansen describes yoga as “a way to embrace life.”

The Waldoboro resident teaches the ancient mind and body discipline to people of all ages and abilities at the Thomaston Yoga Studio at 185 Main St. She has been an instructor for about 12 years and has had the studio in Thomaston for a little over a year.

Kristiansen said yoga addresses a person as a whole. It looks at how one’s breathing patterns might affect a back ache, or how posture can influence one’s mood. The instructor offers several kinds of classes including “gentle flows” or hatha yoga, Kripalu YogaDance, and restorative yoga.

“Using posture, movement, and breath, hatha yoga addresses an individual on both the psychological and physical levels,” she said in an e-mail. “The whole person benefits: the muscular, skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, reproductive … and nervous systems.”

The dance classes offer more movement, and she said they are characterized by joy. Restorative yoga uses more props including blankets, foam blocks and eye pillows and offers support in helping people perform the poses. In addition to working at the studio, Kristiansen also teaches adult education courses.

She describes the studio as a sanctuary for the unfolding of the mind, body and spirit — a place to relax, restore, move and heal.

In addition to offering group classes of up to 12 people, she works one-on-one with some clients and visits people in their homes. Kristiansen said she also specializes in working with children and adults who have special needs.

She is a nationally registered Yoga Alliance teacher and recently became certified as a Kripalu YogaDance instructor.

She said she does not do the power yoga or vigorous workouts. “It’s gentle and therapeutic,” she said of her style of instruction.

Kristiansen is originally from Connecticut and has been living in Waldoboro for a number of years. She said she has been doing yoga since she was 12 years old and began to study it in depth in 1993.

At the time she had been going to Kennebec Valley Community College to study occupational therapy and was busy raising two small children. She started a personal yoga regimen to help alleviate her stress, she said.

Later, working at a nursing home, she asked herself, “Could there be something more?” She said that’s when she decided to make teaching yoga her career.

Yoga dates back at least 5,000 years to ancient India. Kristiansen said it can be useful for people coping in today’s culture, which often emphasizes working, rushing around and stressing out. Yoga can help people in everyday activities such as attending a stressful meeting or eating a meal at lunchtime, she said. Through it all, yoga helps people remain calm and flexible.

“What yoga does is make a person more mindful, more aware of his/her body,” she said in an e-mail. “… So we become very aware of how everything we do affects our body/mind. Including what we eat, how we eat it, in a rush or savoring each bite. We begin to notice each moment more, and then we are able to make wiser choices in all aspects of life.”

She listed the benefits as improving mood, increasing lung capacity, reducing heart rate and blood pressure, relaxing muscles, alleviating anxiety, depression and insomnia, and dealing with chronic low-back pain.

She said yoga is not a religion.

The instructor said Prema is her yoga name, given to her when she reached a certain level in her training.

Each class concludes with the yogic phrase “Namaste,” which translates to “I honor that place in each of us where we are one.”

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