Author Anita Perry: “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”
In my personal yoga practice as well as in my classes, I am a great believer of using yoga to set goals and intentions. In a meditative state, such as during the centering part of yoga or savasana, the final resting pose, the mind is open to receiving messages. I tell my students to make their intentions even more powerful by connecting it to their breath patterns. When you set an intention and voice it, you are sending it out into the Universe and the Universe will respond…
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Anita Perry.
Anita Perry (Yoga Anita) is an author, educator, yogi, and blogger with over 40 years in the health and fitness field. She provides yoga, meditation instruction, and inspiration in group, individual, corporate, and school settings. She writes for her own blog, is a guest blogger for others and has been featured on Alignable.com, Boston Voyager, and Fitsmallbusiness.com. Recently Yoga Anita was a recipient of the Global Health and Pharmacy Alternative Medicine & Holistic Health Awards, 2019. Ms. Perry is the author of Yogaminute and Yoga Wisdom-Reflections of a Practicing Yogi and online video courses. Ms. Perry was voted Best Yoga and Meditation Instructor two years in a row and was recently named to the Fitness Experts to Follow in 2019 list.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
I first became involved in fitness over 40 years ago when I needed a part time job for college and I ended up working in a gym. I received on the job training, and started doing personal training and fitness classes. Looking for more fitness education, I became involved with IDEA (currently the American Council on Exercise) and became one of the first cohorts to meet the criteria for aerobic certification. I started and operated Healthwatch Workshops, an organization dedicated to providing continuing education for fitness instructors and group fitness classes for my community.
Once my children came along, I also became more educated in natural healing using aromatherapy, vitamins, and herbs. Eventually I started Yoga Anita to share with my yoga practice and assist others with theirs.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Yes, I tell my yoga students that when I first started yoga, I hated it! I thought it was too slow, and I didn’t have the patience to sit still, relax, and meditate. Eventually though, repetitive stress injuries caught up to me. Added to that, the stress of being a full time classroom teacher, homemaker, mother, and caregiver, was leading to physical and mental exhaustion. I refocused, went back into a teacher training, and now yoga is my primary way of life.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I had to learn to offer pose assists and not be offended when students did not want my assistance. I also learned that wind relieving pose is called that for a reason!
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I started in the health and fitness industry in 1978 and quickly learned that there was a right way and a wrong way to teach fitness. I made sure I learned the right way, by taking classes and courses, becoming certified in my areas, and staying current through continuing education. I also like to share my knowledge with others. I wrote two books on yoga and currently have an online video series as well. I write monthly newsletters to keep my students up to date and have an online members only Facebook group for discussions and questions.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When I was first starting out, I was lucky enough to audition and get a job with the Richard Simmons organization working in the clubs called Richard Simmons Anatomy Asylums. It was such a positive learning experience and an uplifting work environment. Meeting the man himself was also a thrill!
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
Routine, time, Intention. Everyone has a set routine that they follow and to deviate from that routine is unsettling. People have great intentions (we see it every New Years Day) but following through takes time and dedication. I teach my students to set small doable goals, reinforce those goals with a daily affirmation, and then scheduling the time to carry out those goals.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”?
My 5 Lifestyle Tweaks include:
- staying well with yoga and meditation
- setting goals
- rebounding from disappointments
- living in a state of gratitude
- adopting a seva (service) lifestyle
Staying Well with Yoga and Meditation
You cannot be truly well unless you are in balance with your mind, body, and spirit. The physical part of yoga (asana) brings us into the present moment. We become aware of the sensations in the body, the breath in the body, the effect of holding postures in the body. Combine that with a meditation practice and now we are drawing our attention inward, nourishing the spirit. In his book, Yoga as Medicine, Dr. Timothy McCall outlines how yoga can be used to benefit the healthy as well as the sick. Yoga helps to reduce stress, increase flexibility, improve balance and strength, lower blood pressure, lift your mood, increase oxygen supply and that’s only a small list of what yoga can do.
In my personal yoga practice as well as in my classes, I am a great believer of using yoga to set goals and intentions. In a meditative state, such as during the centering part of yoga or savasana, the final resting pose, the mind is open to receiving messages. I tell my students to make their intentions even more powerful by connecting it to their breath patterns. When you set an intention and voice it, you are sending it out into the Universe and the Universe will respond, which might lead to #3.
Rebounding From Disappointments
So you set an intention, send it out into the Universe and the Universe responded-but not the way you expected. It happens and it is discouraging. Personally since I became fully immersed in yoga, it has happened more times than I can count, including job loss, ageism, death of loved ones, dealing with toxic people and unstable work environments. I could have wallowed in self pity or given up, but for me all this lead to writing my second book, Yoga Wisdom-Reflections of a Practicing Yogi. When you are disappointed with your results, it helps to ask : “What is the Universe trying to teach me?” and tune into the answer. It might be that you have to get unstuck and make changes. The more we fight the Universe, the more we feel unsettled and out of balance.
Living in a State of Gratitude
A big lesson for me is to never take anything for granted and that includes loved ones, relationships, jobs, health, and material possessions.I’ve lost them all at one time or another and while it is sad and discouraging, it is also an opportunity to look at what you do have and just say thankyou to your higher power for the chance to live, breathe, and do the work you were born to do.
Adopting a Seva (Service) Lifestyle
As a followup to lesson #4, using your talents to do good helps you to live in a state of gratitude for all your blessings. And there is nothing better to help you to rebound from disappointments than being of service to others.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
Daily exercise helps with health conditions, controls weight, and produces those endorphins that help you feel great!
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
Walking for cardio fitness, weight training to keep the muscles strong, yoga stretches for relaxation.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story? I have quite a few but here are some of my favorites: Yoga as Medicine by Timothy McCall; Living Yoga, edited by Georg Feuerstein, The Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi by Brian Leaf. All of them help to make yoga accessible to everyone.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Yoga as part of the curriculum. It is so beneficial to help both teachers and students to calm their bodies and practice self management. This movement has already started but I would love to see it in every school.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I think the classic, “Do unto others as you would want to be done unto you” holds true for me in all areas of my life. It reminds us to be kind, show empathy, and to share our time, treasure, and talents with others.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
My present hero is Tom Brady. His commitment to his sport as well as his healthy lifestyle is a great example. I particularly like that he is a positive role model for young fans too. I would love to talk to him about his TB12 lifestyle plan as well as his business model for making it grow.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?