Athlete In Real Life: Yoga Edition

1 Feb

Meet Jaclyn.

Hi, my name is Jaclyn Gladney (Jackie) and I am a Registered Yoga Teacher in Minneapolis, MN.  I was honored that Kjirsten wanted to do a Q and A on Yoga with me, to share with her fitness community, and jumped at the opportunity.  Her outlook, lifestyle and spirit have inspired me and I am proud to call her my best friend.  I hope that you, her readers enjoy our interview. 

A little about me: What started as a fun work out to kill time turned into a life passion.  I went through a break up  and found myself with lots of extra free time that I wanted to spend bettering myself and benefiting others so I  started volunteering with a few charities and practicing yoga daily.  Yoga made me happy, so I kept going. I heard the announcement at CorePower Yoga about teacher training for months before it clicked.  I knew that I wanted to learn more about yoga and meet new people so I signed up.  I completed my 200 Hour Training Program in November, 2010 for Hot Yoga/Hot Power Yoga and went on to complete a program in Vinyasa/Power Yoga.  After completing my training I realized that I was serious about making yoga a bigger part of my life so I signed up for the Extensions Program at CorePower Yoga, Downtown Minneapolis where I have been training and teaching Hot Yoga with a mentor.  In addition to the Extensions Program, I have been working with a mentor and teaching Vinyasa and Hot Yoga at LifeCore Yoga.   I am happy to be in my final week of the Extensions Program but view my yoga education as something I will continue.  To me being a yoga teacher means having a job where I serve others so I plan to keep educating myself to give my students the best experience possible. I am not sure what the future holds but I am excited to see where life takes me. 



What drew you to yoga?

I danced and did gymnastics my whole life and found exercise machines boring and was drawn to working out and using my brain at the same time.  The physical practice of yoga (the yoga asanas) force you to be completely present, concentrate on breath and where each and every part of your body and mind are at all times. 


What is the single most important lesson your yoga practice has taught or given to you?

There are so many and I am discovering them all of the time so if you would ask me tomorrow I would come up with a completely different answer.  But at this moment I would have to go with: Yoga has taught me to be aware of my thoughts and has empowered me to control them.  Once we understand this and start to shift our thoughts away from ones that don’t serve us and focus them to ones that do, we are more at peace and are able to better serve our world.  This basic, fundamental lesson is one that most of us learn in primary school but we tend to forget about.  It is the base of yoga.


What style do you practice?  What would you recommend to first time yoga students to try if they are feeling uncomfortable about going to a class?

All physical postures/asanas that we practice are considered hatha yoga which people have been practicing since prehistoric times.  Only recently have we formed schools or styles of yoga asanas.  I have studied and teach HOT Yoga and Power/Vinyasa Yoga.  I practice these styles as well as Bikram and Iyengar.  I would like to say that all yoga is good yoga and any yoga you choose to do is fantastic.  I would also like to say that everyone who has ever taken a yoga class was uncomfortable their first time.  A few people a day express interest in beginning yoga and tell me that they haven’t started yet because of that first class fear. We have all been there and all you have to do and get yourself into the class room and you’ll find that the students receive you with open arms and your instructor takes care of you from there.  Yoga is for all adults, from all walks of life, at all levels.  Ask yourself what you are wanting to gain from your yoga practice and then try a few styles to see what you like. (See the Yoga Styles post from last night for descriptions of different styles of yoga.  Jackie’ suggest calling ahead of time to make sure the class is beginner friendly).


What is your favorite yoga pose and why?

Humble Warrior-it opens my hips, shoulders and chest, stretches my calves, spine and hamstrings, fires up my core and quads, works my balance, is an inversion so it cools me and brings oxygenated blood to all of my muscles giving me energy.  But most of all I love it because it is beautiful and it is a surrender pose so I have time to return to my intention or dedication.



How have you seen yourself benefit from yoga, mind, body and spiritually?

I could write three or four or five text book sized stories answering this question and still not be finished.  In short, I have lost weight, gained strength and an appreciation for my body, I am able to think more clearly, regulate my appetite and sleep cycles, the pain from arthritis from old gymnastics injuries is gone, and I feel I am my most true authentic self.


How often do you practice yoga?

Yoga is a philosophy that has 8 parts.  The eight parts (referred to as the 8 Limbed Path in the Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali) are guidelines to living a successful, peaceful life.  I practice the philosophy of yoga at every moment.  The physical practice/asanas are just one of the eight limbs which I practice every day.  I try to take a class from another teacher each day and if I cannot make it to one I spend an hour on my mat guiding myself through a practice. 


How has your diet changed since starting yoga?

I took my first yoga class at the age of 13 and I feel like we all have practiced yoga whether we know it or not.  The physical postures/asanas of yoga are very organic and natural for us.  My 1 year old niece Parker has the best cobra pose, happy baby and upward dog that I have ever seen! 

View Image

My diet looks nothing like it did 3 years ago.  I spent 2 years educating myself on the environmental, health, ecological and moral issues of our food industry and made a slow transition to a vegan diet.  Our cultural ideals can be contradictory.  For instance, there is pressure to look a certain way and looking that way is impossible for most people and improbable for the rest when there is nothing more American than apple pie, hot dogs, burgers and beer.  I am not saying that enjoying these foods is wrong or that having a certain body type is bad, rather that pressure to be accepted in a culture that sends such apposing messages leads many of us to fall victim to shame, low self esteem, poor body image and unhealthy habits. 

I mindfully committed myself to my yoga practice on my mat about 2 years ago.  At that time I was still eating fish and some dairy and will be the first to admit that I had felt pressure to be a certain way since puberty and had developed unhealthy habits as a result.  My yoga practice helped me to recognize where I was at, address it and change my habits.  I took the vow to transition into being a full vegan in October of 2008 and to do so because I  love myself and wanted to be the best me I could be.  My intentions were pure and they didn’t include any vanity or punishment.  I have shifted my focus away from attaining a perfect body to focusing on eating and drinking things that nurture and fuel my body.  I have gained so much in letting go and have found that I am happier with my body than I ever have been thanks to my yoga practice making me more aware and leading me to a new healthy mindset.


Would you say yoga has reduced daily stresses in life?

Yes.  100% yes!   Two of the eight limbs of yoga are meditation and breath.  Meditation has allowed me to take a step back during stressful times to take a deep breath, literally!


Why would you tell others to start practicing yoga?

I would never tell anyone to do yoga.  If someone expressed interest or if they asked for my opinion I would recommend it.  Yoga addresses all of the systems of the body and the mind.  Yoga restores, prevents, strengthens. stretches and relaxes our body and can be cardio depending on the style practiced.  It does all of that while training the mind and the breath to focus on staying present and remaining calm.  Yoga is a total body conditioner and is safe and healthy for all adults of all ages from all walks of life. 



We have a lot of runners, who read this website, what yoga pose would you recommend for them to loosen up the hamstrings?

Many athletes have tight hamstrings and there are so many poses to loosen them.  In the morning I would recommend spending time on a few that would energize and at night I would suggest focusing on a few that will relax you.  People who have tight hamstrings have a hard time stretching their lower backs because they feel strain in their hamstrings in a stretch long before the benefits for the spine can be attained so the series have stretches for the back too. 


  • Regular Childs pose
  • Down Dog
  • Forward fold-rag doll with slight bend to the knees quads engaged.
  • Standing Separate Leg Forward Fold
  • Standing Separate Leg Forward Fold with modified down dog (finger tips reaching away from the body to find length in the spine


  • Childs Pose
  • Ardha Hamanamasina-half splits
  • Wind Removing Pose
  • Seated separate Leg Head to Knee
  • Seated forward fold with bent knees lengthening the spine

Spend 30 seconds to 1 minute on each pose.  That’s all it takes.


What are some things about yoga that people don’t know but would be surprised to know?

I’ve mentioned the Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali. Yoga is not a religion, it is a map or a list of guidelines on how to live a happy, healthy life.  The sutra’s do not recommend being a certain religion and do not oppose any religion.  They can be practiced by people of all religions. 

You can do yoga anywhere.  You can download a teachers voice on iTunes or get a book from the library and practice anywhere. 

Yoga names/asanas are in Sanskrit-the oldest known language.




 Question:  Have you ever tried yoga?

Do you have any questions for Jaclyn? 

What is your favorite yoga pose? 


21 Responses to “Athlete In Real Life: Yoga Edition”

  1. Shanna, like Banana February 1, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    Lovely poses! And I completely am in tune with what Jaclyn says about yoga. I absolutely love it. Though lately all I’ve been doing is Bikram, I appreciate all types. My favorite pose is standing bow!

  2. Kat February 1, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Awesome!! I really need to start practicing more yoga. It gives me hope that she says it got rid of her arthitis. My knees and back are messed up from years of soccer, so I really hope yoga will do the same for me! Thanks for this post!

  3. Alex @ Healing Beauty February 1, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Any suggestions for overcoming yoga class shyness? I practice yoga at home but am a little nervous about going to a class at a studio.

    • Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life February 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

      Like Jackie suggested you could call ahead to make sure the class is beginner friendly. Most teachers will spend extra time with you to make sure you are doing the poses correctly. They are more than happy to help. Remember, everyone begins at some point, so we’ve all been the newbie in the class! : )

  4. movesnmunchies February 1, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    AWESOME post!!i am trying to hard to get into yoga.. i can never shut up my mind though and my flexibility is horrible!

  5. Livvy February 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    I loved reading this! Thank you so much for the little interview, I can’t wait to try out the night time poses tonight before bed:) I’m addicted to yoga so it’s so refreshing to read this and remind myself why I love it so much! The pain feels great!

    • Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life February 1, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

      I love reading inspiring Q&A’s about health and fitness. I alway get super motivated and remember why I love what I do so much too!

  6. cbrady3 February 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    Great interview! My favorite yoga pose is standing bow

  7. Angie @ The Fitness Apple February 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    Just came across your blog and thank GOD I did because I was looking for a yoga related blog! 🙂 looking forward to reading all of your posts!

  8. Natalia - a side of simple February 1, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    Thanks, Jackie and Kjirsten, for this post! I think it’s so great hearing about different athletes and practices, and yoga in particular really intrigues me. I don’t know anyone personally who does yoga, so this is great!

  9. Laury @thefitnessdish February 1, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    What a great guest post on yoga!! I must admit…years ago when I first took a yoga class, I had a teacher that really turned me off to it. I was taking a beginner/intermediate class and everything was SO difficult. And I was really in shape, exercising 6-7 times a week, very strong. But lacking flexibility. Luckily, I gave it another shot and LOVED it. It’s all about practicing at your own pace, and I did not get that impression from that first class.

    I love this:

    Yoga has taught me to be aware of my thoughts and has empowered me to control them.

    I definitely feel more at peace when I practice yoga! I have been doing some prenatal yoga and LOVE it. I am in search of a new class because they dropped the one on the night I was taking it. It always made me feel amazing!!!

    Thanks for all the info!

    • Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life February 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

      No problem! I’m glad you liked the guest post! It is so great you are taking prenatal yoga! It’s a great way to still practice even when you are pregnant!

  10. Stacie@sugarandsneakers February 2, 2011 at 5:25 am #

    I do have a question actually – Whenever I do yoga my mind sends to go into overdrive to compensate for the lack of stimulation otherwise. How do you clear your head to focus?

  11. kelly @ D2BD and Cocktails & Cardio March 23, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    I’ve only had one intro to yoga and that is through P90X so I would have to say if I had a favorite pose it would probably be happy baby. Nothing feels better than the cool down of that workout and happy baby is a wonderful feeling. Now that I can properly do Up Dog w/ my knees off the floor [cobra knees down] I feel like I love that pose too. I think my hardest issues is crane and maybe a few other balance poses but I love how I feel when I’m done. I look forward to possibly trying a few classes here locally some day. Thank you for sharing this! I’m late to the party but wanted to comment.

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