Influencer: Juliana Olmstead of Rhode Island Hot Yoga

Wisdom on rethinking expectations for year ahead

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With the new year upon us, do you have any tips for making “new year, new me” stick?

After seven plus years in business, we’ve moved away from the “new year, new you” concept. Too often, we would see students join a class in January, put unrealistic expectations on themselves, overdo it for a few weeks, and then never come back again! Our mantra for January 2022 is “new year, same you,” because we think everyone needs a good dose of radical self-acceptance during these crazy times. We’ve been living through a global pandemic, among other things, and it’s been mentally and emotionally draining. I would like to see everyone take the pressure off themselves and focus on self-care rather than self-improvement this year. If you can just keep showing up for yourself, you’re doing great. The beautiful part is that when you release yourself from those expectations, you’re moving in the direction of a more sustainable, life-long yoga practice, which is a lot more likely to “stick.”

Do you have advice for someone beginning their yoga practice?

Remember that you don’t need to compete with anybody, not even yourself! During your first three to five classes, you’ll just be getting the hang of the routine and figuring out the right intensity level for you. There are many styles of yoga and they all have their own learning curve, so keep an open mind. If things don’t “click” in your first session, give it another chance or try a different class. Your only goal should be to feel good when you leave. On a practical level, it’s a good idea to make a reservation and arrive a little early on your first day so that you can meet the teacher and settle in comfortably. Most importantly, focus on your breath and enjoy taking time for yourself. Everything else will come with time.

What’s hot yoga all about?

I’ve come to enjoy all different types of yoga, but hot yoga was my first true love! The heat is an incredible tool for warming up your muscles, improving cardiovascular health, and boosting your endorphins. Especially during our cold New England winters, spending time in the heat can elevate your mood and reduce the effects of seasonal depression. For those with arthritis or stiff bodies, the heat can be a great pain reliever and makes movement much easier.

When you aren’t running your studio, what do you like to do in your free time?

When I’m not working on my business (studios in both Bristol and Providence), I try to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air as much as possible with my husband John and our 14-year-old golden retriever Abby. During the colder weather, I love to bake and experiment in the kitchen. I also belatedly picked up a pandemic hobby and started teaching myself the guitar, and I’m loving it!

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