Meet Anna Winkler, a yoga practitioner and teacher since 1988, Anna is Director of Shakti Yoga & living arts in Maplewood, NJ. Read our interview with her below and learn more about her - and her business. If you're local, be sure to stop by her lovely studio and check out the studio's boutique!
Lotus & Bug: Tell us a little about yourself.
Anna Winkler: I’ve been teaching and practicing yoga since 1988. When I got into yoga while in Los Angeles, there were only two studios in the yellow pages (before the internet!), Kundalini and Sivananda. I ruled out the Kundalini and found a home for myself with the Sivananda Yoga organization. After six months of taking classes, courses and workshops, I sold what little I owned, decided against graduate school and opted for a Yoga Teacher Training course in South India. I flew to Bombay (now called Mumbai) by myself, without a connecting ticket (to Trivandrum). Those were the days… I was involved with the Sivananda organization as a volunteer staff member and a celibate for six years. After I left the organization, I worked in the corporate world for a few years in New York City recruiting computer programmers, pre "dot-bomb" era. Then, I met my future husband and moved to Millburn, NJ. In 2001, I left the corporate world and started teaching a few classes and doing some Thai massage, slowly building up a yoga studio in Millburn called The Yoga Room. The studio moved to Maplewood, NJ in 2005 as Shakti Yoga & living arts and we have been truckin’ along there ever since.
L & B: What helps you balance your career and personal life?
AW: Having your own business is both wonderful and difficult. You get to be your own boss and make your own hours, but you work, what seems like, all the time! Even so, I do make time to get to the beach in summer and the sauna in winter. Yoga classes and dinner with friends in the city help make it work!
L & B: Where do you find inspiration?
AW:I find inspiration in my practice and my work with students and clients. I am also inspired by my teachers, by nature and my continual studies. I’m a lifelong student.
L & B: What is your first childhood memory?
AW:Candy, maybe. I grew up in a time of candy shops, with all that terrible stuff for five cents! Growing up in Iowa, I remember running around town and in the parks with my cousins, it was wild and fun! I skipped out of kindergarten for a week before getting caught! School was right around the corner from our house, so I walked to school, then snuck back home when my mom left for bowling, and watched my favorite show, Batman and Robin! (I don't recommend doing that!).
L & B: Did you have a role model growing up?
AW:Not really, though we all modeled ourselves after movie and television stars of the time. In high school, in a VERY small town in southeast Iowa, my best friend was a middle aged British woman named Jean O. Collins-Glass. She was married to an Irish Fire Chief. Their daughter married the man who owned the gas station/grocery store/deli that I managed (almost full time) during my high school years. We would have tea or ginger ale with beer after school and gossip about everyone in town. It passed the time nicely.
L & B: What’s your favorite aspect about living in your community?
AW:I love watching our yoga and healing arts community exploding onto the scene. I mean really, do you know anyone who’s NOT a yoga teacher? Or crystal healer? Or something like that?
L & B: Where is your favorite place to travel to?
AW:Everywhere. Though, I am making my sixth trip to India for the month of September, teaching the asana portion of a Sivananda Style Yoga Teacher Training program in Uttarkashi, in the Himalayas on the banks of the Ganges. It doesn’t get much better than that!
L & B: What is the one thing you’ve never done that you would like to do?
AW: Attain Enlightenment.
L & B: One of our mantras at Lotus & Bug is "Be Active. Be Brave. Be Kind.” In what ways have you been Active, Brave, or Kind?
AW: Active: I practice Ashtanga Yoga, which is very vigorous. I teach yoga, do Thai and table massage and basically run around on my legs all day long. Brave: I love challenges, of all kinds. When I first went to India in 1988, Louis Hay’s book had just come out and I remember writing over and over before I went, "I am brave and courageous." I left Iowa when I was 18 and traveling to, and living in, San Diego, Hawaii, Los Angeles, India, New York and Canada ending up here, in New Jersey (for now). Being Kind: I feel like I’m pretty inclusive and think about what would make others happy. I practice Buddhism and work towards inhaling suffering and exhaling happiness, whenever I can remember.
L & B: Would you rather fly or read minds?
AW: Read minds, while flying!
L & B: What was the last gift you gave someone?
L & B: What’s your favorite item in your closet?
AW:My India Pile, at the moment.
L & B: Is there anything else you would like to share?