For some, the idea of getting on the ground and grunting, stretching and twisting into a pretzel just for the sake of relaxation sounds more like a chore than a source of getting your "chi" flowing. But for Amelia Maness-Gilliland, owner of Trilogy Wellness Yoga & Fitness Studio in downtown Anniston, it’s a welcome way of life.
She first became acquainted with yoga in the 1990s while earning a master’s degree in health and physical education from Georgia College and State University. "I was trained initially to use it to enhance athletics. I would work with baseball players or the baseball team, just helping them become better athletes using yoga," she said.
"Although I trained in it then, I just didn’t really connect with it," she added. It didn’t become a part of her life until several years later, when enduring the physical and emotional stress of a "particularly difficult" pregnancy.
After relocating with her family to Anniston from Phoenix in 2013, Maness-Gilliland decided to open Trilogy Wellness Yoga & Fitness Studio last year.
Her clientele is mostly female, and she also works with her share of athletes. "I get a lot of runners in on Tuesday nights, and as a runner myself — I no longer run but haved turned to yoga with low back pain from all the years of running — I know where they’re coming from," she said.
Forms of yoga offered in her studio include vinyasa, or flow yoga; power yoga, which is more fitness-focused; and yoga/barre, which incorporates the intense poses of ballet and balance.
On Saturday, the studio is holding a special class called "Picass’om," in which visitors will stretch both their physical and artistic minds.
"I noticed in my own personal hobby of painting that, whenever I was calm or had just finished a yoga practice or had done any kind of meditation and was much more calmer, I could approach the canvas entirely differently," said Maness-Gilliland.
"For someone who’s never done yoga, it can feel a little [intimidating]. And sometimes I feel like art is the same way. If I could just break that down and make it accessible for people to just jump in … because yoga is for everyone and art is for everyone."
Attendees will do a half-hour of yoga and meditation, then take their seats in front of canvases to paint a still-life.
If you’re still feeling restless, free free to indulge in your own form of liquid meditation. "It’s BYOB, so that can be soda, it can be water, it can be wine, it can be beer," she said.
Looking forward, Maness-Gilliland is planning to offer kids camps and incorporate art into the curriculum. Ideally, she’d love to create a space where "people can come do art, they can come do yoga, or they can come do yoga and art. I mean, that goes so well together in my life, I’m hoping that that resonates with other people," she said.
For those who are skeptical about trying out yoga for the first time, Maness-Gilliland said, "I tell people yoga is a practice; you never arrive, it’s just something you commit to practicing, whether that’s the posture or whether that’s taking time to decompress and breathe, to just calm when you’re stressed out.
"If you just show up to yoga, the payoffs are tenfold to me of what you put into it."
Erin Williams is a freelance writer for The Anniston Star.