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Attempt to Master the Body and Mind at Hotlanta Yoga

By Marina I. Jokic

Originating in India, the yogic disciplines consist of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that gave rise to a variety of schools across the world. Immensely popular in the West, different types of yoga have overtaken the world of fitness by storm. A professional yogi for more than a decade, Malia Hilliard is the owner of Hotlanta Yoga studio in Atlanta, Georgia.

After years of traveling around the world with her partner and fellow yogi, Hilliard decided it was time to plant her roots and settle down. At first, Atlanta might not have seemed like the natural choice for opening a yoga studio, but in fact, the city's history has a close relationship with yogic philosophy. Martin Luther King Jr. based his entire ideology of civil disobedience on Gandhi's teachings, which were in turn founded on yogic beliefs and practices.

"On our drive across the country, we realized that Atlanta had its own unique history with yoga," says Hilliard. In fact, MLK Jr. often quoted Gandhi in his speeches and had a portrait of him hanging above his dining room table.

"We felt the serendipity of coming to this historic place, two wandering yogis finally settling down, and knew we were on to something when we found a studio space right smack dab in the middle of the Martin Luther King National Park the first day we began looking," excitedly adds Hilliard.

Interestingly enough, there were no other yoga studios for miles in that area of Atlanta, and the haven that Hilliard and her partner had found turned out to be a mecca for yogic thought in the U.S. Yoga's philosophy had already established its reputation in the city as a powerful catalyst for change. It had proven to the community that it could transform thoughts and actions, and upend the status quo. Opening a yoga studio on Edgewood and Boulevard was long overdue.

"Yoga is the most powerful transformational tool I have ever come across," says Hilliard. At Hotlanta Yoga, they teach their own style of yoga called Athletic Power, utilizing postures that are functional and safe and simultaneously use multiple muscles and joints to improve muscular endurance, overall strength, coordination, balance, and agility.

The sequencing of poses emphasizes a cardiovascular workout, which gets the heart rate up and brings on a lot of sweat. Focusing on the body's core and improving joint stability, Athletic Power Yoga is great for busy parents and professional athletes alike.

The physical benefits of practicing yoga are well known: lowering stress, regulating blood pressure, and promoting a healthy heart. "The postures and the flow of the sequences provide a very unique and very powerful tool to help reduce stress in the mind and tension in the body," adds Hilliard. In addition to strengthening the body and improving flexibility, yoga actually trains us to curb our reactivity in the face of heightened emotions.

To Hilliard, the ability to control one's reactions is nothing short of a mental feat. The better we can control our minds, the more power we possess in our lives and the more we are capable of experiencing joy. In addition, the less tension we retain in our bodies, the more energy we have to spend on more productive endeavors that actually make us happy. "I don't know how anyone lives without yoga, and it is ultimately fulfilling to share such an incredible practice with our community," she emphasizes.

Contrary to popular conceptions, doing yoga in a warm environment does not necessarily equate to Hot Yoga, Hilliard points out. Athletic Power Yoga is a unique blend of yogic postures designed specifically to target body, mind, and spirit in unison. Keeping the studio extra warm promotes flexibility and loosens the muscles and promotes a cleansing sweat. "It doesn't feel like you are doing yoga in a sauna in our studio, it feels more like you are working out in the tropics," she adds.

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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