STRIKE A POSE
CBS 2 EVENING NEWS ANCHOR KRISTINE JOHNSON FINDS THE PATH TO HEALTH THROUGH YOGA
Anchorwoman and Upper Saddle River resident Kristine Johnson is always on the go, balancing a competitive workload with motherhood and life in suburbia. Johnson, who has anchored the evening news on CBS 2 for the past eight years, finds that yoga gives her a sense of calm and clarity that keep her both fit and focused in her life.
Johnson was in good shape and working out at a local gym but wanted to improve her body mass index. She participated in group classes, weight training, spinning and even kickboxing. She began working with a personal trainer once a week and learned about incorporating a healthy eating plan. Johnson says that while she could feel the results of the power workouts, there was still something missing. She became bored and burned out and wanted to try something different.
In December 2012, Johnson’s sisterin-law suggested she try yoga. When she had her first session, she didn’t think it was for her, but after a few more sessions something about it intrigued her. So she put her gym membership on hold, continued her once-a-week personal training sessions at F.O.R.C.E in Ho-Ho-Kus and devoted more time to yoga. She laughs when she recalls that she couldn’t do all the poses at first, but gradually she became more comfortable and responded to the routine.
She chose Home Yoga on Franklin Turnpike in Mahwah to undergo her training. The combination of breathing control, poses and meditation was the perfect mix of experiences for her, plus it gave her the level of workout she was striving for. The 75-minute sessions are
“Taking the practice of yoga off the mat is the biggest challenge, but it’s what keeps me coming back for more. I have learned to be present and enjoy what’s right in front of me. I regulate breathing in times of stress. Go figure – a little oxygen to the brain can work wonders.”
physically intense but also allow for a mental and spiritual release.
“Psychologically, if I don’t sweat, I feel I didn’t work hard enough,” Johnson says, beaming. “When I do hot yoga, I definitely sweat. But it’s much more than that. I feel genuinely relaxed and my mind is clear. I feel renewed. Yoga is so much more than a workout – it’s a lifestyle.”
The journalist’s fast-paced career, especially long working hours and sleep deprivation, causes significant stress in her life.
“I was consumed by stress,” Johnson says, “so much so that it would literally make me sick. One of the surprising benefits I gained from practicing yoga was a new ability to better manage anxiety and stress.”
Johnson recalls a time when her yoga training was especially useful. She was given the opportunity to moderate the New Jersey gubernatorial debate between Chris Christie and Barbara Buono last fall. She knew she had to be on her A-game. Those were both strong personalities and she would have to take charge to make the evening a success.
“This was a big opportunity for me and I was very nervous,” Johnson says. “I needed to successfully keep the pace of the debate on track. I had to be present in the moment and yet one step ahead at the same time. I needed a big dose of confidence, and my yoga training – including the deep breathing exercises – helped me rise to the challenge. When I stepped on stage, I was prepared and confident. It was a wonderful night.”
Johnson goes to the yoga studio as often as she can – at least three to four times a week. She has a small, tranquil yoga room in her Upper Saddle River home. In addition, she keeps a yoga mat in her New York office – just in case she decides to take a few minutes out of her day to stretch and do some breathing exercises.
Proponents of the practice of yoga tout its transformative properties, and Johnson is the first to agree.
“It is amazing how yoga has changed,” Johnson says. “I’m more aware of my emotions, which helps me take control before I become consumed by them.”
Having changed her regimen, Johnson has since created a total health and fitness program for herself and her family. She’s more con-conscious of what and when she eats – something she really hadn’t paid attention to before.
“I would be so busy that I would forget to eat,” Johnson says. “Then later, I would overeat. I have since learned I need to eat regularly to keep my energy stable and my metabolism running. I have also changed my diet to include healthier choices that will sustain me throughout my day. The whole family benefits from this change.”
Johnson laughs when she remembers her first experience with corpse pose – a resting and meditation pose at the end of a yoga class.
“I would just lie on the mat, looking around, anxious for the class to end,” Johnson says. “I learned you have to train your brain to relax. Now when I’m in that pose, I try to completely surrender. I’m not always successful. But when I am – it’s a great feeling.”
Johnson has her fair share of Emmys and accolades for her work as a journalist, but she treasures her time with her husband, Steve, daughter, Ava, and son, Burke.
“My schedule doesn’t afford me a lot of time with my family during the week,” she says. “So I tend to be a homebody on the weekends to be with my husband and children.
“We love it in Upper Saddle River,” she says. “The kids love school and we enjoy the friends we’ve made here.”
Finally, Johnson emphasizes that it really, really does take time to acclimate to yoga and that you need to persevere to reap the full benefits of a yoga lifestyle.
“Yoga has become such an important part of my life,” she says, “so much so, I actually crave that special time in the studio.”