STRIKE A POSE

CBS 2 EVENING NEWS AN­CHOR KRIS­TINE JOHN­SON FINDS THE PATH TO HEALTH THROUGH YOGA

201 Health - - Front Page - WRIT­TEN BY AMELIA DUG­GAN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY ANNE-MARIE CARUSO

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.”

KRIS­TINE JOHN­SON

NEWS AN­CHOR

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.”

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