Health & nutrition insights.

Yoga For Health: Ft. Co-Owners of Sumits Hot Yoga in Springfield, MO

Yoga: A centuries-old fitness practice. When most people think of yoga, they might think of complicated hand-balancing balancing poses, weird hippy people with long beards and flowy pants, and meditation in a criss-cross position while saying, “Oohhhhmmmm.” But these are just a few of the many common misconceptions about yoga. So what is yoga really about? And how can it improve our health and well-being?

The dietitians discuss this with co-owners of Sumits Hot Yoga Springfield, Nikki Adkins and Stephanie Lewis on the Practical Nutrition Podcast episode titled Should You Try Yoga? 

Linked here:


What is Yoga? 


Yoga is a discipline that includes body poses called “asanas”, breath control, and simple meditation. It originated in India between the fifth and third centuries (wow, now that’s ancient). The term “yoga” comes from the ancient Sanskrit word for “yoke” or “union” which imparts the intention of control, and finding stillness in one’s mind in order to be present in one’s consciousness. At its core, and as described in the ancient text, the Yoga Sutra,  it is the discipline of abstinence from worldly indulgences. But over time, it has developed into a modernized version which focuses mostly on the stretching and strengthening of the body and mind through poses and breathing exercises. This is the type of yoga that we are discussing in this blog.


What are the Health Benefits of Yoga?


The benefits are plentiful. For the most benefits, it is recommended by experts to practice at least three times a week. However, one session would definitely be better than nothing!

  • increased flexibility
  • increased muscle strength and tone
  • improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • maintaining a balanced metabolism
  • weight management
  • cardio and circulatory health
  • improved athletic performance
  • protection from injury

What Should You Expect for Your First Class?

First and foremost, go in with an open mind! It’s normal to be nervous when beginning any new skill or class (I was sooo nervous for my first class!). You’ll need to bring a yoga mat, water bottle, sweat towel, and if it’s hot yoga- a yoga mat towel that covers the entire mat to keep you from slipping in your sweat. Classes usually start with breathing exercises- simply inhaling and exhaling to calm the mind and heart rate. The goal is to be as present as possible when you step onto your mat. Then you will move into some gentle stretching, followed by the main flow (which typically includes spine strengthening, balance, core, and flexibility movements), and ends with more gentle stretching and breathing exercises. Then comes the BEST part- the final savasana, or “corpse pose,” where you lay flat on the ground, eyes closed, with palms up while ice-cold, lavender scented towels are provided to place over your face and neck to round out the practice with calm and clarity. You have the option to lay there for up to 20 mins to relax before leaving the studio. 

What is Offered at Sumits?

Sumits offers several types of hot-room classes in a calm, inclusive environment. Steph and Nikki tell us that many people just come to class for a “hot nap.” Each pose called out by the instructor is just a suggestion- you can go at your own pace, or do your own thing entirely. If you want to lay on the ground and sleep for the whole class, that is TOTALLY acceptable. They want students to do whatever feels comfortable for their body at that moment. Here are the classes that Sumits offers:

  • Sumits Yoga: 80 minutes- same full-body flow each time
  • Hour Flow: 60 minutes- different flows each class 
  • Gentle Flow: 50 minutes- breathing and relaxation
  • Sculpt: 60 minutes- plyometrics, cardio, yoga, and light weight lifting to upbeat music

You can sign up for classes and/or memberships on their website linked here:

Sumits also has a small boutique where you can browse a selection of yoga clothes (like really cute clothes of  popular brands), mats, towels, and accessories. You always have the option to rent yoga mats and towels from the front desk if you forget yours at home!

How Can You Advance or Deepen Your Yoga Practice?

If you feel like you’ve been stuck at the same level for a while, it might be time to look into ways to deepen your yoga practice- in order to get more out of it. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Set a clear intention: What do you want to accomplish in class today? Breath? Flexibility? Calm? Balance? Rest? Mental clarity? Presence? Decide your intention and try to incorporate it into the duration of your practice. 
  2. Explore the different styles of yoga: There’s Yin Yoga, Pranayama, Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Jivamukti, Restorative, Vinyasa, and many more. 
  3. Learn about the 8 limbs of yoga. Yoga is so much more than the poses or “asanas.” It includes 7 other limbs, with the goal to follow an enlightening path of growth. You can practice yoga without ever getting into a yoga pose. Here are the 8 Limbs:: 
    1. Yamas (external disciplines)
    2. Niyamas (internal disciplines)
    3. Asana (physical postures)
    4. Pranayama (breath control or techniques)
    5. Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
    6. Dharana (focus, concentration)
    7. Dhyana (meditation)
    8. Samadhi (union, integration, bliss)
  4. Find teachers you connect with. Take the time to look around for a teacher you love, whether you like to practice in a studio or online. Make a list of your favorite teachers (hopefully in a variety of styles) and commit to periodically taking their classes. When you find someone you truly connect with, your practice will grow, and your chances of sticking with it will improve!
  5. Commit to your practice. Yoga has a cumulative benefit effect, meaning that 4-5 20 minute sessions per week is more beneficial than 1 90 minute session. To really commit to your practice, it’s key to intentionally commit to a routine that you’re able to stick to as much as possible.
  6. Create a Sacred Yoga Space. It’s important to set up a space that is yours and designated for your yoga practice. Try to be practical. If you can renovate, go for it. But remember that you don’t need a big, fancy space. Your yoga space can be in the balcony, right next to your bed, or in the corner of your living room. Whatever space you choose, take time to declutter and make it special in your own way. You may want to even create an altar with candles, crystals or flowers. Maybe even put some plants around your mat.

Whether you are a brand new yogi, or have been practicing for years, it’s important to understand that yoga is a practice, not for perfection. Our abilities, mobility, balance, breath, motivation, and strength will change day to day. What felt good yesterday might not feel good today, and that’s okay! Be present in your body and mind each time you step on your mat. Evaluate what you need during that session, and what you don’t need. Aim to leave your mat feeling better than when you got there, not comparing yourself to your practice at any other time/day/stage of life vs. now; and definitely not comparing to the practices of others. Here are some lasting quotes from the yoga sutra that you can meditate on during your practice:

  1. Practice means choosing, applying the effort, and doing those actions that bring a stable and tranquil state.
  2. When this practice is done for a long time, and with sincere devotion, then the practice becomes a firmly rooted, stable, and solid foundation.
  3. The mind is also calmed by regulating the breath, particularly attending to the exhalation and the natural stilling of breath that comes from such practice.
  4. Yoga is the ending of disturbances of the mind
  5. There are five functions or activities of the mind, which can either cause us problems or not. They are: correct perception, misunderstanding, imagination, deep sleep, and memory.
  6. In order to achieve a state of yoga, one must develop both practice and detachment.
  7. Then, the inner consciousness is revealed, we come to know the true Self, and our obstacles are reduced.
  8. Although individuals perceive the same objects, these objects are perceived in different ways, because those minds are each unique and beautifully diverse.
  9. From contentment, incomparable happiness is obtained.
  10. With mastery over the senses, thoughts, and actions comes quickness of mind and perception.