MILTON — After years of battling bipolar disorder, a yoga instructor now finds herself healthier and ready to help others improve their well-being.
Krista Peterson recently started leading yoga classes at the YMCA of Milton and the YMCA of Lewisburg at the Miller Center.
A 2008 graduate of Warrior Run High School, Peterson moved to New York after earning a degree in English Literature and Drama.
“New York was tough,” Peterson said. “I really started to struggle with my sanity.”
After living in New York for a few years, Peterson moved to Charleston, SC
“After that, I started doing yoga,” she said. “I’ve grown so much and got better… (Now) I want to help people who are struggling.”
After initially practicing yoga through instructions she found on YouTube, Peterson began taking classes in 2016 while living in South Carolina.
In 2019, she began taking classes — through Holy Cow Yoga Center in South Carolina — to become an instructor.
Peterson describes yoga as an exercise that combines movement with breathing.
Although she was initially hesitant to take in-person classes, she quickly saw the value of classes as her mental health began to improve.
“I was scared to go into the studio,” Peterson said. “There, you have teachers to support you. It really benefited me to be in this context.
Her mental health has steadily improved since she immersed herself in yoga.
“The lessons you learn, not just doing the (yoga) poses, are amazing,” Peterson said. “As I got more and more interested in yoga, I thought ‘wow, this is a way for me to help people who feel the same as me’.”
The program she enrolled in to become a yoga teacher was intensive and included 200 hours of teaching.
“We were (in class) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. on weekdays,” she said.
At first, Peterson found the classes overwhelming. She soon realized that she was doing the right thing by taking the courses to become an instructor.
“When I started, I cried,” she said. “It was definitely worth it.”
She credits her instructors, especially Trace Sahaja Bonner, for mentoring her throughout the program.
Peterson is in her second week of yoga classes at the Milton YMCA. His classes are offered at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. They are available to YMCA members and non-members who purchase a guest pass.
“I try to kind of do a lesson, build confidence…and just have fun,” she said of her classes. “My intention with the class is to show people that they have so much power within themselves.”
Peterson has yet to speak in his classes about his struggles with bipolar disorder. However, she wants people to understand that she has been able to improve her mental health significantly, especially since she started practicing yoga.
“It’s something that never goes away,” said Peterson, of bipolar disorder. “There are some things you can do to help yourself and be well.
“I’m in a better place now than I have been for years and years,” she continued. “I attribute that to a bunch of things, therapy and yoga.”
Peterson said it’s important to eat healthy foods and exercise. She also explained the crucial role that yoga now plays in her life.
“It became my life, my crutch,” she said of yoga. “I know that if something bad happens I have ways to cope, focus and breathe.
“It helps you examine yourself and look within, builds confidence and hope.”