Ania Mechlinska's Journey to Yoga: Enjoying the Challenge

Ania loves challenges.  For her, if something comes easily it is usually not as important and she doesn’t appreciate it as much as the things she has had to work hard to accomplish.  Although she “barely survived” her first power flow class, the challenge of the class was what drew her back to the next one. Ania has always been a dedicated athlete. Growing up, she and her father religiously swam across their nearby lake each summer and ice skated across it throughout the winter months. Ania competed in a number of school races and successfully completed a number of marathons, but her “athletic body” was too weak to get in the groove of a flow yoga class…at first.

Ania grew up in multi-national family where the house was always filled with friends and family members, musicians, actors, entrepreneurs, and race car drivers. This environment shaped Ania into a free-spirited artist; at the age of 16, she left home to live in Krakow, Poland with a similar group of kindred souls. Before long, she had found another challenge:  Ania followed her friend into acting and graduated from L’art studio.

At her parents’ urging, Ania continued a “proper” education at Jagiellonia University, where she studied Art History with a concentration in Film and Theatre. While picking up some summer classes on the History of Religion, Ania met a Buddhist professor who first introduced her to Indian traditions; she joined this instructor and a few other students on an eye-opening trip to India. Ania was astonished by how different Bangalore and Delhi were from her world, and yearned to re-visit the country and learn more about this fascinating culture. The yoga aspect would factor in much later.

After returning from India, Ania applied for a student exchange program. She was feeling ready for another trip, another challenge. Following in her father’s footsteps, Ania moved to Princeton, NJ in 2002. Ania was accepted into an English Proficiency Program (TOEFL) to learn how to speak the local language. Learning English took dedication and practice and, once again, Ania was up for the challenge.

By the next year, Ania had moved to Los Angeles to continue her studies and had landed a job in a talent agency. Her long workdays and evening classes at UCLA began to wear her down.  Fortunately, Ania found a flyer for yoga classes close to her house.  Discovering the restorative and empowering nature of yoga, Ania began increasing her practice from 1 day a week to 3 days a week.  Before she knew it, she had signed up for her first yoga teacher training.

Ania knew the teacher training would be intense but rewarding; she was ready for this latest challenge. She did not plan on becoming a yoga teacher at first but the tense, stressful entertainment job was starting to affect her health and she chose instead to pursue yoga. Ania attended another teacher training where she discovered Ashtanga and became addicted to the practice: “I was going every day, sometimes twice a day. It was a breakthrough,” she says.

Ania began searching for senior Ashtanga teachers like David Swenson and Jorgen Christianssen and followed their teachings. It was bringing her back to the experience of India she remembered from her first trip.

After training with David Swenson in 2009 in primary series, Ania submitted her application to KPJAYI Institute in Mysore to study under founder and father of Ashtanga Krama Vinyasa Yoga, Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois. The confirmation letter came and just as she was getting ready for this latest challenge, she learned of Guruji’s passing. While she hasn’t re-applied to the Institute yet, Ania has set this next goal for herself when the time is right.

In 2010, Ania became very ill.  She was unable to walk for over a year and spent several months in the hospital.  During one weekend in 2011, when she was allowed to leave the hospital, she married her sweetheart in jeans and flip-flops at the courthouse in Beverly Hills. Her “honeymoon” was spent recovering in the hospital. 

The recovery process took a long time, but she eventually bounced back and renewed her yoga practice.  In order to build up her strength, Ania had to become very mindful in her movements. Ania also recognized the various psychological barriers that she would have to work through in order to get back to 100%.

Since recovering from her illness, Ania has returned to her second love – running – and has completed two marathons.  She also completed another yoga teacher training, under the mentorship of Alex Crow at YogaWorks.

As a practitioner, Ania has learned how to be more understanding and caring about her own body. She uses this same compassionate approach with her students and clients.

“We all have different stories, and our baggage comes in different shapes. As a teacher, I have to recognize that in order to provide as beneficial a service to my students as I can. I don’t adjust everyone the same way, and I don’t approach everyone with the same alignment principles. Yoga has taught me to be less competitive, more patient and open-minded. Anything you practice, you will improve in,” she shares. “Practice, practice, practice and all will come as Guruji used to always say.”

Come challenge yourself in one of Ania's classes at Goorus: She teaches Progressive Flow (Level 2+) on Wednesdays at 9am and on Saturdays at 11am.

Julie Roa

Julie Roa has been teaching Integral Yoga in varied settings for 3 years. Trained in Rishikesh, India and Yogaville, VA, she has pursued her studies of mindfulness and meditation with steady zeal. Her career is in administration of programs in higher education - and her passion is in the physical, mental and spiritual union and peace achieved through daily yogic practice. An avid traveler and joyful gardener, she looks forward to connecting to the environment and people of the Pacific Palisades community.