When Janie Helt shows up with her yellow yoga mat, she doesn’t just work on flexibility and balance. She spends the hourlong sessions working on self-care.

With about 17 years of yoga practice under her belt, the Omaha woman has learned to take what she experiences in the studio and apply it to her daily life.

Helt, 43, also takes the practice to work. She teaches calming poses to her fourth-grade class at Castelar Elementary School, especially before tests.

Q: When did you start working out and why?

A: I started practicing yoga before my children were born, at least 16 or 17 years ago. I think of yoga more as working in than working out. Yoga calls to me more than the gym. It doesn’t just teach you how to have a strong body — it teaches you how to be strong internally.

Q: Describe your workouts. How many days per week do you exercise?

A: I do vinyasa, restorative and slow flow classes. Usually we start in a centering-type pose or posture. If it’s a more difficult pose, the instructor leads you through it. I come two to four times a week.

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?

A: Being able to weave everything I learn in yoga into everyday life. Being more earth-friendly, and being mindful about what I eat, say and do.

Q: What has been the toughest hurdle and how did you overcome it?

A: I think when you start any type of practice, you can be self-conscious about your body. Yoga helped me. I’ve been able to do a lot more than I thought I could.

Q: What helps you stay on track?

A: The community. Sometimes you might feel alone, but we all have this in common. It’s broadened my network in Omaha. Even if you don’t feel good, you walk into yoga, and you feel better.

Q: What do you do when you aren’t in the gym?

A: I have my own landscaping business, and I’ve hired my kids. We do that in the summer. I hike a lot and go biking. I’m an artist. I paint and make jewelry.

Q: What is the piece of equipment, supplement, clothing, etc. that you can’t live without?

A: You don’t need anything in yoga. The best sports are the ones you can do barefoot.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their fitness journey?

A: Just stay strong. You can do more than you ever thought you could if you’re willing to be open.

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