Anitha McKendall

Anitha was born in the tropics of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She migrated to the United States when she was 5 years old and was raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. As a young girl, new to the United States, she studied lots of things. She particularly enjoyed playing the piano and competing in tennis and soccer. Her extended family was scattered all over the world, and so visiting them enabled her to see the world. She was very observant of social injustices and health inequalities noted during her international travels. This made a great impression on her. Anitha’s upbringing also exposed her to a multitude of approaches to healing (e.g. Ayurveda, Siddha, Traditional Chinese Medicine, tribal and indigenous techniques, etc.) for health, wellness and well-being. She was very drawn to a life of service and the science; she decided to pursue her studies at New York University majoring in Evolutionary Biology for her undergrad degree. She later went on to receive a Masters in Public Health from the University of Memphis. Her career focus has been rooted in Epidemiology and Maternal Child Health issues. Her passion for helping people improve their health status, outcomes and overall wellness has been a consistent theme her whole life. Little did she know the ways in which service opportunities would present itself in her near future.

Anitha’s lifelong interest in yoga is very deeply intertwined with her cultural studies, her personal interests and her general quest for learning. Her paternal grandfather was known to practice yogasana and her mom was her first yoga teacher; so lineages like Iyengar and Ashtanga were not strangers to her. It wasn’t until her twenties that she started practicing yogasanas on her own. Fast forward about 10 years of inconsistent and spotty yoga rituals, her dedicated Bikram yoga practice started in 2012 in Memphis, TN. She was hooked after her first class! She'd practiced other styles of yoga before, but this was different. It was mentally, physically and emotionally challenging; requiring all of her concentration- which allowed her to disconnect from the internal mental chatter of never-ending work/life obligations, tasks, to-do lists, goals, planning meetings, etc. It was a delicious escape for 90 minutes, every day, close to her office and her house. It was exactly what she needed and she found it right on time. Healthcare has been a demanding career and having something as sacred as a routine and constant practice has provided something stable in her hectic life.

When Anitha and her husband moved to Connecticut in 2014, she considered going to teacher training then, but things didn’t quite line up. However, things were in the works in the universe and by 2017, they were living in Chicago. An opportunity presented itself, she decided to attend Raja Yoga Academy’s teacher training in the spring of 2018 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Best decision of her life! From previous life experiences, she knew that things truly manifested when they should, not when she wanted.

Through teaching yogasana and maintaining her own practice, Anitha has learned so much about others and herself. The biggest benefit of being a teacher is that she is continuously challenged to become a better version of herself in order to serve others. Students have taught her more than she can quantify, and that is something she finds immensely fulfilling. The connections she’s made with other human beings because of yoga have been incredible. Our community is amazing and she’s grateful to be of service to Sweat Junkie in Evanston, with an outstanding group of teachers and students that she gets to learn from every day.