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Celebrating the benefits of yoga during national yoga month


Saba helping a student at her power yoga class Thursday, Sept. 18 at The Student Recreation Center. Photo credit: Brianna Benitez

To pay respect to the national observance of health and wellness, the month of September is dedicated to the benefits of yoga. Individuals can expect to experience “beyond the mat” satisfaction by engaging in yoga practices.

Physical benefits

Yoga is a practice that focuses heavily on building strength and awareness. According to the American Osteopathic Association, the relaxation techniques in yoga aid by lessening chronic pain like arthritis and headaches. Engaging in yoga practices can help increase flexibility, strength and athletic performance.
Josephine Wielinski, recreation management graduate student, is the fitness and wellness graduate assistant at The Student Recreation Center. Wielinski primarily focuses on daily operations and communications with the student staff at The Rec.
Wielknski said the center offers four different yoga classes: rise and shine, power, athletic and general.
Rise and shine yoga focuses on stretching and preparing the body for the day. Power yoga is a high-intensity workout aimed at increasing heart rate and building strength. Athletic yoga is geared toward athletes and individuals who need extra time to stretch or recover from their workouts. Regular yoga is a slower-paced class that is centered on strength-building and stretching.
Wielknski said each yoga class is multi-leveled, meaning anyone with or without yoga experience can participate.
“Whether you’ve been practicing for years or it’s your first time, you can come in and complete the class,” Wielknski said.

Mental benefits

Participating in yoga practices can be a coping mechanism for managing stress. Side effects of stress can include anxiety and struggling to sleep and focus. Yoga practices often include meditation and breathing exercises to help improve mental wellbeing.
Meditation is a habitual process that trains the mind to focus and redirect thoughts. Engaging in meditation and breathing practices can increase stress resilience, positive emotions and learning capacity.
Jenna Clark, manager and alignment instructor at Easy Tiger Yoga in San Marcos, said yoga is a great way for college students to alleviate stress and tension. She said for students to perform and excel, they must make an effort to rejuvenate their state of mind.
“If our cup isn’t full and we’re constantly giving to ourselves from our unfilled cup, then we’re never going to be able to truly provide for ourselves,” Clark said.
Clark said those who are interested in practicing yoga should not be intimated by the practice, nor should they aim at being good off the bat. Yoga is a process that gradually improves one’s strength and flexibility over time.
Clark encourages those interested in yoga to do what they can and allow themselves to fully engage with the practice.
“Love yourself through every part of the journey,” Clark said. “If you give yourself to the practice, it will give even more back to you.”

Spiritual benefits

During the practice of yoga, individuals can undergo an internal transformation that allows them to focus their energy on state of mind and well-being. Individuals can set intentions and connect with a higher power during their yoga practice.
Estelle Saba, management senior, teaches power and general yoga classes at The Rec. She has been practicing yoga for three consecutive years and was interested in becoming an instructor to share the benefits of the practice with others.
“For me, yoga is the only thing that ignites the spirit, body and mind in one mindful practice,” Saba said.
Saba said her time in the studio serves as an opportunity to fully dedicate time to herself and her practice.
Saba leads power yoga Mondays from 5:45-6:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from 6:15-7 p.m. She leads general yoga Tuesdays from 7-8 p.m.

Social benefits

Participating in yoga classes can allow individuals to connect with others who share similar interests. Yoga is an intimate workout that focuses on one’s mental state and emotions. During a yoga class, mental barriers come down and individuals are able to bond on a deeper level.
Sunshine Torres, health and wellness junior, is an athletic and general yoga instructor at The Rec. Torres has been practicing yoga since she was a toddler and began developing her own practice at 14 years old.
Torres said each yoga class focuses on breathing and meditation. Students who take a class can expect to engage in active warm-up exercises, a series of posture practices and balance or coordination movements.
Torres leads rise and shine yoga Mondays from 7-8 a.m., athletic yoga Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-8 a.m. and general yoga Thursdays from 7-8 p.m.
Torres said being an instructor has provided her the opportunity to connect with students by participating in what she loves.
“If it wasn’t for the people the practice has brought into my life, I don’t know if being an instructor would feel the same,” Torres said. “I’m definitely passionate about the people and it’s so much better being able to share this practice with them.”
For more information on yoga and class schedules, visit The Student Recreation Center website. To stay up-to-date on upcoming fitness and wellness events, follow The Rec on social media @txstrec on Instagram and Twitter.

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