By: Kaitlyn Cardona
As a lazy freshman who dreaded running and weight-lifting, I began looking for a suitable form of exercise. That’s how I came across the REC center’s yoga classes. The first class I attended was different from anything I had ever tried and quite challenging, but I was surprised to find out how relaxed I felt afterwards. Physically, I was sweaty and sore. But mentally, I felt calm, quiet, and relaxed, even though I was dealing with massive amounts of stress—but what college student isn’t dealing with stress? Not hooked right away, it took me a few classes to understand what yoga could do for me. Now, two and a half years later, I practice every chance I can. When I step on my mat, I instantly feel calm and relaxed (even if I have a 75 minute sweaty yoga class ahead of me). Throughout my practice I have gained the knowledge to use yoga as a wonderful stress reliever and a healthy lifestyle motivator.
A common misperception of yoga is that it requires immense amounts of flexibility and does little more for your body than simple stretching. Really, yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual exercise that becomes a way of life. “Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self”- The Bhagavad Gita. Practicing yoga has helped me become mindful of my body, thoughts, and actions (on and off the mat). It has also helped me to become mindful and aware of what I am eating. Along with the listed positives, practicing yoga has improved my breathing significantly—I have been suffering from asthma since I was two. It also improved my posture, wellbeing, and has become my coping mechanism for stress.
The grace of yoga comes from the unison of breath and movement, leading to an increase in mindfulness, a quiet mind, and an awakening in the unused areas of my body. I love the paradox yoga creates: feeling grounded while simultaneously lifted, pushing forward as I am pulling back. I like to apply this metaphor to my yogini (a female yoga practitioner) style of life as well. In yogi time two years is just the beginning. I still have a long journey ahead of me and much more to learn about yoga. But in this short amount of time, yoga has helped shape who I am and who I want to be. It challenges and changes me. My strength and flexibility increase day-to-day. Each time I step on the mat, I am a little bit stronger so I push myself that much further.
Yoga can be practiced whenever you have time; it can be practiced at home, at a studio, in the Rec center, outside, or even in a car. Yoga has awakened me. “Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better you practice, the brighter the flame.” – B.K.S. Lyengar.