By Carina Sorrentino
In recent years, the Alumni Gym at Union has offered a variety of classes for students to take throughout the term.
These may range from spinning classes to aerobics. However, one activity seems to be growing substantially in popularity: yoga.
According to The Huffington Post, the number of Americans doing yoga has increased by 30 percent in the past four years alone, thus prompting the question: Why is this practice so appealing?
While the deep history of yoga as a practice extends back many centuries, the modern applications are seen as very positive. Yoga is rooted in Eastern practices of spirituality and discipline.
In any high-stress environment, having the ability to find balance and peace is a valuable skill.
Yoga fosters just that kind of relief, which can be particularly helpful for any student who is studying for big exams, searching for a job, balancing friendships and all the while trying to have fun.
To compensate for students’ growing interest in yoga, Union is now offering three different nine-week classes, all of which can be attended twice a week in Alumni Gym.
Two are taught by instructors whom the school brings in from off campus, and the third is taught by a Union student.
For those who are beginners, the Expansive Yoga class moves at a slower pace and focuses on creating an environment of joy. This class has a focus on fine-tuning posture and poses for maximum benefits.
If you are searching for more of an inward exploration, Yoga Flow begins with mediation at each class.
The class moves through yoga’s fluidity and teaches students about the importance of breath, as well as developing the proper “movement of the spine, limbs and joints.”
For a higher energy class, Power Yoga builds physical and mental strength through Vinyasa poses.
Teacher of Power Yoga and Union student Annie Nelson ’15 commented, “I have been involved with the yoga world my whole life starting in first grade, but I just started teaching last summer. Doing yoga has helped me learn how to control my energy and mood and choose to be calm during stressful situations, which are abundant in college.”
While all of the classes have their own stylistic differences, all of them strive for similar results. “Mental calmness,” “relaxation” and “progression” are the classes’ core goals.
Having multiple classes at multiple times means that there are opportunities for everyone.
If you do not want to be surrounded by many people, you can attend a morning class, which is typically sparser.
However, if you are looking for a more friend-based environment, you can try an afternoon class, which is often filled to capacity.
To those who practice regularly, the health benefits are undeniable.
Aubri Oliphant ’15 stated, “After going for my first time sophomore year during a period of extreme stress, I thought yoga would be a good way for me to relax.”
She continued, “I went to the Hot Yoga Spot in Albany and after that I signed up for weekly classes, and that summer I was going six out of seven days a week. Since then, I haven’t gone a week without it.”
Almost anyone at Union can tell you that they are involved in multiple clubs, organizations and rigorous classes.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to do yoga right here on campus can improve many facets of life.
While the physical benefits may seem obvious, such as increased flexibility and strength, there are also those which many may not know.
Yoga is a great way to release toxins after a long weekend. Also, it has many positive effects on the brain, and can improve one’s memory.
Oliphant reiterates that yoga has changed her life. “I was put so in tune with my body. I think it’s amazing that our school is offering more chances for students to take advantage of learning the practice, and I highly recommend it to anyone,” she said.
“You can become so in tune with yourself in a way that you never imagined,”she continued.
While yoga has become a multi-billion dollar a year industry, Union offers nine-week courses for only $60 a term, which is a bargain compared to most other locations.
Nelson remarked, “Teaching is the best! I would not be as involved in yoga if I wasn’t a teacher.”
“I prefer to teach classes at Alumni Gym compared to studios because the crowd I am teaching to are people who are more humble beginners. Teaching is so fun and rewarding, because all I’m doing is teaching people how to let go of thoughts and energy by simply focusing on breathing,” Nelson continued.
Nelson added, “Many people can translate this practice to their everyday life and learn to control their energy and be overall more relaxed and happy.”
To any student who is looking for a way to blow off some steam and find a few hours of peace each week through all of the stressors that college can hold, your opportunity has arrived.
Enroll now in one of the yoga programs that Union is offering to make your term a holistically positive experience.