Finding balance off the mat

Carly Andros, Staff Writer

I have been teaching yoga as a certified instructor for three years and practicing for about eight years. Both teaching and practicing the exercise have helped build my tolerance for the hectic lifestyle a college student lives.

Before my yoga journey began in high school, I personally struggled on both a physical and spiritual level. Physically, I have a short attention span and I never enjoyed the P90X programs we participated in during gym class. I assumed physical exercise was not for me.

I was first introduced to yoga during my sophomore year of high school. It was offered for a week in the body sculpt program our gym class required. I fell in love with the exploration of mindfulness and the importance of breathing in yoga. The first yoga practice I experienced helped me cope with my anxiety.

I brought my practice outside of the high school gym and into a public studio space, which was the first step toward my pathway to peace. Through practicing at many different studios, I noticed my focus and information retention flourished as I was able to use the breathing tools I carried off of the mat and into the classroom.

I wanted yoga to be more than a practice. After I discovered I could reap the essence of mind, body and soul, I wanted to share the feeling I got when I practiced with the world. After some research on teacher training programs, I decided to start my journey as a yoga practitioner at a small studio in Chicago. There, I learned so much about the scientific benefits for both the anatomy and psyche. I did karma yoga for experience where I would teach for free at facilities such as drug rehabilitation centers where yoga is normally inaccessible, but most needed. Those experiences were more rewarding than any tangible payment.

At FMU, I have taught two free classes on campus to students and teachers through the studio I currently work at, Flow Town Yoga. Since advertisement was published one week before the class, there was a stronger attendance during the weekend class than earlier in the week.

Science Daily conducted a study measuring the effects of yoga by sending a group of people to a meditation yoga retreat. They took measurements during a three-month timespan as they practiced physical poses, controlled breathing practices and seated meditations. The researchers took several psychometric measures such as mindfulness, absorption, depression and anxiety. They also investigated the relationship between psychological improvements and biological changes. The results of the study showed a decrease in both anxiety and depression, as well as an increase in mindfulness.

I would be interested in offering a class to help students and professors enter a physical and spiritual journey through yoga. I think the benefits of practicing yoga are the antidote to a college student’s lifestyle. This could also be a way for students to hang out in a fun way while expanding their horizons on mental and physical health.