Fitness & Health

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The benefits of yoga

Katherine DeClerq | Fulcrum Staff

THE STRESS OF a student is never-ending. Between school, work, and the pressure of everyday life, an hour of physical activity can do wonders. While a power walk or a session on the elliptical may only distract you from the problems at hand, yoga—a discipline known for its spiritual and physical tranquility—can offer you a way to control your anxiety and focus on what is truly important.

Robin Russell-Hosein, a third-year U of O student and yoga instructor at the university and at the Santosha on Elgin Street, explained yoga is more of a lifestyle than a physical activity.

“It’s just remarkably beneficial,” he said of the discipline. “Especially if you keep it up. You will [start to] notice strange things that work out in your life—[for example], the more yoga I do, the more clean my room will be—and I can’t really explain the correlation, but there is some kind of tie-in there.”

According to Russell-Hosein, yoga is a great way to get involved in physical activity for the first time. A lot of instructors offer guidelines, but unlike an aerobic class, the level at which you perform the moves is optional.

If done properly, the art of yoga helps with balance and flexibility. The exercises enhance personal strength as well as conditioning. The most important part of the physical aspect of yoga is that it increases body awareness.

“When it comes down to just the physical properties, it will definitely make you more flexible, [but it will also] make you more grounded and [give you] body awareness,” said Russell-Hosein.

“[It’s about] knowing where [your hand] is in relation to the rest of your body, knowing your alignments, [your] actual posture—being able to feel it as opposed to looking at it or having someone point it out to you.”

While the physical aspect is beneficial, Russell-Hosein explains yoga offers a therapeutic mentality that has an even bigger impact on a person’s life.

“The yoga mentality is a very broad topic,” he said. “It’s about discipline. Whatever you want that discipline to be ,you’re sort of self-actualizing it in the classes.”

A yoga instructor may ask the class to set an intention or a goal to keep in mind throughout the class—anything from a better grade to getting a job—and to focus on it during the exercises. It balances out the mentality so that as you continue to do yoga, you are getting better at that intention without worrying about it.

“You have someone just leading you through [the exercises] and it lets you get to that Eureka syndrome where you are not thinking about that problem for an hour or for 45 minutes,” explained Russell-Hosein. “And all of a sudden, after the class when you go back to whatever you were freaking out about, you sometimes—not all the time—have an answer there.”

Following the discipline of yoga will completely  change your diet, physicality, and lifestyle for the better, ensuring less stress and a more energetic mind.