Yoga, A Growing Subculture

Kaitlyn Szilagyi, Featured Reporter

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“This practice will increase strength and stamina…” This description, copied from Pace’s athletic website, might lead one to assume the site is advertising kick-boxing courses or perhaps even a body-sculpting seminar offered in the aerobics room.

However, read a bit further, “…improve flexibility and detoxify the body and mind,” and one will realize it is actually an advertisement for Pace’s Yoga II: Vigorous Vinyasa class offered Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., one of three yoga classes being offered in Goldstein Fitness Center this semester.

The other two classes being offered include a basics class open to students with any or no range of yoga experience called Hatha Yoga and a Yoga I: Breath Easy for “students who are new to yoga or who prefer a gentle soothing practice.”

Though those reading this article might now be prepared to scoff at the notion that yoga could possibly be a real workout, one would be surprised at the calming and strengthening influence it’s already having on Pace students, among other people all around the world.

Yoga is rapidly becoming a growing industry in the United States. According to the Yoga Journal website, the magazine had a total circulation of 55 thousand readers in 1990. Today, the paid circulation includes 360 thousand with a total readership of 1.5 million people.

In the Fitness Magazine article “Yoga Your Own Way,” writer Marianne Magno comments about the increase of people partaking in classes. “What started as a small yoga class of 10-15 students in Bryant Park in 2005 grew to a class of more than 200 people three years later.”

Even here at Pace, the number of yoga classes offered has increased since two semesters ago.

Sophomore psychology major Emily Blakley began taking Yoga I: Breathe Easy in Goldstein three weeks ago and seems intent on keeping this class in her weekly routine.

“The instructor is very focused on the breathing and breathing at your own pace. She explains the Sanskrit and the English meanings and names of poses.” Blakley continued, “It’s very relaxing; I feel so much calmer afterwards, and stronger, too.”

Yoga I: Breathe Easy usually begins with deep breathing and stretching to warm up, then a series of poses, and class always end with deep relaxation. Though yoga emphasizes centering one’s self through deep breathing, meditation, and intense focus in each pose, yoga does not have to be, nor is it generally, a solitary form of exercise. People often attend classes together. In fact, Emily Blakley usually goes to class with at least one friend.

Junior Dana Weingardner has attended the same class the past three weeks and seems equally enthusiastic about it. “I do feel like it’s beneficial to my balance, and my flexibility is improving,” she reflects.

Yoga is a remarkably beneficial form of exercise. Magno’s article describes yoga’s effects perfectly: “When you practice yoga even once, you can immediately see its benefits: your posture is better, you feel more flexible, and your body becomes more toned.”

Though certain forms of yoga can be more strenuous than others, yoga is not meant to be a painful or uncomfortable exercise. It is meant to strengthen all the muscles in the body as well as ease the mind. When living on a college campus where life is hectic and there are many requirements to satisfy for classes, extracurricular activities, and work each day, such a relaxing exercise routine appears to be an opportune method of releasing the tension and stress that comes with being a full-time college student.

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