Amanda Bazil/ Staff Writer
Can you do yoga?
Attempting to stretch in ways you forgot the human body was capable of seems like something to leave up to the professionals, but on the contrary, it’s exactly what your body needs and could change your life this spring break.
Coming from the Sanskrit word yui, which means “to yoke” or “to join,” yoga is the union of the body and mind, and ultimately, with the self and the universe. It’s also one hell of a workout.
As a 4,000-year-old discipline that originated in ancient India, yoga uses asanas, or physical postures.
The result of maintaining a consistent yoga practice helps in toning muscles, developing core strength, as well as overall strength and flexibility.
“Yoga is definitely a workout,” says Nerissa Rae S. Mape, a senior majoring Asian studies who is currently taking REL 3399: The Art of Yoga Meditation at MMC.
The class focuses on yoga asanas (postures), mantras (sacred chants), meditation techniques, pranayama (breath control) and philosophical and religious scriptures, and gives students the opportunity to study theory and actually do yoga.
“I find myself having to catch my breath afterwards,” Mape said. “I think it’s because we’re putting our bodies in positions that they’ve never been in before. It’s a workout for the mind and the body.”
Yoga is all about slowing things down. The goal is to connect your breath with each movement. The breathing exercises, or pranayama, combined with meditation, will allow you to cultivate a greater sense of awareness not only of the self, but your place in the world and beyond it.
It’s a workout that helps you cultivate a great sense of awareness by helping you to find stillness in a world of chaos.
And if anyone needs help finding stillness, it’s definitely a college student. In finding that inner calm, you’re more able to pinpoint current stressors and prevent new ones. This then creates space for things to grow, like spiritual enlightenment and an understanding of who you are.
In turn, a union between the body, mind and soul converge to create better balance in your life.
Just be mindful that there’s so much more to this ancient practice than stretching.
“Yoga encompasses other paths,” said Bonnie Melita Quiceno, an FIU yoga teacher who’s been doing yoga for 20 years.
“There is the yoga of selfless doing, the yoga of chanting, the yoga of meditation, etc.” Quiceno said. “All of the paths lead to Samadhi, or union with the divine. The yoga that we do in the West prepares the body to sit and be still, listen, meditate, and find Samadhi.”
Yoga ranges in various styles, so if you’re a beginner, then Hatha yoga, which is the most basic form taught in the U.S., would be right for you because it introduces various yoga poses. Then you can move onto things like Vinyasa yoga, a more fluid, movement-intensive practice, or Restorative yoga, a softer kind of yoga that helps to relax and soothe frayed nerves.
If you’re unable to find a yoga class this break, Bonnie highly recommends using your available resources.
“There are books with instructions as well as a lot to choose from online. There are paid classes on YouTube and paid classes that come in a myriad of forms. Just do your homework and choose wisely.”
She also cautions students, particularly novices to yoga, to practice with being mindful of yourself at all times.
“Always listen to your inner wisdom. Stop when you know you’ve gone far enough. Never look at someone else — picture, video, or person, and try to look exactly like they do in the posture. Find where the posture is in your body. You don’t look like anyone else when you aren’t practicing yoga, so why would you look like them when you are practicing yoga?”
So for spring break, grab a yoga mat, a water bottle and a yoga block if you need it. Now bring your attention to your mat. Sit comfortably in seated pose. Find your breath, begin, and enjoy.
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