If you can breathe, you can do yoga
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/19/2012 -- For centuries yoga has offered self-enlightenment and health to students who practice it.
“Yoga approaches the body in many different ways,” said Samantha Gallo, a Hatha yoga instructor at Cal State Fullerton. “In the physical body, we become that much more flexible.”
Gallo teaches beginner and intermediate Hatha yoga courses at the university.
“Hatha Yoga is a practice that balances out the duality in our systems,” Gallo said. “We do it through both a physical or forceful way where we’re cleansing the body with postures or with breath, or we can also relax the body with postures or breath.”
“We also have the ability to just energize ourselves or to relax our minds,” said Gallo. “Sometimes we have our bodies that are fatigued from a long day of work and we do certain poses that can help to basically make you that much stronger or make you that much more alert.”
Yoga helps sharpen concentration as well, thereby benefiting students, according to Gallo. “They [students] would be able to have that much more of a focused attention on what they’re doing. Their bodies would feel that much better in terms of being able to sit in a chair all day.”
An extended period of being hunched over a computer can be hard on students’ bodies, said Gallo. “(Yoga) can definitely help them with their school studies, that they don’t feel like that they’re basically hunched and crouched all the time.”
Yoga is also a key to stress management, something students attempting to balance academics with other responsibilities, can use, noted Gallo. “It (yoga) also teaches them how to manage their stress that much better. Maybe it’s through more mindful discipline, about studying and making sure that they do things with a certain amount of time so that they don’t procrastinate.”
Kinesiology major Saldiam Barillas, 22, has been practicing yoga for many years. Although he originally began for the physical benefits, he noted he has also learned to appreciate the mental benefits.
“Every single aspect of yoga for me has already deepened my emotional, spiritual and mental ties together,” Barillas said. “To me it’s still growing, it’s still getting better, so I make it an effort to at least practice four times a week.”
Students new to yoga are seeing benefits two weeks into the course.
“I played sports growing up, so I never really achieved the flexibility I always wanted, and I was told that this (yoga) is where I could find it,” said Humberto Gutierrez, 20, who is also kinesiology major. “Now that I’m here, I do see the benefits.”
Still other students are returning to yoga after taking long breaks from the practice. “I took (yoga) about almost ten years ago, and I really enjoyed the flexibility, the strength and the fitness it gave me when I first started working out,” said Meagan Senkbeil, 31, a communication disorder major. The increase in oxygen helps to calm her, she added.
That does not surprise Patrick Freeman, another CSUF Hatha yoga instructor. “Yoga is a holistic practice,” he said. “It also has benefits on the emotions and the mind. Students who’ve had trouble sleeping, have been able to sleep better, anxiety has been lessened. Some students are able to get off medication that they’ve been on prescribed by their doctors for anxiety because they’ve learned how to handle that through doing yoga and calm their anxiety in that way.
Meditation is helping focus the mind and relieve stress and also connect you with a higher sense of self.”
Breathing is an important component of the practice, said Freeman. Belly breathing, as yogis refer to it, relieves stress and helps purge negative emotions. “This is such a fast-paced society, students are under such pressures, many of them work as well as go to school, they’re under a heavy academic load, there’s financial pressures in our society today,” he said. “The yoga, especially the meditation part, can help balance that out.”
Freeman urges all students to give yoga a try, saying that those who do will see results. “Everyone can do yoga,” he said. “Don’t feel that you have to be real flexible to do yoga, or you have to have this ideal body type. If you can breathe, you can do yoga. And you will get some benefits out of it.”
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