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Yoga: the stress reliever

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Yoga: The stress reliever

Posted May 9, 2008

Jennifer Kitzmann
Life Editor

My first yoga experience was at my local Bally’s Total Fitness gym. I know that does not seem very “yogi-like,” but it was an experience that I will never forget.
While I was walking through the gym, I was in search of something else to inspire my work out regime. I knew I was there to work out but little did I know that I was in for something better. I read on the schedule “Yoga.”

I knew what it was but I had always pictured hippies or people posing like trees or something. It was only because I did not fully understand what it really was and never cared to.

Before I walked in, I noticed the teacher was an older man wearing a black beanie in plain clothing. We made eye contact and he looked at me inquiring about the class. I tried not to look back at him, but for some reason, I couldn’t help but look back. Before I knew it I was sitting on a yoga mat between two women.

I could not help but look at the woman next to me wearing a bright pink T-shirt that said “Squeeze Me I Am Hot.” On the other side of me the woman was wearing two different colored leg warmers. This was definitely not the sort of people I thought took yoga. Even though, I was wearing a ridiculous Cure shirt with rips and tears in it. I thought to myself that I was as un -yogi-like as everyone else.

The instructor entered the room; he dimmed the lights and started to instruct us with a meditation pose. The room became very silent and for one of the first times in my life, I really understood how important it was to be peaceful and aware.

Among all of the loud noise outside, the slamming of weights, and chaos outside, I understood what it was all about. Exercise was no longer running endless hours on the treadmill or doing 250 crunches a day, it was something larger than that. Yoga was about the mind. Yoga was about inner strength. Yoga was opening up my heart, body and soul.

The class was no longer about the woman’s bright T-shirt next to me or the people looking in the window, wondering what the heck we were doing in a handstand position with our eyes shut. It was no longer where we were or who was watching us. Yoga was about being in the moment.

Stepping onto the mat that day was an experience I will never forget.

Yoga is an ancient Indian philosophy that enhances personal growth and well-being. Although a systemic philosophical approach, yoga is not a religion, but is complementary with most spiritual paths. The physical aspect of yoga use poses and focused breathing, requiring concentration
and discipline.

Anyone, regardless of body type, age, experience or physical abilities can practice yoga.

Each class has something to offer whether focused more on strength, stress relief or just mindfulness and meditation.

For example, I was in an accident the other day on the Los Angeles freeway moving from one interchange to another and the car in front of me just stopped. I had no choice but to hit the car in front of me. This is when I thanked my yoga practice.

Yoga helps you become more adaptable to life situations, like standing in a yoga pose for a long period of time in deep concentration. In yoga practice, you will try a pose on one foot and you may experience many twists and turns, as in life. If you fall, it would be okay because you are always going to have the chance to get up and try it again.

So the next time you are tempted to do something out of the ordinary, it may be good for you. You never know what life’s journey has in store for you. It may not only challenge you physically but it may strengthen your mind spiritually.

Jennifer Kitzmann, a senior journalism major, is LV Life editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at jkitzmann@ulv.edu