By Devyn Ross
Students at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor deal with the same problems college students all over the world have: stress, anxiety, pressure, difficult assignments and a lack of physical activity.
UMHB is actively working to solve one of those problems by enabling their students to get up and active by offering many Cru-Fit classes. One type of class, and arguably one of the most important, is the yoga classes, such as the Yoga Wind Down class.
In this class, students are given the chance to break away from their busy schedule to relax their body and mind and rejuvenate their spirit to continue their studies. This class typically takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:15 p.m. and is located behind the front desk of the Mayborn Campus Center in the Aerobics Room. It is led by UMHB students who have attained their certification to teach yoga to students and faculty.
UMHB’s website describes this class as a combination of flow and yoga that poses to strengthen and relax muscles to improve students’ flexibility.
The class is not for yoga experts; most of the poses are simple and can be done by newcomers to yoga.
I had the opportunity to observe the class and see just how intense it really was. There was a wide range of students in the class of 14, including both traditional and nontraditional students, both male and female.
The instructor was persistent in telling the students to be the judge of their body and to know when they need to take it slow or push a little harder.
The class heavily relies on the student to make decisions on what poses work well for their body. The instructor would often provide variations of poses varying in difficulty so the students could decide what was best for them.
The class began with seated stretches focused on the neck and spine. From there, the students were led in more stretches and some strengthening poses, such as a side plank.
The 45-minute session ended with the students lying down, meant to give them an opportunity to rest and clear their minds before returning to their crazy lives.
Other certified UMHB students lead the Cru-Fit classes and are passionate about it. A previous article in the Bells on Cru-Fit classes states that these instructors enjoy helping their fellow students discover what type of exercise best benefits their lives.
Maci Davies is an instructor for some of UMHB’s yoga classes. She explained what lead her to practice yoga and why she ultimately decided to teach it.
“Yoga helped me channel my worries, anxieties, unhealthy obsessions into being present in twisting, balancing, and bending my body with such intentionality and purpose,” Davies said.
She also believes that yoga can help students spiritually.
“Yoga is a time to be aware of the Holy Spirit through the movement of our body in conjunction to listening to the Spirit through the silence,” said Davies.
With instructors like Davies who are passionate about wellness and Christ, it is easy to see why the Cru-Fit yoga classes are always well-attended and loved by the students and faculty members of UMHB.
“[The] yoga class gave me an opportunity to step away from the stress of college life and focus on myself,” said Bethany Kirk, a sophomore psychology major who has attended the class before.
“My students have expressed many ways yoga has impacted them,” explains Kim Kirkpatrick-Thorton, one of the UMHB professors who teaches the yoga course, which is always quickly filled by eager students. “[They have] improved flexibility, increased muscular endurance, felt rejuvenation or more energy, and grown in mindfulness.”
Not only do testimonies point to the benefits of yoga, but research also suggests that there is a need for college students to consider starting yoga.
The article entitled “Psychophysiological Effects of Yoga on Stress in College Students” suggests that 40 – 50 percent of college students are physically inactive. Any form of exercise will be especially beneficial to college students. However, yoga sticks out from other exercise options because of the ways it can help students develop both physically and mentally.
The article continues by saying that yoga can be self-empowering and a great method for improving stress management and overall wellness for college students.
Whether or not yoga is the way to go, physical activity is essential for college students to live a quality life. With all the benefits of yoga, there is no reason to not take a chance and go to the class.
The Yoga Wind Down class meets every Monday and Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. and will continue to be, as one instructor said, “a judgement free zone.”