One of the many perks of attending Nazareth is that they provide a lot of opportunities to stay active and be healthy on campus. Some of these include Zumba, PLYOS, Butts and Guts, open gym, unlimited pool access, indoor wall ball courts, the fitness center, and last but CERTAINLY not least, yoga.
Naz offers yoga 4 times a week: 2 Night Light yogas, which take place in the evening in the Linehan Chapel, as well as 2 mid-day yogas that take place in the Schults fitness center. These yoga classes are for one hour, and they are free to any students, faculty, or alumni. This yoga class is by far my favorite, and most well spent, one hour of my whole week. Why?
1. Yoga is actually exercise.
This might seem like a pretty obvious statement, but yoga is so different from other forms of exercise. I HATE running more than anything in the world, so the idea of going for a run or running on a treadmill seems awful. Yoga gives me a reason to not have to go running, but still get a solid work out. Yoga is designed to be slower paced, but also extremely challenging. You work and stretch almost every part of your body in just one hour.
2. You forget about life stresses.
This is actually completely true. If someone had said to me, before coming to Naz, "Yoga will help you forget about all the stressful things going on in your life", I wouldn't believe them for a second. But turns out, they would be right.
You're so focused on remembering to breathe, and trying not to fall down while doing some of the more challenging poses that you literally forget everything else. There have been countless times that the yoga instructor would say 'focus on your breathing, and don't let your mind wander to other things', and I would realize that for the last 30 minutes I hadn't thought about classes, homework, or work even once. This is so helpful during college when every other minute of your life is consumed by stress!
3. You start to become really confident in yourself.
One of the biggest things that our yoga instructor stresses is to love and appreciate your body. Our bodies carry us around all day, and we push it to the point of exhaustion, and she wants us never to forget all the wonderful things it does.
She reminds us that even if we can't do a pose perfectly, or aren't as flexible as someone else, or can't balance as well, or even look like a total fool, that our bodies are amazing and we should be proud of what it can do. Show a little gratitude for what the Lord gave you!
I constantly leave yoga feeling so much more confident in myself, both physically and mentally, all just from an hour on the mat.
4. You have a better outlook on life.
A big part of yoga is concentrating on positivity. The instructor will always pick a theme for the class, like self love, montras, relationships with others, the moon, etc., all centering around us and our world around us. It's a great way to reflect on who you are as a person and what you can do to become more loving and positive. As a Christian I also like to take the time to reflect on all the blessings that God has put into my life.
5. Yoga is great for any muscle pain.
Having horrible posture (as I do) puts a lot of strain on my lower back and shoulders. I'm often in pain at the end of the day from hunching over in class. Going to yoga takes away all the tension and ache that I feel. It stretches out my back and shoulders and has even helped improve my posture.
Yoga is also awesome because when you are feeling sore or tense, you can modify any move to fit whatever your body can handle. Our instructor always says to pay attention to how your body is feeling and adjust accordingly. Are you feeling up to a challenge? Then push yourself. Are you exhausted? Then enjoy the heck out of child's pose.
6. You can do it at home.
As amazing as it is that Naz students have access to yoga, not everyone does. Yes, there are tons of yoga studios in New York state, but they can be a bit pricey. Instead, you can buy a mat off of amazon for pretty cheap, lay it down in your living room, and pull up a yoga class video on YouTube. You go at your own pace, no judgment from others, just you enjoying yoga in the comfort of your own home.
If you've never taken a yoga class before, this word probably seems incredibly foreign to you. But trust me, it's the absolute best part of yoga. Wanna know another word for Shavasana? Yoga nap. Yup. It's a nap. On your yoga mat.
At the end of every class, we wind down with some simpler stretches, then we lay down flat on our backs, with our arms comfortably at our sides. Then the instructor shuts off the lights and turns on some calming music, while candles flicker around the room. Then she comes around with some essential oils and rubs a little on your forehead. It's the most calming thing you'll ever experience. It's incredibly sad when it's time to leave! You just wanna stay and sleep!