Yoga and you


Junior Dejohnette Williams does yoga in the small park next to Glenn Hall Photo credit: Jovanna Garcia

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Dejohnette Williams displays a yoga warmup she learned in class. Photo credit: Jovanna Garcia

When thinking of yoga, the image of black stretch pants and colorful mats might come to the mind before the health benefits that yoga can offer.

Yoga has been around for 5,000 years and was created by the Indus-Savasvati civilization in India. The growing trend of yoga across America is only a recent development, as several college campuses have turned the practice into a physical education course.

Yoga at Chico State offers several benefits, including becoming more flexible, maintaining an inner peace, and core strengthening. Judith Quirroz, a Chico state student who is currently enrolled in yoga explained some of the health benefits of the class.

“Physically, yoga has made me stronger. Spiritually, you are more at one with yourself,” Quirroz said.

While yoga is a form of exercise some people use it as more of a spiritual form, and for mental preparation. Senior forward Rajaee Delane of the Chico State men’s soccer team is a firm believer of the ability yoga has to enhance his game.

“I like to do yoga in the mornings, its relaxing but it helps get my mind in the right place for the day,” DeLane said.

There are many poses in yoga that stretch, strengthen, and bring peace to the body according to Quirroz. Her two favorite poses are “warrior pose,” and “child’s pose.” The two polar opposite poses both made her feel strong, and comforted.

“Warrior pose makes you feel powerful because of the stance you take. It makes you feel really bold, and really strong,” Quirroz explained.

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Dejohnette Williams shows an example of Child's pose. Photo credit: Jovanna Garcia

Quirroz also discussed the benefits of child’s pose and how it made her feel more at ease during her sessions.

“It calms you down and gives you time to readjust your breath,” Quirroz said.

According to Quirroz, the core exercises done in yoga can become difficult depending on the balance required, and the time held in the pose. The combination of holding a pose and not falling requires extreme mental concentration.

“A lot of the core strength we do is difficult because you have to hold it for a certain amount of time, and if you do hold it, you can actually feel it in your abs,” Quirroz said.

Although some Chico State students have found the exercises to be relaxing and assist them in keeping their mind on track, the practice has several critics as well, including CrossFit trainer Amber Larsen, who found the practice to be potentially dangerous.

“So what happens when you are in a hot yoga room, you can’t get out, and you begin to get sick? You may be starting to suffer from heat exhaustion,” Larsen said.

Chico State student Dejohnette Williams also took the yoga course at Chico State for both semesters last year, and disagreed with Larsen’s comments.

“It’s all pretty safe. Our instructors know what they’re doing, and you don’t ever feel trapped,” Williams said.

The course Williams took helped her with a pre-existing injury she had gotten during her first year of college.

“When I started doing yoga, extending my knee was a problem for me, but it helped make my knee more flexible and made it hurt less,” Williams said.

Although concerns about the safety of the practice have arisen, the experience of the instructors and the safe atmosphere the students experience have proven the program’s success at creating a protected environment.

Some of the religious aspects of yoga are kept in the sessions to give it the spiritual vibe, such as mediation and mental strengthening.

“At the end, we say ‘namaste,’ meaning when my soul meets your soul, we are one.” Quirroz said.

Chico State’s yoga class offers an experience that is both spiritual as well as physical for Quirroz and Williams. Both said the reason they kept participating in the class at the beginning was because of the sensation of peace they felt when they left their class.

Yoga at Chico State benefits its students through giving them a basic workout, and providing the students time to reach mental clarity. While the program is still relatively new, students have already filled the classes, as they search for their inner peace.

Danielle Pubill can be reached at [email protected], or on Twitter @daniellepubill1.