Monday, January 26, 2009

Yoga heals both mind and body

 by Grace Dickinson   

Many students overlook the yoga classes at the IBC Student Recreation Center because they believe yoga is not enough of a vigorous workout.

Kara Koser, a freshman journalism major, goes to the gym often. She has heard people find yoga to be beneficial. However, she does not think it is an efficient exercise.

“I like to sweat and get dirty and feel it the next day,” Koser said. “Yoga doesn’t do that for me.”

Aimee Glocke, an adjunct professor of African-American studies and an IBC yoga instructor, said yoga is beneficial to anyone, including athletes.

“Yoga helps athletes because it complements their other training, as well as rejuvenates their body after all the beat-your-body-up forms of exercise they must endure,” she said.

Yoga poses are designed to build strength, increase flexibility, improve balance and develop focus and control.

Glocke’s favorite pose, the plank, works the upper body and the abs, while allowing smooth and even breathing. She stresses the idea “less can actually be more.”

“The difference between yoga and other athletic practices is you don’t have to do a lot of movement to still feel the benefits,” Glocke said. “Yoga can still make you work and feel its effects without having to run up and down a basketball court.”

Jordan Calwell, a junior kinesiology major and member of Temple’s track team, said yoga is a good counterbalance to his regular track workouts.

“The flexibility involved with yoga would be good cross training,” Calwell said.

There are hundreds of poses in yoga that range in all levels of difficulty to fit any and all needs.

Because yoga develops muscles that cannot be targeted through weight-training alone, athletes find it to be a good cross-training exercise.

The practice of yoga includes meditation as well as breathing exercises. When done correctly, these can help calm the body and mind. Whether a competitor or not, breathing has a tremendous impact on performance.

“The breathing practices of yoga will help athletes overall endurance and will help to allow their [breathing] to stay relaxed even when engaged in competition,” said Marie Pierre, also an IBC yoga instructor.

Glocke said the practice of yoga also helps to establish inner peace during difficult times in a person’s life.

“Yoga allows you to take peace to the real world,” she said. “In a world full of chaos and disarray, it allows you to find a sense of peace within yourself and what you’re doing.”

Yoga can help to decrease the anxiety that exists right before an upcoming football game or race, and it will keep the mind focused and concentrated.

“Meditation can relieve athletes’ stress, help clear their thoughts and allow them to center their mind and focus on their specific target, instead of a million other things at once,” Pierre said.

Glocke considers the class she teaches on Thursday nights to be an intermediate level class, but she and Pierre both offer variations on the poses they teach. The variations allow participants to decrease the level of difficulty if they find they are struggling or increase the intensity if they want more of a challenge.

Glocke tries to make the class a challenging workout because of the “yoga for fitness” attitudes she notices in many of the participants.

Aside from keeping a person physically fit, she said yoga can also help to improve character.

“Yoga brings attitude changes and makes people less hot-tempered and quick to judge,” Glocke said. “[These are] aspects that are beneficial to anyone.”


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