Yoga seeks to strengthen both body and mind

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What once was practiced more than 5,000 years ago as part of a quest for improved health and being in-tune with oneself has now spread across the world as a way to improve both mental and physical states of being.
“The thing about yoga is that it improves endurance, flexibility, balance and postures,” SCSU Fitness Coordinator Chris Haukos said.
“When you do yoga you focus on breathing. It helps improve imbalances in your body as well.”
Offered during the fall semester Monday through Friday at 8 a.m. and then again in the evenings Monday through Thursday at 7 p.m. Haukos said yoga is something that has tremendous benefits for participants.
“In our industrial world, some of our muscles get strong and then they get over tight,” Haukos said.
Attributing this to the basics of most students’ daily lives of sitting at a computer or engaging in other physical activities such as running, Haukos said while repetitive actions do strengthen muscles, they tend to weaken or not work other muscles in the body.
“In yoga, you utilize your full body. It helps improve all of your stabilizers (such as the spine). It improves balance and helps with posture. Yoga also aids in strengthening and stretching out muscles.”
Haukos said the campus Fitness Center starts each semester out by providing yoga instruction to all levels of participants.
“Our instructors really start with overall instruction. And gradually through the semester they increase the intensity,” she said.
And with the four current yoga instructors on campus—Nora, CC, Katie and Alexis—Haukos said each instructor treats the participants as individuals and they seek to help their students improve.
“Let’s face it. You’re not going to be good at yoga the first time you start. But that’s not the point. It’s about getting better for yourself,” Haukos said.
While yoga instruction is done in a classroom setting, the techniques are very much for the individual.  Haukos described the instruction as more of a guideline to follow. And if participants can’t do the poses or hold them as long as the rest of the class, then that’s just fine. Since she described the practice as improving oneself, she encourages participants to do the poses to the best of their ability and not to watch what everyone else is doing.
“It’s all about being better and better for yourself,” Haukos said.
And while yoga can be beneficial for everyone, Haukos sees a lot of student athletes using yoga to help better themselves as athletes.
“We see a lot of hockey players, members of the swim team and football team. A lot of athletes are seeing the value in yoga,” she said.
Given that many of the athletes are only working certain areas of their bodies, Haukos said yoga really helps stretch out and strengthen areas of the body that aren’t used as much.
“And the great thing is it all done using your body weight,” she said.
Each participant is more than welcome to bring in their own supplies, but for those that don’t have the finances to afford the basics of yoga, the Fitness Center does have supplies that people can use for the duration of the course.
“We offer something for everyone,” she said.
With each of the four student instructors bringing in their own areas of expertise, Haukos encourages students to try out the different classes to see what is the best fit for them.
Yoga courses will be offered as part of SCSU’s free fitness week kicking off September 2 through September 6.
There will be a free Yoga in the Park event on Sunday, September 7 in Barden Park to kick off National Yoga Month. 50 sun salutations will be performed with the aid of all four instructors. The event starts at noon with a rain site location in the Atwood Ballroom.