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The latest craze in the arena of fitness is yoga. According to WebMD, about 11 million Americans are rolling out their mats and practicing yoga. Classes range from Bikram (hot) yoga, Power yoga, Native yoga, even Soul Cycle (yoga on a spin bike). Research has shown that yoga has a wide variety of health benefits. According to the Yoga Health Foundation, yoga can help with effects of depression, ease back pain, lower blood sugar in Diabetics, relieve stress and help you relax.

Like every other college student, I am stressed and am in need of the relaxing benefits of yoga. I have also wanted to try yoga to help improve my flexibility. I am not exaggerating when I say I cannot even touch my toes! The Colvin offers several yoga classes. My favorite class is power yoga at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursdays, taught by Mary.  Power yoga is a great solution for beginners. It is fast-paced, where you move through a series of moves for only five breaths.

I asked the teacher if I would benefit from the class even though I am not flexible. She said to give the class at least three months before I give up. Three months is a big commitment, but it has forced me to keep going to class. It is a slow, but rewarding process. I can now reach my ankles and I have almost mastered a headstand! Yoga challenges me in many ways. Doing the poses correctly is a challenge within itself but it has also taught me to be aware of my body, push myself beyond what I think I can handle and escape from the stress of the day.

In my opinion, the biggest benefit of yoga is not addressed in the health articles. That benefit would be the acceptance of your self-image. I have never had a positive body image, no matter how many compliments I may receive, I cannot bring myself to accept my body. Yoga has taught me to focus on my personal goals, to go to the class and just learn to breathe and clear my mind. Mary encourages us to close our eyes, and not compare ourselves to other people in the class because everyone is different. The competitive individual I am, that was a tough concept to wrap my mind around! But, once I quit comparing I found an inner peace, and a feeling of acceptance of my body. I am not perfect; I still have "fat days." However, I am more aware of myself and I try my best not to compare myself to others and through that I have found acceptance.

Therefore, for any woman out there debating if she should roll out her mat and try downward dog, I highly encourage you to go for it. Go to experience the challenge, the relaxation, to escape from the day or to try out a headstand. But most importantly go for yourself, and don't be scared to push yourself farther than you think possible.

I am a junior studying strategic communications, at Oklahoma State University. I am interested in PR, working for an agency, reputation management or writing for a health magazine. Like everybody else I am addicted to Pinterest, I try to bake healthy food but it somehow always turns into a sugar-filled cake. I love to hike, bike, hang glide and do pretty much everything in my Chacos.
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