Carina Marsella is a fourth year double majoring in Anthropology and Italian. As of now, she enjoys teaching yoga for UCLA Recreation and will be starting an English TA job in the fall at a high school in Italy. She is the current President of Yoga for Flexible Futures (YFF), a club on campus that promotes healthy lifestyles to young elementary school students. We had the opportunity to chat with Carina and learn more about YFF and why she loves it so much!
Her Campus: What are the goals of YFF?
Carina Marsella: YFF promotes health and wellness by teaching yoga and nutrition lessons to inner city elementary school students on a weekly basis. We hope that exposure to these principles at a young age will equip students with knowledge and tools to form positive habits regarding various aspects of their health and wellbeing.
HC: Why did you join this organization?
CM: I joined during the second half of my freshman year because I was looking for ways to get involved at UCLA. In my search I came across YFF, which aligned with my values and interests. Health and wellness, mindfulness and nutrition are important to me, and through YFF I am able to share this with others — I have the opportunity to focus on what I am passionate about while making a positive impact on the larger community. In addition to serving the community, YFF is special with regards to my fellow students that are involved. I feel fortunate to surround myself with peers who have similar interests and values, and encourage me to be my best self.
HC: What is one piece of advice you give to the kids you teach?
CM: The mindset that we choose shapes our actions as well as interactions with the world around us. We have the power to create boundaries for ourselves and open ourselves up to possibilities for growth, so I try to be as positive as I can with the kids. I encourage them to be open-minded and confident, which is great because most get excited by challenging postures. Meanwhile, there are others who get intimidated, and with them I ask them to “just try it” or “give it a chance” and walk them through step-by-step.
HC: What has been your favorite memory with YFF?
CM: My name is not the most common and gets misspelled often. So it surprised me when one of the girls, who I had just met the previous week, made a perfect name-tag for me (tbh most adults would not be able to do this). It’s little moments like these that the kids warm my heart and remind me why I love YFF. Another time, I was with my friend Aubrey when she told me that one of the parents had approached her and told her that their entire family practiced yoga all together once a week using what their child learned at that week’s lesson. Hearing that what we do on a weekly basis has a positive impact on not only the kids, but on a larger level, was very rewarding.
HC: What advice do you have for college students wanting to live a healthier lifestyle?
CM: I could go on and on about this topic, but I’ll just leave you with this idea: it all comes down to choice and self love. One of my favorite yoga teachers often says something that has really stuck with me and I hope can resonate with you too: “Choose to be better because you are worth it.”
Thank you Carina for sharing your experiences with YFF! If you are interested in joining, you can email YFF at [email protected] and help kids (and yourself) pursue healthy lifestyles