Spring Break may be over, but why stop exercising? If running or going to the gym is too boring, try taking a class offered by UF’s RecSports. Besides Zumba and Total Body, RecSports offers several versions of yoga to keep your body and mind in tip-top shape. Yoga is a great way to stay healthy because it offers numerous mental and physical benefits.
Physical BenefitsPhysically, yoga is extremely helpful in increasing your flexibility, balance, and strength. Growing up I could never touch my toes, but now I’m able to slip my palms under my feet with my legs extended. Other poses are designed to stretch out your hips, shoulders, and basically every other part of your body.
The various balance poses teach you how to really focus on achieving your goal, which is keeping your leg up in a specific position without toppling over. Positions like “Downward-Facing Dog” and “Warrior II” make you stronger just by holding them. You don’t even need to lift weights because you get stronger just by lifting your body and getting into the different positions. The first yoga class you do will seem nearly impossible, but the more you do it, the better you get!
An important part of yoga is to remember to challenge yourself. Each class should be difficult on some level – push yourself to hold the pose longer, sink a little lower, or bend a little farther. You can’t progress if you don’t force yourself to be stronger and more flexible.
Mental Benefits Besides the physical perks of doing yoga, the practice also benefits you mentally. During class, it’s hard to think about anything else besides getting the pose just right or pushing your body a little farther. That means all the stress from your day goes right out the window as you do your sun salutations and half-series. For a person who has way too many thoughts in her head, my daily practice is a great way to press pause to my worries and focus on something else. Your focus is completely on your body – the positions it gets into, the stretches it feels, and the energy flowing through it.
Yoga is a learning process. Even the most dedicated yogis fall over! Don’t be afraid to try a new pose or bend your body a different way just because it feels weird. Like most exercise classes, yoga is also available to practice with the help of an online teacher. Several websites have videos with yoga practices on them that let you follow along on your yoga mat in your living room. No matter which option you choose, yoga is a great way to get your mind off that huge chemistry test you may or may not have failed. Namaste, collegiettes™!