Yoga proves therapeutic for students

For a large majority of students, Monday mornings are reserved for getting every last minute of sleep possible to recover from the weekend. However, for a select few, sleep is sacrificed for a 7 a.m. yoga class.

Brittany Thiesing/KANSAN Students wake up early and attend the Sunrise Yoga class at 7 a.m. through the KU Fit program at the Ambler Student Recreational Fitness Center. Sunrise Yoga is offered every Monday and Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

Brittany Thiesing/KANSAN Students wake up early and attend the Sunrise Yoga class at 7 a.m. through the KU Fit program at the Ambler Student Recreational Fitness Center. Sunrise Yoga is offered every Monday and Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

The sunrise filtering into the darkened room creates a serene atmosphere. The instructor, Kimberly Warne, emphasizes balance and breathing while her seven students on yoga mats move through poses that highlight the beauty and shape of the human body.

“It’s a really good stress release, and it’s a really good way to get in tune with your body,” Warne, a senior from Rochester, Minn., said. “A lot of us go through the day and we don’t realize that we’re not taking full advantage of our breath, of our movements and that hinders us and makes us have back pain and shoulder pain, and we get stressed out. It’s really nice to come here and remember what your body is supposed to be used for.”

Warne has been teaching yoga since she became certified during her freshman year. Introduced to it as a dancer, she has been doing yoga in her spare time since she was 10.

“Yoga—when I do it myself—is very personal, kind of like a relationship that helps me work through things,” she said. “As far as teaching, I like to share that relationship with students and make them feel comfortable and appreciative of their bodies.”

Although it’s not a vigorous activity, yoga can have some serious health benefits. Recently, doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital have found that in addition to reducing risk factors for heart disease, yoga can improve symptoms of atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder that can cause anxiety and depression.

According to a press release by the hospital, the participants, all beginners, engaged in three 45-minute yoga sessions per week and were encouraged to practice daily at home. The results revealed that they showed improvements in number of episodes of irregular heart beat and overall quality of life.

The stress that the college experience puts on students can have adverse effects. Brittany Brannon, a first-year master’s student from Atwater, Ohio, started yoga this semester to regain strength and flexibility due to a back injury. She believes yoga can combat that stress.

“I think we get so caught up in the things that we have to do,” she said. “It’s nice to have a place to come and sort of let everything go, and I think that helps you physically to rejuvenate.”

With the variety of yoga classes offered through KU Fit, there are options for beginners and advanced students alike. KU Fit allows students to participate in a variety of fitness classes for $50 a semester at the Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center.  For Rachel Bloom, a third-year Ph.D. student from Wheaton, Ill., yoga has become part of her weekly routine.

“I like that it’s a bit of strength training, but it works with your own body,” she said. “It kind of compliments other ways of working out in a way that’s also calming and relaxing, and it feels like it stretches me in ways I don’t get to do throughout the day.”

Brian Lamoreux, a junior from Baldwin City, believes yoga can be mentally refreshing and physically increase energy.

“It clears your mind . . . it also makes you feel stronger and more flexible,” he said. “It’s a good feeling for the body. Walking around, you don’t feel as sluggish; you feel more alert, body and mind.”

Aside from the physical and mental benefits, the personal element of yoga can be just as rewarding for students.

“It’s not as competitive,”  Lamoreux said. “It’s more about being yourself and being happy with yourself.”

“It’s just a really good way to learn about your body,” Warne said. “As college students, we are trying to learn who we are. I think yoga can help with that.”

Emma LeGault is a junior from Emporia majoring in journalism. Read more from .

  • Updated Feb. 7, 2013 at 12:24 am
  • Edited by Hayley Jozwiak