A crash course in yoga

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Laura Faye / The Record

Lauren Cifra , Reporter

With midterms around the corner, it can often be hard for a student to remain calm, cool, and collected.  Yoga, an exercise and stretching technique dating back more than 5,000 years, is a practice utilized to make individuals emulate and channel these emotions. Some students try to make cardio and lifting an outlet for their rising stress levels; however, these vices do not work for everyone.

Yoga is trending across SUNY Buffalo State’s campus, along Elmwood and across the nation. Health gurus everywhere have developed a higher appreciation in the exercise of connecting their mind and body. So, what is yoga exactly? According to the American Yoga Association, yoga means, “to join or yoke together,” and it is said to, “bring the mind and body together into one harmonious experience”.

While yoga is practiced around the world, SUNY Buffalo State offers the experience for students on campus through the course, Philosophy of Yoga. Leigh Duffy, professor of Philosophy of Yoga, explains her passion and reasons for instructing the course. When asked how often yoga should be practiced in order to be effective, Duffy replied, “Everyday!” She reassures yoga newbies that practicing everyday does not equate to hours of strenuous physical stretching. Instead, Duffy adds, “You will definitely see the benefits of the practice. Five minutes of focused breathing everyday can do amazing things for a person’s body and mind. That said, even a little bit of yoga is better than nothing and you have to start somewhere. Taking one yoga class a week can also be very effective”.

With over one hundred styles of yoga, there is a method for everyone. The American Yoga Association has found that about seven of these methods are the more favorable than the rest. These include Hatha, Raja, Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, Tantra and Kashmir Shaivism, each varying from the next. Duffy, trained in Hatha yoga, uses a Vinyasa method in her classroom. Her teaching approach includes the ideas behind the movement along with the theory. Theory is incorporated to give students a complete understanding of movement in yoga, and the connection between the body and mind.

Some individuals perceive yoga as solely an exercise to increase flexibility. On the contrary, yoga is practiced not only to increase flexibility but also to build strength and improve balance.

“Yoga builds a lot of strength. New students are always surprised at how much of a work out the practice can be. There is also a strong mental connection with the physical practice and so yoga also helps with stress management and anxiety. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and lower the heart rate. It brings greater self-awareness, greater confidence. In terms of studying the theory, the benefits of studying this particular philosophy are the same benefits one would expect from studying any philosophy: becoming a better critical thinking, becoming more informed about other views of the world, opening one’s mind to alternative ways of thinking about the self and the world, and having a better understanding of the world and one’s place in it,” Duffy explains.

Maya Burns, a junior from Brooklyn, New York, is currently enrolled in the class. She believes she is reaping the benefits that come from practicing yoga. Understanding the stress that directly correlates to a student and their studies, Burns says, “It brings me back to the simplistic ideals of living life, it reminds me to not get caught up when I have a thousand things on my mind.” Burns adds that most college kids can relate to having a thousand things on their mind and the course enables her to relax and remain levelheaded.

With only so much room in a classroom, there is always another option. One option right down the road from SUNY Buffalo State is called Evolation Yoga. This studio is the closest space near campus to learn the techniques of yoga. Student discounts are offered with ID.

If nothing else works when it comes to finding a vice, yoga might just be the answer. Centuries of practice prove that yoga is here to stay.

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