Weekly Wellness

by Laura Dillavou

Originating thousands of years ago, yoga is a science known to many and an invigorating activity to others.

Most recently, the Intramural department of Simpson College has integrated this ancient custom to it’s campus.

Now, students can feel the energy that yoga provides, free of charge, every Tuesday night in Cowles Wrestling Room.

For starters, yoga is much more than a simple exercise. When watching videos and participating in the activity, I have found that it is as much mental as it is physical.

Yoga involves a large amount of stretching, deep breathing and core concentration.

Comparable to Pilates, yoga involves breathing deep from the lungs, with solid, elongated in and out breaths.

As a person progresses through the poses, the breathing will become almost mantra-like, and soon, natural.

While participating in yoga, whether it is a class or a home video, there is a lot of focus given to large muscle areas. I found that all in all, yoga is a great stretch for all muscle groups.

The beginners edition, (which I would recommend for most) hits areas like the back, quads and abdominals. Eventually, muscles will become accustomed to these body-bending moves and will be able to move through them easily.

Since yoga concentrates on the core of the body, emphasis is put on posture, technique and the holding of poses.

With a straight spine and relaxed abdominal muscles, things become much easier and what looked like an impossible pose suddenly becomes easier.

Yoga is meant to relax the body and bring the spirit to a calm, serene state.

Of course, the ancient science involves all aspects of the body, such as internal organ cleansing.

While I don’t expect people to take it that far, those of the ancient East found that when paired with a vegetarian diet, yoga increased life span and overall physical health.

While looking through yoga books and journals, I found that many of the stretches that athletes use today were common thousands of years ago.

For example, a stretch that focuses on the buttocks and lower spine, where one sits facing the opposite direction and has their legs crossed in front is also called Ardha Matsendrasan, or a spinal twist.

Many moves dancers, cheerleaders and gymnasts use can also be dated back to the early days of yoga.

So get out on a Tuesday night and try something a little different.

If you are intimidated or feel like flexibility just isn’t your thing, try a video in your room-or go with a supportive friend. Worst case scenario is that you won’t like it and you will have spent an hour stretching muscles you didn’t know you had.

On the other hand, you may find the one physical activity that doesn’t really feel like it and gives you a great body tone-not to mention a fun conversation topic.

Yoga is Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. in the wrestling room at Cowles. Sign-up when you get there and bring your own mat if you have one.