Yoga Club stresses mental exercise over physical

By Erika Collin | 12/8/13 7:33pm

Yoga not only builds physical strength and flexibility, but many have suggested that it also has major holistic health benefits. Grand Valley State University’s Yoga Club wants to introduce students to these spiritual aspects of yoga.

“We try to focus more on not just the physical aspects of yoga but also the mind (and) body connection,” said Emma Gasinski, club vice president and instructor.

Every Sunday, the Yoga Club meets at the Fieldhouse in room 160 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The free classes often consist of a warm-up, workout and meditation. However, some weeks the club focuses on a specific type of yoga, including laughing yoga and alignment yoga. The club strives to emphasize both the mental and physical strength-building components of yoga.

“My favorite part of Yoga Club is that it’s on Sunday, and it’s a great way to start the week,” Gasinski said. “(You can) just relax and think about nothing and everything at the same time and just start the week off great.”

The yoga done in Yoga Club is a mixture of beginning and intermediate, so it’s open to all students, even if they have never done yoga before in their lives.

“We walk everyone through all the poses. Like a Sun Salutation or a Vinyasa,” said Bryan Smigielski, club president and instructor. “We keep in mind that this could be someone’s first time practicing yoga.”

The instructors make sure to go through the poses step by step because, despite popular belief, yoga can be very challenging. Although it is not cardio, it still is a workout.

“You‘re not going to be out of breath or burning calories, but you are going be building dynamic strength,” Smigielski said. “You’re not just building strength by working out one muscle; you’re building all of your stability muscles.”

Similar to any other form of exercise, there is always room to improve.

“It doesn’t matter what you’re doing in yoga. You can always push yourself to a point where you want to give up,” Smigielski said. “It’s a way of building mental strength while you’re also building your physical strength.”

The mental aspect of yoga is something that the members of Yoga Club want to expand on this year. Next semester, they plan to have more than one class a week in order to practice different traditions of yoga.

“We want to have a whole class just for meditation and then have the more traditional physical practices on the other days,” Smigielski said. “We try to bring to Yoga Club that yoga isn’t just the physical practice that’s sometimes advertised and very popular in our culture right now.”

Currently, Yoga Club has between five and 15 students at each class, but the members are hoping that number will go up.

“It’s a sincere environment; we’re there because we want to do (yoga),” Smigielski said. “I think that’s a good environment to have. There’s something to say about the fact that we’re all there because we love it.”

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