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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Opinion: Do yoga, beat finals

 
 

I can stand on my head. In Sanskrit, a headstand is known as Sirsasana.
Sometimes I start in Dolphin Pose – a variation of Downward-Facing Dog. My body will make a “V” shape, toes tucked under, hips back. I then inch my feet up to my elbows, one foot coming off the ground, then the other. And then I’m up, upside down and back perpendicular to the floor.
The world looks wonderful upside down.
My favorite yoga posture however, is a variation of child’s pose – it’s a hip-opener. A lot of people carry tension in their hips. This is a pose that embodies complete surrender for me and it isn’t necessarily “easier” than a headstand, for that reason.
Wherever you are, at whatever moment, yoga practice can meet you halfway, which is why I have made it a lifestyle.
The ability to practice yoga is not bound by body frame, gender, class, race, religion or physical state. The practice can be energizing or restorative. It’s all about how you feel and what your body needs.
Now that finals are rolling around, students are likely to be consuming endless amounts of caffeine and sugar, walking in an unhygienic shame out of the Annex. Their sleep-deprived bodies will be in a state of panic.
Treat the body kindly. If you can’t afford a studio class fee in town, attend a Rec Center class. Go to the library when they offer a free yoga session. Lie on your back for 10 minutes. Inhale for six seconds. Exhale for six seconds. You’ll be amazed.
Yoga is not your white horse. It won’t save you from failing your finals or a class, but first you have to throw away any expectations. Yoga can center you. And if you allow it, yoga will temporarily redirect your anxiety.
Yoga is a scientific and a spiritual discipline that incorporates breathing, movement and meditation and is rooted in eastern tradition, said Lisa Tauferner, a local yoga instructor who earned his master’s degree from A&M in 2007. Tauferner said yoga induces the parasympathetic nervous system, the system in our bodies that elicits a relaxation response.
“The word yoga means to unite, or yoke,” Tauferner said. “The idea is joining mind and body and strengthening that connection a little bit. More so that people are able to increase self-awareness, and in turn get that daily benefit, not just physically, but being calm and [having] better emotional balance.”
I’m sure people imagine – when I tell them that yoga is a part of my daily life – that I engage in this mystical practice where I’m wandering through a meadow meditating.
Maybe they envision that I’m on my mat throughout the day contorting my body into a complicated pretzel-like pose or that I spend hundreds of dollars on Lulu Lemon attire.
When people tell me that they are interested in yoga, I tell them to go to a class. And I’m often told they are too busy or that their body could never bend in such a way that they see in photos.
People will also pull up a photo and tell me, “I want to look like that.”
“A lot of people think that they need to, one, be flexible to do yoga,” Tauferner said. “And I say, ‘We do yoga to stay flexible, not because we are flexible.'”
My body will likely never be able to move into certain poses. Yoga does not assume or expect people to perfect or “achieve” every posture.
Scroll through the “#yogaeverydamnday” tag on Instagram and you’ll see thousands of beautiful “yogis” and instructors with toned abs and maybe a couple of tattoos performing these beautiful twists and variations of poses.
Combine western commercialization of yoga and the human drive for success, and people become intimidated by yoga.
Try not to be mistaken – there is a reason that there are numerous schools of thought. Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Yin or Bikram yoga – each kind combines different variations of how to practice yoga, but all stem from one fundamental aspect: breathing.
Yoga is rooted in breathing, Tarferner said, which is why anyone can do yoga. Anyone can breathe. The movements are secondary.
I became interested in yoga when I was 14, but I didn’t understand how important breathing was to yoga until two years ago, during my freshman year of college when I began attending studio classes.
“I always tell people, sometimes we’ll just do a breathing practice and we’re just sitting in chairs, we’re not on mats or anything, and after were done I’ll tell them, ‘I don’t know if you realized, but we just did yoga,'” Tauferner said. “And they’re always really surprised.”
I used to think yoga only encompassed learning one pose and then moving on to the next. Yoga is a state of being.
It’s changed how I treat and listen to my body. It’s changed how I view anxiety, when it surfaces (as it always will at some point).
If you ask any yogi, they’ll tell you yoga is about being present and being mindful.
Breathing will take you there. Postures will take you there. Don’t hesitate to try it out. Namaste.

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