Yoga trend stretches across US, challenges K-State students

K-State students partake in a mixed level yoga class at the Chester E. Peters Recreation center on Jan. 31, 2017. (Meg Shearer | The Collegian)

Despite what you may think, yoga pants are not required. The body pretzel twist? Perhaps, but Americans are loving it.

The popularity of yoga in the U.S. has escalated across the country in the stretch of just four years.

According to a study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, 36.7 million Americans were practicing yoga in 2016, an approximate 80 percent increase from 2012 when there were 20.4 million practicing yoga.

Sydney Stoffregen, senior in kinesiology and yoga instructor at the Peters Recreation Complex, said one of the best parts about yoga is that anybody can do it.

“It’s for everybody and it’s for every body,” she said.

Yoga’s popularity can even be seen in retail, with yoga-inspired companies like Lululemon and Athleta gaining success. Lululemon’s sales between 2004 and 2015 have increased by approximately $1.8 billion, according to “Is Lululemon Losing Its Edge?” by GuruFocus.

“You get to do what your body is comfortable with,” Stoffregen said. “That’s what’s most important to me because I don’t have the perfect-shaped body.”

Austin Blanchon, sophomore in kinesiology, said he has been doing yoga on-and-off for three years. He said yoga’s popularity has a lot to do with the health consciousness of this generation.

“Our generation is really into their health and fitness, and they want to try new things,” he said.

Yoga may be trendy, but there are also benefits.

According to Yoga Alliance’s website under “Benefits of Yoga,” physical benefits include flexibility, increased strength, improved circulation and more. However, yoga is not just a physical practice; it can also be a means of mental exercise and meditation.

With mental benefits such as stress relief and peace of mind, yoga can serve as a favorable hobby for college students.

Stoffregen said when she was first introduced to yoga she did not think she would like it.

“I thought it was very meditative and that wasn’t my style,” she said. “I thought it’d be really boring, but it was actually really enjoyable.”

Stoffregen said she likes the balance of peace of mind and strength she reaches after practicing yoga.

“You can let go of everything else and just focus on your body, listening to what you’re doing,” she said. “And feeling strong yet kind of at peace when you’re done.”

Stoffregen has been practicing yoga for five years and has been a yoga instructor since late last summer.

Blanchon said the clear mind and physical feeling he gets after doing yoga is his favorite part.

“Honestly the best part is just the feeling after,” he said. “You feel good after it.”

For others, the best part about yoga is the challenge.

Akara Regimand, senior in communication studies, said one of her favorite things about yoga is becoming frustrated because of a challenging pose, then overcoming that frustration.

Regimand is a pilates instructor at the Rec Complex, but practices yoga in her free time.

For students interested in doing yoga, the Rec Complex is K-State’s home of exercise. The Rec offers at least one yoga class every day, including a variety of classes: rise and shine yoga (which is taught at 6:15 a.m.), advanced yoga and mixed-levels yoga for beginners.

Classes are held at the same times each week and the schedule is posted at the Rec as well as online. The Rec also provides yoga mats, so buying one is not necessary.

Regimand said even as a fitness instructor, yoga is still challenging when she goes to other classes.

“I’m a teacher and I go to other classes and I’m like ‘oh my God why am I not able to do this?’” she said. “But then when you’re finally able to do it, it’s the best thing.”