Strike a pose: The benefits and challenges of yoga

Sugi Bala does a yoga pose during a class at the Rec Complex (Gabriela Faraone | Collegian Media Group)

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to

I challenged myself to take some yoga classes during this past week, and it totally pushed me away of my comfort zone.

Staying still or remaining in one position for more than 30 seconds is not something that I am very comfortable doing it. Many people may feel the same.

“We live in an unbelievably fast paced world and it is hard for our bodies to adapt to the lack of physical activity and our mind to the numerous stimuli unique to our generation”, said Colin Gentry, senior in psychology and anthropology.

Gentry works as a yoga instructor at the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex.

“Since the day I started, I realized that yoga was and is not only healing my body but my mind as well,” he said.

According to the Harvard Medical School the practice of yoga “can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression”.

Through yoga, you learn to stop, focus on the moment and listen to your breath.You can get closer to your thoughts, enjoy the silence, clear your mind and learn to read the signs of your body.

Going to a yoga class can not only challenge you physically, but it challenge you mentally as well.

Gentry remembers the first times he went to yoga, and he had weird no clue what he was really getting into.

“I thought my eyes needed to be closed the whole practice” he said.

It’s incredible what practicing yoga can make you feel. There were times that I felt strong and was able to keep up with the poses.

There were other days that I felt vulnerable and weak. It was a reminder that I was doing something wrong, that something was missing and needed to be change.

Gentry is in his first semester as a yoga instructor at the Rec. He completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training in Costa Rica over the summer.

“Our sympathetic nervous system is stuck on leading to many of the stress related physical and mental illness and to relax we need to trigger the parasympathetic side, this is where yoga comes into play” Gentry said.

Many people think of yoga only as the poses, or asanas, but this aspect of yoga has only been around a little over a hundred years as a supplement for meditation or harnessing the power of the mind, which has been around for thousands of years.

When you use the breathing techniques that go along with the yoga practice, you can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system and calm anxiety. This lends to greater clarity in thinking.

The principles of yoga can be a very positive influence in someone’s life.

Gentry knows that yoga has helped to guide him closer to the person he would like to be. Being a yoga instructor has also been rewarding for him.

“I have loved helping people feel more comfortable within their own body and offering my practice to others at whatever level they are at”, Gentry said.

Yoga is more than just poses, it is a spiritual practice that can heal your body and mind.

Starting yoga can be as simple as taking a brief daily meditation period, being more aware of your breathing, or checking out a free yoga class at the Rec.

Gabriela Faraone is a junior in kinesiology.