Ok, not gonna lie, the first time I went to a yoga class and we opened by chanting “oom” together while the teacher hit a gong I seriously thought I had accidentally joined a some sort of cult of soccer moms and hippies. By the end of that first class, though, I was hooked.
What shocked me initially was that yoga can actually be a great workout. My personal favorite is hot yoga- it’s like working out in the Rock in the summer. If you take an intense enough class you feel like you’ve sweat off half your body weight (I’ve definitely been that person who slips on their mat because it’s covered in sweat, so don’t be embarrassed). Those of you who work out regularly know that it’s important to change up your routine to work different parts of your body and avoid injury, and yoga is a perfect option for your off days in between demanding workouts.
As Notre Dame students, we are known not only for a generally physically fit student body, but for our rigorous academics. This means stress, and lots of it. Yoga, like many other exercises, can be a great escape from the troubles of your day/week/month/life. It’s important to set aside time for yourself, and yoga does a great job of forcing you to clear your mind (even if it’s for just an hour).
Another aspect of yoga that makes it perfect for college students is its convenience. You can practice yoga essentially anywhere and need almost nothing. I would normally recommend using a mat, but if you just need a quick stretch you can simply push aside the dirty clothes we both know are all over your floor and do some yoga in your dorm room. You can also incorporate other things into your yoga practice, such as cardio or weights. Another favorite class of mine is called Yoga Sculpt, which, let me tell you, kicked my ass the first time I did it. All you need to do is hold small (5-8 lb) weights during standing poses and break up cycles with cardio (jumping jacks, burpees, high knees, etc).
Potentially the most convincing argument to try yoga is the benefits it can have for your health later in life. Regular practice increases overall flexibility, which is something that we can easily lose as we age if we don’t keep up with it. I don’t know about you, but I plan on being able to stay active as long as possible and it starts with the habits we develop now. I see plenty of old people in my yoga classes that are far more fit than I am, and my own grandma was doing headstands well into her 70s.
Ok, now that you’re convinced, grab a mat and check out the plethora of instructional videos online.