As the semester progresses and calendars quickly fill up, finding a healthy routine can be very beneficial. Incorporating yoga into your schedule is an effective way to prioritize your mental and physical well being this school year.
The University of Maryland’s RecWell program offers numerous outlets to participate in guided yoga classes. Through the group fitness membership, students are able to register online for a variety of classes at no charge.
Melissa Minnifield is the coordinator of fitness programs at the university's recreation and wellness facilities. Currently, RecWell offers power yoga, restorative yoga, hatha yoga and yoga flow. Minnifield explained each variation of yoga aims to target different mental or physical areas.
Power yoga consists of energetic classes perfect for someone looking to use yoga to strengthen the body.
Restorative yoga classes slow things down and call for incorporating meditation and slow mat movements.
Typically geared towards people that are newer to the practice, Hatha yoga is slower paced, making it perfect for someone just getting involved.
Yoga flow incorporates an increased assortment of poses that the class flows through in unison.
The fitness programs recently removed a beginner yoga course on the basis that any class RecWell offers can accommodate all ability levels.
“[Beginner yogis] should be able to get to any class and feel like they're getting all the information that they need,” Minnifield said.
When Minnifield isn't carrying out duties as the fitness programs coordinator, she teaches yoga classes at RecWell. As an instructor, Minnifield believes that it's important to keep that mindset that yoga is a practice.
“We're not going to get every pose right, and we're not going to get every movement right, there is no right and wrong and yoga,” she said.
Properly preparing for a yoga class is the key to success.
Wearing the correct attire, bringing the necessary equipment, and going into a session with the right mindset all play a role in the extent to which yoga will benefit you. A large component of yoga is putting yourself into a relaxing state and environment.
Dress for yoga class in clothes that will allow you to feel secure and comfortable, while exerting your body into different physical positions and mental mindsets. Choosing clothing made of stretchy and non-conforming fabrics help attain a relaxed fit while ensuring you can move freely. Womens athletic wear companies such as Lululemon, Alo Yoga and Halara provide various clothing specific for yoga.
Two common accessories that are closely associated with yoga are the yoga mat and yoga block.
Yoga mats protect your joints from impact against the floor and provide a gripped surface, while yoga blocks allow for modifying poses to make them more accessible.
Don't have these items? No worries!
“We provide everything that you need. We have yoga blocks, and we have yoga mats that participants can use, so they are not obligated to bring anything,” Minnifield said.
Mary Grace McPhee, a sophomore kinesiology major at the University of Maryland attended RecWell’s yoga classes.
“I thought it was very enjoyable and it was nice to be led by an instructor,” McPhee said. “The fact that it was free was amazing.”
Accessories aside, entering the environment of a yoga class with an open mindset and attitude is essential to the success of a new yogi's first experience. Make sure to be receptive to advice and accept that it may take you time to get the hang of new techniques and concepts.
The benefits of practicing yoga are numerous. The physical requirements of yoga assist in improving a person's strength, balance, and flexibility. The meditation and breathing components of yoga aid in managing stress and boosting energy and mood.
“It makes you focus on your mind and body connection and it helps free your mind of any thoughts,” McPhee said.
The diverse variations and practices are successful at making this activity very beginner friendly. Regardless of your self perceived skill level or athletic capability, yoga has a place for everyone.
“Giving back to yourself is really crucial. A lot of times especially as students you're giving to organizations, you're giving to jobs, you're giving to your academics, and it's really important to give back to your body in that way,” said Minnifield.
Take a leap and try out yoga today, your mind and body will thank you!