The battle for relaxation

Posted on 26 October 2016 by Ian Schrauth

Yoga I focuses on stress relief for students


By: Marie Schwarz
Managing Editor


Anybody who can breathe can practice yoga, said Katherine Hanewinkel, who teaches several physical education classes including yoga at Meramec.

“Everybody will benefit from yoga,” Hanewinkel said.

“But if you’re all over the place in your head, and that little monkey that’s talking in your head is driving you crazy, yoga is about taming the monkey in your mind.” Yoga is a practice of meeting life on the terms that you find yourself in the moment, said Darcie Star, yoga instructor at STLCC.

“Whatever happens on the mat, you take that off the mat,” Star said.laying down

“So if you’re meeting a challenge on the mat, you become aware of ‘how do I meet the challenge,’ … and that helps you to bring that into your life off the mat.” In different words, yoga is supposed to combine the body, mind and the spirit, said Hanewinkel.

“[Yoga] is calming and relaxing and destressing, and it can be used for a lot of things besides strength and flexibility and agility,” Hanewinkel said.

Star said yoga gives the chance to release stress, be in the moment, and take things a little easier.

However, Hanewinkel said, yoga is not for everybody.

“Because many people find it boring and they don’t make the mind-body-spirit connection,” Hanewinkel said.

“Everybody can do it and benefit from it, but if you’re doing it mindlessly, why bother.” Star said yoga can be integrated into everyday life if that doesn’t cause too much stress.

“For instance, using the Ujjayi Breathing (breathing technique often used in yoga) while you’re driving,” Star said.

“So just coming into a sort of meditative state – not meditative as in shutting out the outer world, especially when you’re driving – but meditative as in being present at the moment.” Brent Jackson, who is a general transfer student in nursing and a former U.S.

Army veteran, started doing yoga five months ago by watching videos on Youtube.

“[Doing yoga] got rid of my plantar fasciitis (inflammation of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes) and now I’m sticking with [yoga] and I really, really like it,” Jackson said.

Jackson, who just finished an 8 week yoga class with Hanewinkel, said he benefits from the class.

“The class is giving me poses to memorize, and then after that I just do – everyday now almost – whatever [pose]… I want,” Jackson said.

“It’s amazing.

I feel better; I feel like I have more energy.” Hanewinkel said the benefits are not just resulting from the poses, it’s also from the breathing exercises as well as learning how to meditate.

“Once you know enough, you’d be able to practice on your own and have your own practice,” Hanewinkel said.

“[However,] a lot of people won’t bother. They like the shared energy of a class. And that’s the best way to learn to have a professional teacher who knows what’s wrong with you as well as how to keep you from being hurt.” Star said getting started is the hardest part.

Hanewinkel said if students are scared to take a yoga class, that would probably be a good time to look up yoga videos on Youtube or rent yoga material at the library.

“There are a number of students who are afraid to take [yoga],” Hanewinkel said.

“And they will say stuff like ‘I’m not flexible enough to take a yoga class.’ Well, that’s like saying ‘I’m not dirty enough to take a bath.’ How flexible or how dirty do you have to be? You will benefit.”


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