Story by Abbey Stoetzel
What has become a hobby to many, and a way to be healthy for others, the practice of yoga has been gaining popularity.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the amount of stress you guys put yourselves under and I think also you guys are more educated than adults are sometimes,” said Zenter. “So you check it out, you’re more open to trying things. And also, we see a lot of sports people, and famous people doing yoga and talking about it. So I think that has led to more teens doing yoga. But I also think also teens now are exposed to so many different things too, like YouTube. And a lot more parents seem to be doing it too.”
What many don’t realize is the amount of health benefits yoga has. For starters, yoga can help with something everyone knows how to do since day one: breathing.
“Yoga usually involves paying attention to your breath, which can help you relax. It may also call for specific breathing techniques.But yoga typically isn’t aerobic, like running or cycling, unless it’s an intense type of yoga or you’re doing it in a heated room,” said Zenter.
“At any level of yoga, you’ll probably start to notice benefits soon. In one study, people improved their flexibility by up to 35 percent after only eight weeks of yoga. Yoga poses work by stretching your muscles. They can help you move better and feel less stiff or tired,” said Zenter.
Spanish teacher Colleen Gibler started yoga when she was told she could no longer run.
“I love yoga because I really, really feel so much better when I am stretching a lot. I feel a big difference when I am not going to yoga…for the worse,” said Gibler.
Another benefit would be an increase in strength.
“Some styles of yoga, such as ashtanga and power yoga, are very physical,” said Zenter. “Practicing one of these styles will help you improve muscle tone. But even less vigorous styles of yoga, such as Iyengar and hatha, can provide strength and endurance benefits. Many of the poses, such as downward dog, upward dog, and the plank pose, build upper-body strength. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abs. Poses that strengthen the lower back include upward dog and the chair pose. When done right, nearly all poses build core strength in the deep abdominal muscles.”
Gibler has also seen the effect yoga has on strength.
“I do think that it has helped me to strengthen the muscles that have been affected by my disorder. I am getting stronger every day,” said Gibler.
“Yoga also helps your body awareness. That helps you notice more quickly if you’re slouching or slumping, so you can adjust your posture,” said Zenter.
Yoga has also become a way for many people to relax.
“Some types of yoga are about relaxation..Some yoga styles use meditation techniques that help calm the mind. Focusing on your breathing during yoga can do that, too,” said Zenter.
Sophomore Katelyn Colon started yoga after her sister had started.
“It’s helped me to become a more relaxed person and find something I enjoy,” said Colon.
Zenter has seen yoga help many people of all ages.
“The coolest thing I’ve ever seen was a lady called me. [She] was extremely depressed, [and she] never left her house and kind of had just told herself, ‘I’m gonna be stuck with this wheelchair.’ So I encouraged her to come in with her wheelchair and see what you can do,” said Zenter. “The more she came, the stronger she got. She wasn’t sad anymore and she started to believe in herself. And then she started to come in with a little walker, and then after a few months she uses a cane. So it’s pretty awesome and now she doesn’t use her cane.”
If someone is interested in starting yoga, Zenter said to just start someplace.
“Whether you can get yoga in in the morning, or after work or school, or you find it’s better for you at night, just start somewhere,” said Zenter. “There’s so many different kinds of yoga. There’s meditation type yoga versus restorative yoga, or if somebody’s an athlete and they want to keep those endorphins and move like that, there’s VinYasa Flow. I think what people will found out is they may start with a specific kind of yoga, but then they find so many other benefits from it, whether it’s the breath work, they’re sleeping better, they start to take care of themselves better.”