By CRISTINA DE LA TORRE
We’ve all felt that ache in our lower backs, the stiffness in our shoulders, or the sore arms from carrying all those textbooks. Fortunately, there is something we can do to relieve that pain — something that could be done in the convenience of our own bedrooms, car, or even in between classes. It’s called yoga.
Yoga does not have to be that complicated exercise we’ve seen on television or in magazines. There are many simple yoga exercises available. The trick is finding the one that works best.
“I like Tree Pose. It’s a balancing pose but it also helps me know if I am balanced in my life,” said Roxalyn Kaminanga, a senior at Mount Mary College who took Yoga 1 and 2 with Mount Mary yoga instructor Patti Breitbach Rashid two years ago.
This pose consists of standing up straight with the heel of your foot resting on your shin or ankle. Your arms are then in prayer pose, which consists of placing your hands together in a prayer-like fashion as you stare straight ahead. Don’t be afraid if wobbling occurs, as this tends to happen. Just pick a spot to focus on and stare at it. This imbalance is supposed to represent an imbalance in your life.
If you find this pose to be simple then you can place the bottom of your foot on your shin or even on the inside of your thigh to create more of a challenge. If done regularly, this pose can help promote balance, especially where posture is concerned.
Kaminanga also recommends Child’s Pose. This pose involves being on the ground in an almost prayer-like bow. Your hands are stretched out in front of you or balled into fists and stacked on top of one another as your head rests on them.
This pose stretches out your back in a relaxing fashion as your body is in complete rhythm with your breathing.
Corpse Pose is another relaxing pose that can easily be done by college students. Corpse Pose consists of lying down on your back with relaxed limbs and relaxed breathing.
“It relaxes your mind and helps you de-stress,” said Lourdes Mathias, a senior at Mount Mary who also took Yoga 1 with Rashid last year. This pose is usually done after a full yoga workout as a type of closing pose.
Another easy relaxing technique is alternate nostril breathing. This consists of pressing on one nostril while breathing in with the other. The process includes uncovering the opposite nostril and releasing air. Repeat this process while taking steady intakes of air. It can be done slow or fast and is meant to promote energy. It is a great way of getting energy before an exam or presentation.
Mountain Pose is another rewarding pose. “It aligns one’s spine to their hips to their toes. It also helps posture,” said Mathias.
This pose is done by standing with your back straight, head slightly tilted up, eyes straight ahead, shoulders back, planted feet, unlocked legs and aligned hips. It helps create the illusion of being taller. This pose can literally be done anywhere such as at work or while waiting in line at Starbucks, for instance. The end result is a feeling of being aligned both physically and mentally.
The most important thing to remember while practicing yoga is to control your mindset. “Adopt an attitude of grace,” as Rashid calls it.
“Take a moment and think of all the things you are thankful for. Take it one step further by making a list or starting a gratitude journal,” Rashid said.
Just having a positive and thankful mindset can do wonders for reducing your stress level. In the end, yoga is about promoting peace and if a certain pose is not bringing you peace, then alter it. You don’t want to end up hurting yourself. Yoga is geared towards your own strengths and weaknesses.