Outdoor yoga class introduces program’s benefits to UM community

Posted February 10, 2014


Shavasana is the name of the most important part of a yoga class.

It is a moment of total relaxation, said UM sophomore student Alejandro Acosta-Rubio, who started practicing yoga one year ago. You close your eyes and lie on your back, spread your legs and arms around 45 degrees and take deep breaths.

Many adolescents deal with a lot of anxiety due to busy schedules. But as hard as it may be for some people to understand the benefits of yoga, it is a safe way to deal with stress.

In yoga classes, people develop natural abilities that later strengthen them psychologically and emotionally. For this reason, on Jan. 22, the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center at the University of Miami offered an outdoor Yoga class at the Schoninger Research Quadrangle.

The class was held to demonstrate the good benefits of yoga and motivate the UM community to join the program. In a community class, it does not matter the level of practice, assured UM yoga instructor Alice Schreiber.

“Usually we teach poses that are very passive in which people can’t get hurt,” Schreiber stated.

The session was offered with no cost to all university faculty members, alumni, students and staff, and will be held once a month throughout the spring semester.

It has always been said that exercise is important because it frees the mind. Among the benefits, training helps to reduce stress as we are release endorphins and helps strengthen the immunologic system through sweat, thus liberating toxins.

Exercise helps to lower arterial pressure, improve the quality of sleep and even to boost self-esteem. Yet, not everybody likes sports. Many people do not like to go to the gym because they are embarrassed of not being able to do the exercises or because they are overweight.

But the philosophy of yoga addresses all this problems.

The compromise is: “I believe in me, I take care of my body, I do my best effort, follow instructions, do the best that I can, I use yoga to calm myself, be strong, feel better, and I cherish my space on earth because I am connected to everything that surrounds.”

These were the advice of Nini Sherman, yoga instructor and practitioner for more that 10 years in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The most important thing about this practice is to do it for oneself and with time the concentration will bring self-confidence, Sherman said. But why is yoga the practice of “body, mind and soul”?

Sherman stated is because of the way various chakras work within our body. According to this Hindu discipline, there are seven chakras that receive and distribute energy to the body affecting the endocrine and nervous system. The endocrine controls the hormones flow, and the nervous tell us when to relax and take action. When the flow of energy is balanced through the chakras our mind and body operate differently. The asana (yoga postures) balance the ‘chakras’ as a result feeling light, healthy and connected to the surrounding energy.

Isabel Orús, who started practicing yoga eight years ago, said that throughout her three and one-half years of completing yoga philosophy classes at the School of Auto Realization in Ecuador, she learned how to take control of her life.

“I learned breathing techniques to control my emotions which I apply everyday; but mostly important, I understood that during hard times if there is no way to change the circumstances, we are the ones who need to change,” she said.

In other words, yoga is not a sport; its practice has a meaning. It is for everybody that is willing to learn how to get a better lifestyle.

“If you are doing yoga to get toned, you are doing it for the wrong purpose,” said yogi Acosta-Rubio, “Do it to because you want to feel peaceful.”

However, there are certain types of yoga classes that can be taken according to your personality. If you are an athlete, Power Flow Yoga and Ashtanga, as the classes are known, are intense workouts that focus on strength and involve stamina and sweat. But if you want to relax deeply, Gentle Yoga is the appropriate. However, according to Schreiber the best class for beginners is Hatha Yoga. “No one should go out of that class feeling tired,” she said.

The session focuses on breathing, which is vital energy.

People around the medical campus of the university are mostly doctors, nurses or people that go in and out of the hospital with serious concerns. For this reason, the UHealth and Wellness Center at the University of Miami offers the outdoor yoga class to invite people to experience it themselves.

Learning the benefits and pleasures of yoga can help all of them take control of their lives and deal with stress. It is a way of discovering how strong and compassionate people can be if they learn to control their own emotions.

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