By Amy Rudolph
As the stress of a new semester continues to build, many students look for an outlet to relieve some of this tension. One of these outlets is the time-honored tradition of yoga practice and mindfulness.
Yoga not only stretches and realigns the body, but it helps to take your mind off the things you can’t control. During yoga, you’re only focused on three things: your body, your breathing, and your instructor’s voice.
Mindfulness is not a new concept and has always been deeply intertwined with yoga. It is all about bringing people’s awareness to the present moment, which is what helps narrow the focus and cut down on stress.
Students looking to practice this philosophy do not need to look farther than Chestertown. The Insight Meditation Community of Chestertown is offering a $25 introductory class on mindfulness and meditation on Sunday afternoons running now until Oct. 15 at the Chester River Friends Meeting House.
Other mindfulness experiences include the flow yoga courses taught by English professor Dr. Kathryn Moncrief at Kent Athletic and Wellness Center. This course “focuses on the alignment and positioning of fundamental yoga poses while connecting the body, mind, and spirit through an awareness of the breath,” according to the Athletic and Wellness Center’s website. Students can purchase a monthly plan from the Center for $75.
Yoga services that exist outside of Chestertown bring a lot more fun to the yoga practice. Some humane societies, such as the one in Carroll County, host yoga adoption events called “Adoption Partner Success,” in which adoptable animals scamper around the room during the class.
Carroll County started with kitten yoga, but some local farms kick it up a notch with goat yoga. In goat yoga, the goats mainly just walk around and eat grass but occasionally they will jump on you or steal your mat.
Students looking to not break the bank but still break down some of their stress can participate in free yoga classes in the Johnson Fitness Center. Beginner’s Yoga runs on Mondays from 4-4:55 p.m. and the Yoga Ongoing Primary Series from 5-6:30 p.m. On Tuesdays, there is the Advanced Ongoing Yoga Series from 8-9:15 a.m. and PiYo, a blend of Pilates and yoga from 5:30-6:15 p.m. Wednesdays offer Easy Flow Yoga from 4-4:55 p.m. and another meeting of the Advanced Series from 5-6:30 p.m. Thursdays round out the yoga intense week with Yoga Morning Practices from 8-9:15 a.m. but these classes are not free and must be paid per class. Those looking to participate in the morning practices can contact the Campus Rec office and talk to Nicholas Moon for further information.
Some students may be wary of practicing yoga in a group setting or just simply not want to go to a class. Now that thousands of videos have been uploaded to YouTube demonstrating proper technique and showing examples of possible sequences to try, Yoga is much more accessible. Yoga With Adriene provides plenty of videos that do just this. Students can bring their phones to different places on campus, such as the campus green or any clear yard space in front of dorms such as Sassafras Hall, Kent House, or the Cullen dorms, to watch videos and try it for themselves.
All that is really necessary is a yoga mat, which can be found at Walmart or on Amazon for about $5. Other than that, students just need baggy clothes, an open mind, and a good set of lungs to work their way towards mindfulness through the art of yoga and meditation.