Why do people do yoga?

Grace Blaisdell, Staff Writer

As someone who has participated in cheerleading for seven years, I always thought that yoga was all about flexibility and that it was a very easy activity for anyone to participate in. However, after trying it out this week, I realized that yoga requires much more than just flexibility. Additionally, it requires balance, control and focus. I also came to the understanding that yoga has multiple benefits to the body physically but also mentally as well.

When deciding on how I should tackle this task of trying something new for a week, I knew I wanted to try out yoga. As I was searching for videos to provide instruction to me, I noticed that yoga has multiple practices depending on what the participant wants to use it for. One can use it to ease their mind or they can use it as a means to lose weight.

“Yoga aims to connect the mind and body through the synergy of breath and movement. There are many different types of yoga (vinyasa, hatha, yin, nidra, etc.) that have niche focuses. The asanas (poses) themselves have their own physical benefits as well as spiritual,” said Miranda Moscatelli. Moscatelli graduated from Hollis-Brookline High School in 2017 where she started to explore the mind and body connection through yoga at the age of 17.

For me personally, May has been a very busy month. As this is my last full month of high school, most of my time and energy goes to schoolwork. I do not want to procrastinate any assignments that will further stress me out. Throughout the course of this yoga experience, I have felt much more relaxed despite a very busy month. “By focusing on our breathing patterns; we are activating our parasympathetic nervous system which serves to calm down our body’s “flight or flight” response in our sympathetic nervous system. So many things in our daily life kick our sympathetic nervous system into high gear and by using yoga, we can consciously regulate our parasympathetic nervous system,” explained Rebecca Balfour, a psychology teacher at Hollis-Brookline High School.

I always thought that yoga required one to be decently flexible. However, I have come to the realization that this is not necessary in order to be successful with yoga. Yoga also involves control, posture, balance and focus in order to really get the benefit of the practice. I personally don’t have the best balance. After finishing my yoga experience, I felt that this is something I could definitely do in order to improve my balance in the future and create essentially a yoga routine specifically designed to improve my balancing skills. “Yoga is great for recovery, injury prevention, tension reducer (lowers stress). It also helps build strength and balance,” said Tracy Gray,a physical education teacher at Hollis-Brookline High School.

This year, Gray also has her students participate in restorative yoga during class and they have had “Flexible Fridays” throughout the year. “Many schools are implementing yoga classes into the school curriculum. Those schools are seeing drops in student disciplinary behavior and decreases in mental health issues. Some classes here at HB implement mindful meditative moments at the start of class. I have personally witnessed the benefit and positive impact of taking just a few minutes of class time for this practice,” said Balfour. Yoga’s overall impact when it comes to easing the mind and providing relief has proven to be beneficial even in an academic environment.

After this experience, I definitely may continue yoga and create a routine for when I begin college. College is going to be a brand new chapter in my life, so I am sure I am going to need some relaxation to prevent any stress from being in a new environment and being around a bunch of brand new faces. Within this past week, I certainly felt more at ease and relaxed than I typically do. It was a very refreshing experience, and I hope lots of people will try out in the future.