New year, new yoga

New year, new yoga

Photo Credits: NICKI PADAR / AGGIE FILE

A New Year’s resolution that can be achieved without leaving the house

As January reaches its halfway point, students may still be looking to start the decade with a new hobby or set of goals. One ambitious yet popular goal for the new year revolves around getting active, even from one’s own bedroom. That activity? Yoga.

Originating in ancient India, yoga is a popular form of exercise that involves the body, mind and spirit. Those who teach and practice yoga say the practice can be healing in both a physical and mental sense.

For third-year Chicano/a studies major Juli Perez, yoga did exactly that.

“Yoga has always really challenged me […] and my relationship to my body in a way I never thought would happen,” Perez said.

Perez said her interest in yoga began as a child, though her commitment to the practice was on and off. Now, Perez and a few of her friends have committed themselves to “30 Days of Yoga With Adriene,” a trend where viewers can watch Adriene Mishler, a.k.a. “Yoga With Adriene,” on YouTube, and practice yoga everyday throughout the month of January.

Perez isn’t the only one dedicating a portion of her day to Mishler’s home-yoga videos — the acclaimed yoga instructor has earned over 5.5 million YouTube subscribers by uploading weekly videos of her yoga exercises for others to follow along to. Each January since 2012, “Yoga With Adriene” has uploaded a month-long “yoga journey” where she invites viewers to participate in practicing yoga daily for the entire month. This year, Mishler introduces “Home,” where she encourages participants to “find what feels good” while Mishler follows along with them on their journey. 

“It is not a challenge,” Mishler said in her invitation to viewers for January 2020. “I like to think of it as a story, a ride, and we’re gonna write it and ride it together.”

What sets “Yoga With Adriene” apart? For one thing, Mishler’s yoga is free and is accessible outside of an expensive yoga studio. Additionally, beginners can follow along at their own pace and need not feel intimidated by more experienced peers in a yoga studio.

In a recent interview with the Today Show, Mishler addressed her connection to her followers through yoga.

“The spirit of ‘Yoga With Adriene’ is like, ‘I’m in my little corner of the world choosing to take care of myself, my real self, and whatever I’m showing up with today,’” Mishler said. “But also, I’m here with you.”

Perez said getting back into yoga with Mishler’s videos has opened up her year for more time to dedicate to self-growth and positivity.

“For me, it’s just taking 30 minutes of my day, for myself,” Perez said. “It’s been a really good transition into 2020 because it’s reminding me with the new year to make time for myself, make space for myself and really listen to what my body has to say.”

Olivia Krieger, a PhD candidate in the psychology department, said yoga improved her health, both physically and mentally. Krieger teaches yoga at the ARC and said she wants her students to achieve the same healing she did. And, thanks to her studies in cognitive neuroscience, Krieger understands the rewards yoga can offer the mind.

“Yoga helps us feel grounded, helps us take on challenges, releases anxiety, increases our focus and makes us feel happier,” Krieger said. “Anyone looking to improve their body and their mind should consider yoga as part of their New Year’s resolution.”

Krieger also said those hesitant to try shouldn’t be discouraged.

“There’s a common misconception that you need to be flexible to do yoga, but that’s not true,” she said. “You don’t need to be able to touch your toes. It will probably be challenging your first few times, but hang in there. It’s well worth the effort to keep coming back!”

In Krieger’s experience, yoga — whether at home or in a classroom setting — can build strength and create flexibility beyond what she experienced lifting weights at the gym.

“Not only did it challenge my strength, but it offered time to focus on balance and flexibility and it calmed my mind and helped me focus,” Krieger said.

At the end of the day, yoga has been deemed a challenging and inspiring exercise into recognizing one’s own physical, spiritual and mental strength. As Krieger, Perez and Mishler see it, yoga might be the way to start off 2020 on the right foot.  

“Yoga might be very different than what you imagine,” Krieger said. “And you’ll never know if you don’t try it out!” 

Written by: Alana Wikkeling — features@theaggie.org