Missy gets athletic: Namaste!

Melissa Navarro

Credit: Cornelius

Credit: Cornelius

I’ve known yoga to be one of the most popular classes here at Whitman. It’s always a class that fills up quickly with upperclassmen who use the physical activity as a nice break away from the academic setting. You can tell which students are in yoga based on the mat they’re toting into Sherwood and the fact that they always look a bit more relaxed and refreshed than most students. I’m always in need of relaxation and refreshment, so I wanted in.

On my first day, I was greeted by the very charming Rebecca Thorpe, the sport yoga instructor. Thorpe has been teaching yoga for nine years and emphasizes well-being to her students above anything else.

“I always reference the energy centers or chakras in my classes and I always emphasize mette which means loving kindness to oneself and to others,” Thorpe said. I never thought a physical activity could be so in sync with mental and spiritual health, so I had to see it for myself.

She began the class by asking everyone where a sore part of their body was, as an indicator on what to work on that day. Thorpe also asked us to express our stresses of the week to get it out of the way before clearing our minds.

“Yoga is not a fitness program. It is an eight-limbed philosophy and the physical aspect is only one limb,” Thorpe said.

With that in mind, I dove right in with various stretching positions, but instantly felt that physical aspect when I started reaching for a body part that was too far away. The biggest challenge for me, however, was the breathing pattern.

“Breathe in . . . and breathe out,” Thorpe said to the class, as collective inhales and exhales filled the silence in the room. Thorpe told me that she usually plays music in the background, but she wasn’t able to provide any tunes that day. Unfortunately, the class was left hearing me struggle with concentration on breathing.

With weights in hand, we did several lunges and lifts that worked upper and lower body muscles. I had no idea what a deltoid was until I whispered and asked another student where that was on our bodies. They’re apparently around your shoulders, where I ended up feeling the most sore the next day. The deltoids, biceps, hamstrings and even the glutes were feeling the burn as we held positions for a few seconds. I noticed that with relaxed breathing, these positions didn’t feel like I was holding them forever.

Balancing is another one of my weak points. I found this out by doing a “tree” pose that required me to stand on one leg, with the other tucked at the knee for a good hip stretch. I was glad to be next to a wall because as soon as I closed my eyes my body structure fell apart. As I looked around, I saw that almost everyone had it done, showing a calm and comforting confidence as they held still.

Lastly, we ended with some cooling down drills listening to Thorpe’s voice soothe us into deep breathing and relaxation. I’m pretty sure I met my chakra at that moment.

Due to a slight mishap with class registration last semester, this class was meant to incorporate more exercise equipment suited for sport-like activity. However, Thorpe made the most of the change in classes and stuck with the sport component by including the use of weights and workout balls.

“Sport yoga is really a western hybrid of traditional yoga poses combined with some western fitness techniques,” Thorpe said about the distinction. “Nevertheless, my classes are always infused with the traditional teachings of yoga.”

Thanks to years of cheerleading and gymnastics, basic flexibility is no stranger to me. At least that’s what I thought before going into Sherwood for my first yoga class. Not only does this activity push your flexibility at times, it also challenges your muscle control and concentration.

“I’m a runner and I’ve found that yoga is a great way for me to balance my exercise and keep my whole body in shape,” said senior Kali Stoehr, a student in sport yoga. Stoehr also told me that she comes out of the class feeling “more calm and centered.”

It enlightened me to see how good yoga made me feel physically and mentally. Among all the stresses we go through each day, it helps to have classes like this available for us to balance out a hectic lifestyle with a healthy one.