Students indulge in the benefits of yoga


Claire Grunewald

Senior Faith Ensor participates in a heated vinyasa class at Razz Yoga on a Saturday morning. Ensor does yoga as often as once a week to help her relax.

As you walk through the hallway, on an ordinary Friday, something odd grabs your attention. You glance over and see a classroom full of students in a lunge position, arms stretched out, with a focused look in their eyes.

Do not be alarmed, it’s just English teacher Christine Zurkowski’s class doing the yoga maneuver known as the warrior position. This is what Zurkowski calls, “Free your mind Fridays.”  

Zurkowski has her students perform yoga to help with creativity and nerves. “I really didn’t think that the students would like it that much. When I got surveyed, many of their comments were that they really enjoyed being exposed to a little bit of yoga and it did help them,” Zurkowski said.

High school students encounter stress and pressure on a daily basis. Whether it’s aching muscles from sports or late nights spent studying for tests, students stay busy throughout the year.Students work to maintain their grades, excel in sports, and keep up with their friends and social life. The question is: do students allow the time to take a minute and breathe?

Yoga provides an option for de-stressing that is beneficial for both mental and physical health. According to Gaiam, a corporation that provides yoga essentials and videos, “Yoga can change your physical and mental capacity quickly, while preparing the mind and body for long-term health.”

According to Yoga Journal, there are countless advantages to regularly participating in yoga. Mentally, yoga makes you happier, helps you focus, gives you peace of mind, and boosts self-esteem. Physically, yoga improves flexibility, builds muscle strength, perfects posture, and increases blood flow.

For many of these reasons, students make the decision to participate in the practicing of yoga. “[I do yoga] to loosen up my muscles and increase flexibility too. If I had a stressful day, it really helps me to relax and calm down,” junior Alexa Martinez said.

Yoga also offers many variations in practice and style.

Hatha yoga is a common form of yoga for beginners. It focuses on breathing, holding your pose, and quieting your mind. These techniques are the basic building blocks of yoga itself.

Sophomore Paige Alban practices hatha yoga at The Bel Air Athletic Club. “I’m less stressed out and I feel accomplished after yoga classes,” Alban said.

For those who are more advanced, vinyasa yoga is a practice of yoga that is a step up in difficulty from hatha yoga. It is quicker paced and focuses more on the fitness aspects of yoga. According to Hellawella, a website devoted to giving advice on a healthier lifestyle, “The poses are linked together in a series of movements that are synchronized with the breath.”

Bikram yoga is another popular form of yoga commonly referred to as “hot yoga.” This style is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees. A series of 26 poses are performed under hot conditions to help increase flexibility and prevent injuries.  

Junior Taiylor Kriss practices bikram yoga at Yoga Centric in Bel Air, Maryland, two times a week. According to Kriss, “[Bikram yoga has] helped my movement and previous injuries I’ve had, and it’s a stress reliever.”

Behind every successful yoga class, there is a teacher. Heather Rasmussen is a yoga instructor and the owner of Razz Yoga in Phoenix, Maryland. Rasmussen, the mother of junior Zack Rasmussen and senior Alex Rasmussen, opened her studio with the intention of allowing people to explore yoga in an environment they feel comfortable in.

“It was my intention to provide a space for others to ‘come as you are’ and explore yoga in a warm, welcoming environment, without needing to drive too far from home,” Rasmussen said.

Because of its benefits, yoga is utilized by the varsity women’s lacrosse team. Coach Abigail Swift had the team do yoga last year  for team bonding. The team usually takes a yoga class when they have multiple games in a row.

According to Swift, the activity helped the team perform better. “[When I was] in college, my team did it, I do it now. It is a good thing for athletes, and it benefits them a lot,” Swift said.

“I encourage others to try it because of the sense of peace and well-being yoga brings. Yoga is accessible to everybody. If you can breathe, you can do yoga,” Rasmussen said.

Erin McCloskey is a Copy Editor for The Patroit and