Just Breathe: Yoga Becomes Popular For Staples Students

Cobra+Pose+in+action

Cobra Pose in action

By Andrea Frost ’15, Staff Writer

It’s recently become trendy for Staples students to take a break from schoolwork, take a well-needed deep breath and enjoy a yoga class.

“I really like yoga,” Julia Tziolis ’13 said. “Not only is it a very relaxing way to exercise, but you’re also constantly pushing yourself to do the difficult moves to the best of your ability.”

Tziolis and many other Staples students take classes at Kaia Yoga, a wellness center on 1200 Post Road East in Westport. Although Kaia Yoga has been in Fairfield County since 2006, according to the center’s founder, Gina Norman, the number of teenagers in each yoga class has increased rather recently.

“Yoga is a great stress reliever, and teenagers are at a time in life when there is a lot of change and shifting expectations,” Norman said. “It’s also a great complement to the kinds of sports and activities that teenagers often do.”

While most other types of exercise classes begin with loud music and aerobic warm-ups, yoga isn’t quite the same.

“A regular class of yoga is very calm,” said Lauren Exposito ’15, who said she does yoga one to three times a week at Kaia Yoga. “You walk in, and everyone is quiet and mentally preparing for the class.”

The class begins with some breathing exercises and chanting of the sacred syllable “om,” which is considered to be the first sound of creation. The class then goes through several different yoga poses.

Some of the many common poses include the Downward Dog (when the body is in an inverted V-shape with feet hip-length apart), Cobra (when the body releases the tops of the feet to the  floor and lifts the chest up) and Mountain Pose (when the body stands in a line with feet together and palms facing each other with arms straight up).

“In yoga, you’re using muscles that you would never use when going to the gym and working out,” Tziolis said. “You’re going into different poses that work all parts of your body, so you get a complete workout that is challenging.”

Yoga class typically ends with a pose known as Savasana, which literally translates to “corpse pose.” In this pose, everyone in the class lies down and relaxes until the instructor closes the class with a final chanting of “om.”

“Some of the benefits of doing yoga includes increasing your flexibility, relieving stress and setting new goals for yourself as you progress through the different levels of yoga,” Exposito said.

As one progresses to higher levels in yoga, classes may become more challenging due to changes in poses, equipment or even temperature of the room. In hot yoga, the class may consist of similarly challenging poses, but the temperature is raised to a higher degree, so it makes it an even more intense workout.

Many yoga centers offer classes for people of all different abilities.

Kaia Yoga, for example, has 100 classes a week that vary greatly in focus. Classes may concentrate on breathing and holding poses, working with blocks and big pillows or hot yoga.

In addition, Kaia Yoga also offers classes to people of all ages—anyone from newborns (yes, they have that) to 90 years old.

“We believe that if you can breathe, you can practice yoga and encourage everyone at every stage of life to join us,” Norman said.

Although Tziolis initially expected yoga class to be dull and full of boring breathing exercises, she said she’s learned that it can be fun.

Exposito agrees, adding that everyone should jump in on the trend and participate in yoga to become more relaxed and healthy.

“A lot of people who aren’t flexible don’t think they would be able to do yoga,” Exposito said. “But, if you go constantly, you’ll be surprised at how flexible you can really be.”