By Tomas Palmieri
If you are seeking a time to decompress from life’s daily stressors, look no further than the After Hours Activities (AHA) yoga program. The program takes place after school on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:40 p.m. in room SPC 3. Mehrabi Masihi guides attendees through various physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation.
New participants are always welcome to join the program as practicing yoga with others is both encouraging and creates a sense of community.
“Apart from the obvious, which is the practice of yoga, I enjoy practicing with other people,” Mehrabi said. “I enjoy the challenge of giving precise cues and lesson planning to combine the class opening, warm-up, peak, and cool-down poses.”
Yoga and mindfulness found in the AHA yoga program can provide a multitude of positive benefits both mentally and physically. What many know or have at least heard is that yoga allows those who partake in it to reduce stress. In order to reduce stress, yoga utilizes mindfulness to increase one’s self-awareness, allowing them to think and feel more in the present moment.
Becoming more aware of your present self allows you to better understand and interpret the emotions you are currently experiencing. When one becomes more aware of these emotions, it is much easier to maximize positive emotions while coping by not over focusing on the negative emotions. In turn, this understanding of emotions allows participants to reduce their stress and anxieties through the mindfulness employed during the practice of yoga.
Another prime asset of yoga can be an increase in concentration. Yoga seeks to promote concentration through several postures that help blood circulate to the brain. When blood is better circulated to the brain, that means the brain receives more oxygen, leading to increased alertness, awareness, and memory, which are aspects that make up concentration.
“The AHA yoga program provides a calm and safe environment for every student who participates in the activity,” freshman Mariam Vardanyan said. “It helps students to find themselves and comes with positive outcomes, such as managing stress, mental health, and mindfulness. The AHA yoga program also assuages feelings and thoughts that are making me mentally worn out and tired.”
Along with mental benefits, practicing mindful yoga can also result in physical advantages. Increased flexibility comes with common practice due to many of the postures requiring stretching of certain muscles and lung capacity can be improved due to the deep breathing techniques that are a part of each and every yoga session. Better balance can be fostered by many of the positions requiring attention to one’s alignment and movement.
Yoga was originally a spiritual practice deeply rooted in Indian philosophy and culture. As it has become more popularized in the West, yoga has become a way to promote physical and mental well-being while still keeping its cultural roots seen in postures and breathing techniques.
AHA yoga is always looking for more students to share its mindful techniques and benefits with. It is a kind and welcoming environment for anyone who may be interested in the practice of yoga so make sure to stop by.