Alexander Novoa | The Poly Post

ASI hosts ‘Yoga for a Healthy Back’ session at the BRIC

By Alexander Novoa, March 14, 2023

As midterms approach, Cal Poly Pomona students unwind and recharge by engaging in fun activities and events on campus.

ASI hosted the Yoga for a Healthy Back session during U-Hour at the BRIC March 9 to help CPP students unload some stress and help strengthen their backs. Yoga instructor Andra Istrate led the session using different yoga poses and breathing techniques.

Yoga is a widespread practice with mental and physical benefits like reducing anxiety levels and helping improve flexibility. Strengthening these muscles can help support the spine and reduce the risk of back injury.

“I have seen so many people in my years of teaching transform not only physically but mentally, dealing with stress, anxiety, sleep disorders, eating disorders and relationships,” said Istrate. “I think yoga is one of the best tools for self-awareness.”

Yoga incorporates meditation and breathing techniques to enhance self-awareness essential to personal growth and development.

Istrate has been practicing yoga for over 25 years and teaches classes during the week at the BRIC. Like her classes, the Yoga for a Healthy Back session was open to CPP students of all experience levels.

Istrate asked students to focus on breathing and body sensations throughout the session. Yoga can help increase mindfulness by learning to observe and become aware of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Public Relations student Kirsten Zesati mentioned how the importance of breathing techniques helped her stay calm.

“You are really in your own thoughts when you are breathing in and out, and it’s a time to relax and focus on yourself and not worry about school or work. So, trying to actively be in the mind space of being peaceful was fun,” said Zesati.

Controlled breathing in yoga helps calm the mind allowing more oxygen to enter the body. It is an effective way to help maintain balance and focus.

ASI helps students by providing them with many events that can be found through the ASI Portal. Holding events on campus can be a great way to support students’ health and well-being and promote a positive campus culture by allowing students to connect with each other, engage in physical activity and learn new skills.

First-year geology student Sasha Lang shared how she found out about the session by following the online ASI event calendar.

“I see the yoga classes and try to go when I can,” said Lang. “It’s the best way on campus to calm down, especially between classes.”

ASI provided students participating in the session with equipment including mats, blocks and straps. The yoga blocks and straps helped release the tension in the back muscles and support and deepen the stretch allowing students to work towards the full expression of each yoga pose.

According to Istrate, all yoga poses she teaches in her classes target the back area.

“Whether you are using your legs or arms, there is a connection,” said Istrate. “Even just a breath, say you are sitting and you meditate, it works on your back and the structure of your spine.”

The session underwent exploring different yoga poses, some harder than others. Istrate scanned the room, helping students struggling and provided various options allowing students to work on their poses comfortably. The soothing music in the background added a layer of relaxation, creating a warmer and more open environment.

At the end of the event, students appeared to be more relaxed as they learned to use proper breathing techniques. They bowed down, honoring themselves and their practice, and Istrate thanked everyone for participating.

Zesati shared some advice for students interested in taking a yoga class for the first time.

“I’m a big advocate for using all the resources on campus, so if you have time to take a yoga class, I would recommend it,” said Zesati. “I think it’s great for people to have personal ‘me’ time. If you can take it, take it. It’s a free opportunity.”

ASI hosts different yoga classes and other free events every week. Students looking to take a break from school can find more information on the ASI website.

Feature image courtesy of Alexander Novoa

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