Yoga has become a sociocultural wellness phenomenon in America. (Courtesy of Carl Barcelo)

Yoga stretches its popularity amid pandemic

By Juan Godinez, March 16, 2021

Yoga has seen a stretch in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic as many people stuck at home finally have the opportunity to try out the practice with more flexible schedules.

Yoga, a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, is widely practiced for its several health benefits and soothing qualities, leading to many around the world and within the campus community to unfurl their mats and give the practice a try.

For Andra Istrate, a yoga teacher and group fitness instructor for ASI, yoga has served as a tool for increasing self-awareness and personal growth as well as a bridge between discipline and playfulness.

“Above all, as a teacher, yoga has enabled me to support and inspire others to live healthier and happier lives and become the best versions of themselves,” said Istrate.

Yoga has become a sociocultural wellness phenomenon in America. (Courtesy of Carl Barcelo)

The pandemic and its lockdown measures have flipped the work-life balance upside down for many. With enormous pressure on people’s physical and mental wellbeing, yoga can help them deal with the uncertainty and isolation, as well as maintain their physique.

“I think yoga has been trendy during quarantine because it serves as a physical practice and as a valuable tool for mental health during these challenging times,” said Istrate.

There’s been an undeniable growing importance of yoga to pandemic era wellbeing, evidenced by the increasing number of practitioners turning to online yoga classes. Yoga’s popularity may have begun long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but more people trying to relax and meditate most likely isn’t a coincidence. According to Globe Newswire, the demand for yoga equipment skyrocketed by 154% during the pandemic.

First-year business student, Oliviana Ostos, has been practicing yoga the past two years ever since her best friend took her to a class and has transitioned to virtual classes.

“This school year has been stressful enough as it is, but without my weekly yoga classes online, I might have lost it already,” said Ostos. “Finding that little bit of quiet time in the week where I can be loose and just let go has truly been my saving grace.”

Matt Rodriguez, a kinesiology professor and yoga instructor for the Kinesiology & Health Promotion Club, attributes yoga stretches with helping him get through several nagging injuries back when he used to compete in the sport of Olympic weightlifting.

The pandemic turned work-life upside down for many, but yoga has been a tremendous tool for combating uncertainty and isolation. (Courtesy of Damir Spani)

“There are three exercise types in yoga that benefit physical health,” explained Rodriguez. “Dynamic and static stretching, isometric holding and resistance training. These three main modes of exercise prevalent within a yoga program will increase traits associated with overall strength, mobility, flexibility and range of motion.”

Yoga’s success in the United States is in many ways a perfect reflection of the time. Yoga is taught to be inclusive to everyone regardless of their religious or spiritual background. It has managed to stay in touch with its principles of living a righteous and simple life, yet continuously evolves over time.

“I recommend that people try yoga out at least once in their lives,” said Rodriguez. “It’s an opportunity to examine your life and mind from the first-person experience. The quality of your mind determines how you experience and go through life. It makes sense to nurture our minds so that we can experience this life in the best possible way.”

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