U students melt away stress with yoga

by Amber Schadewald

While some people enjoy the slow-paced traditional forms of yoga, others combine the tree pose with 5-pound weights and Justin Timberlake to stay in shape.

Yoga sculpt combines traditional yoga poses with weight training and dance music, all in the style of a fast-paced aerobics class.

The class was designed in Denver and has been taught at CorePower Yoga studios in Minnesota for almost a year. Jennifer Hauge, 42, is one of the yoga sculpt instructors at the studio on Washington Avenue Southeast.

She said adding weights to yoga just makes sense.

“You’re getting two things done at once,” Hauge said. “It’s a combination of mind and body.”

The beginning of the class is similar to other types of yoga, concentrating on breathing and slow stretches. Hauge told the noon class Thursday to “let your morning go” as they transitioned from one pose to another with a “swan dive,” gracefully bending over and touching the floor.

Then the music sped up, the bass was pumping and it was time get to work. Students chose among a variety of 3- to 10-pound weights, and Hauge energetically directed the class between moves and reps.

“I like to do a little something for everybody,” she shouted to the class. “And some of us wanna burn calories.”

The students’ faces cringed while they pushed their bodies through a series of lunges, jumps and reaches while, at the same time, half of the room smiled through their sweat.

“Did I say four more?” Hauge said to the class with a smirk. “I meant eight.”

Biochemistry and genetics senior Chelsea Tieszen said she takes the class because she loves challenging her body’s limits.

“You may hate your teacher during the class because you just want to relax,” she said. “But I love the way I feel after the class; it’s a complete release.”

Finding a minute to relax might seem difficult for some students this time of year with midterm tests and assignment due dates to manage.

Dr. Gary Christenson, director of mental health at Boynton Health Service, said students generally have multiple stressors and the challenge is finding a balance. College itself is a stressor, he said.

“Stress is the input on the equation,” he said. “The output can be anxiety, changes in appetite, poor concentration, loss of sleep and clinical depression.”

Christenson said exercise like yoga is a great way to prevent stress from becoming damaging to one’s health, helping lower general levels of stress and allowing time to “get away.”

Tieszen said that when she’s having a stressful week, exercise is a great remedy.

“I’ve always hated running, so I’ve made yoga my main form of exercise,” she said.

Although she enjoys the yoga sculpt class, Tieszen said she still prefers the more traditional forms of yoga. Concentrating on alignment and technique make her feel more in tune with her body, she said, and the fast pace of sculpt sacrifices that mental challenge.

Jeanne Bain, a Boynton yoga instructor, teaches free traditional hatha yoga classes for University students, faculty and staff members. She said although her class is spiritual, not fitness-based, she appreciates all forms of the practice.

“Whatever gets people exposed to yoga is a good thing,” she said.

Bain teaches a couple times a week and said the class attendance depends on how stressed people are. More people show up in the beginning of the year and during finals week.

About 25 people participated in the Friday lunch hour class at Boynton, slowly stretching in silence while the leaves rustled in the wind outside. Many of the students in the class had never tried yoga before.

Hauge said beginners are welcome in yoga sculpt as well, as long as they’re prepared to work hard. CorePower yoga offers the first week of classes free and a student discount thereafter.

Marketing and entrepreneurship junior Katelyn Benson said although the class is pricey for her student budget, the way it makes her body and mind feel is worth the money.

“Once you try (yoga sculpt), you’re hooked,” she said.