By Erin Brown, Free Press Sports editor
Homework is piling up, your agenda becomes fuller and fuller, you haven’t had a peaceful night of sleep in who knows how long. Forget getting to the gym after prepping for the three exams you have this week and physically exhausting yourself. Have you ever thought to take on yoga? Yoga is a stress-relieving exercise that works out your mind and body while relieving stress. Yoga is becoming more and more popular, and the opportunities to start yoga are endless.
While USM and the Greater Portland area both have ample resources for students to get themselves into yoga. The most enticing option would probably be the yoga class where you earn credits. RHF 118 is a 1.5 credit course offered by the university both online and in-studio. The in-studio class meets twice a week for an hour.
USM alumni Jennie Foley is one of the teachers for the course. This semester she’s been teaching the in studio version of the class. The class is based 70 percent on movement and 30 percent on the philosophy of yoga. Foley says she loves the philosophy part and her students love it in a way she didn’t expect. For the movement aspect of the course, it is offered at all levels, which starts out pretty basic in the beginning, but as the semester goes on the poses get a little deeper. Foley says she tries to keep it adaptable for all who take it. While a student, Foley had been involved in lots of yoga practices on campus, which is what ultimately led to her become a professor of yoga.
Foley has an inspiring backstory about getting into yoga and training to teach. She got into yoga 16 years ago when she watched a tape of her mother’s of a man in short-shorts on the beach doing yoga. Foley is very open about the trials and tribulations she has gone through in her past couple of years and made her turn to doing and teaching yoga. She began training to teach six years ago, about which she said, “Yoga saved my life and in that realization I knew I needed to teach it to other people.” To this day, even past some of the bigger hardships in her life, she is a firm believer that yoga has tools to heal issues in so many aspects of everyday life: “I do find time and time again, if I find nothing else works yoga is there for me. Struggling with anxiety, chronic pain, or relationships problems, yoga has the tools to fix these.”
Out of the 13 classes a week she does teach, Foley says the course at USM is her favorite to teach for a variety of reasons:. “This is my favorite class, because not only are we doing movements and talk about the philosophy, but I really get to know the students. Because we meet on such a regular basis, I get to know them so much better and can help them build a sustainable practice. The setup is great to get good work done and establish students with such a solid practice that allows them to know enough about yoga to take their knowledge and experience and run with it.”
Foley believes there are many reasons students should practice yoga, especially for the multitude of benefits that accompany the exercise. “Yoga is a life skill,” she said. “Something you can use to manage your life, your emotions, and your health.” Foley believes you can feel the effects right away, as soon as you slow down, start moving and breathing.
“Students don’t self care enough,” Foley says, “You have to force yourself to self care. If you’re getting credit to self care you’ll show up. And my attendance policy is pretty strict, so people show up.” A strict attendance policy is usually the most disliked part of a syllabus, but in this case, it is the most beneficial for your sanity.
Yoga is so different than any other form of exercise and is so much bigger than just an exercise class. Foley believes that everyone will take something from yoga. There are so many styles that if there is one that doesn’t work for you, there’s something else out there.
RHF 118 course taught by Foley is offered in both fall and spring semesters. If the 1.5 credit course doesn’t fit into your schedule, there are far more resources on campus and around Greater Portland to get yourself involved in yoga. Classes are offered at the Sullivan Recreation and Fitness Complex, including a class free to all students Tuesday nights from 6:15-7:15 p.m. in the multipurpose room.