By Nicola Wills
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 9 of VARSITY News.
In Sanskrit the word ‘yoga’ simply refers to any form of union or connection. This could mean different things to different people. But for me, yoga is all about the connection of my mind and my body, and it is how I take time to honour and nurture my emotions. Often the world becomes so overwhelming and it is easier to ignore and push away how we are really feeling. However, through yoga I have truly learnt that no emotion is a bad emotion, and feeling the whole range in their entirety is important for true self care.
To be honest, I thought it was all a bit of mumbo jumbo when my mom suggested me starting yoga. But after an injury that meant that I was out of running for a while, I decided to give it a go. After really trying it out properly – no, going once or twice doesn’t count! – I have learnt so much about myself and about what makes me tick. Yoga gave me the space to think about things and gain understanding into the many complexities of myself, most of which I still haven’t figured out! Not only can yoga provide mental wellbeing, it also can have a huge physical benefit. This of course depends on the type of yoga you are going for, some will leave you gasping for air (heated vinyasa) while others make you want to fall asleep (restorative). But in any class the most important thing you learn is breath control, which works wonders when you need to calm down in any stressful situation (before a test or exam I always turn to few techniques I have learnt).
You might be afraid to start, or intimidated by all the cool things that other people can do, but don’t be. The truth of the matter is that nobody is watching you or nobody really cares if you look like an absolute tit. In terms of getting started, your best bet would be to try a free class at the gym, find a willing yoga friend who can teach you some basic moves, or browse the hundreds of resources on Youtube in the comfort of your bedroom. The popular channel Yoga with Adriene is a good place to start if you are a beginner looking to start an at home yoga practice. There are also a lot of yoga studios around Cape Town that offer introduction specials or freebies, so capitalise on that – classes are where you really do learn a lot and meet some groovy yogi friends!
You could also make the commitment to become a member of societies such as Smile UCT (which focuses on mindfulness through yoga, meditation and service) or the Spirituality, Philosophy and Yoga Society to learn more about yoga with other students and have the convenience of the on campus location.