Jay Smitka
The Navigator

With the new school year upon us many students may be feeling stressed out.The shift from summer life back into the academic grind can be a difficult one for many of us and it is extremely important for students to find a healthy way to relax and relieve some of this tension.One way that more and more people are choosing to relax is through the practice of yoga.I took some time to sit down with Dennis Kalack, a student at local yoga studio Moksha Yoga and discuss with him the benefits of yoga, what makes yoga different from other exercise routines and how incorporating yoga into your routine can help you achieve a more balanced and peaceful student life.

Dennis first became involved with yoga seven years ago, through a friend.“I just started trying it out” Dennis says, “I was trying to find a method to develop a more calm mental state.”This is a goal most students will certainly relate to, what with the pressure of essays and exams burdening us each and every semester a calmer mental state would certainly come as a powerful asset.

Before one can begin to experience the benefits of including yoga in their routine Dennis advises beginners to let go of “all your expectations of it and your assumptions of what it is, especially for males” who Dennis warns can tend to view yoga as “a bunch of hippie mumbo jumbo.”

But once beginners shed their negative assumptions of what yoga is Dennis advises that most people begin to feel positive results extremely quickly.

Many people think of yoga as just stretching, which is accurate to some degree but this is not the stretching that we all learned in our high school gym class.Typical athletic stretching is done primarily to prevent injury during other forms of exercise, the movements are relatively standard (lift your leg behind you etc.) and they are not held for a very long duration of time.Alternatively in yoga one encounters a serious of postures that are held for a much longer period of time, there is a much wider range of movements and the goal reaches far beyond injury prevention to calming ones mind, synchronizing your breath and even meditation.“Yoga involves all three” Dennis says, “your spirit, body and mind.”

Yoga is “very low impact” Dennis says and may be less intimidating for many people to approach then other more intensive forms of exercise like weight training.One of the benefits of this type of exercise is that it develops a mental awareness of what is going on as yoga activates micro muscles all over the body.“You can take the time to feel every little part of your muscles and body stretching” Dennis says.And unlike other forms of exercise Dennis reminds us that yoga is “never a competition.”

Some benefits that Students can expect if they choose to incorporate yoga into their daily routine according to Dennis are “a calmer demeanour, reduction of stress, better understanding of your breath and a good synch of body and mind.”

Dennis says that before yoga he himself suffered from “severe allergies and exercise induced anaphylaxia” but that yoga helped to “slow everything down, it allowed me to understand what’s going on inside my body, and made me a happier person.”

Students at VIU certainly might benefit from the relaxation and mental awareness one can achieve through yoga but Dennis would suggest it to anybody who has a “desire to better themselves mentally, physically and spiritually” and he encourages those interested to “try it out, drop your expectations.”

Moksha Yoga has two studios located in Nanaimo, one studio can be found at #103-1808 Bowen Rd, and their second studio can be found at #100-5271 Rutherford Rd.Moksha offers a variety of classes for beginners to intermediate levels and even includes hot yoga.

For more information on Moksha Yoga and all their services visit them online at www.nanaimo.mokshayoga.ca or contact them via e-mail at info@mokshayogananaimo.com.