Yoga Benefits Students at the University of Maryland Physically and Mentally

By Kerrigan Stern
Editor in Chief

For the anxious group of participants, aspiring instructors, current trainers and many more, yoga at the University of Maryland is both an enjoyable and restorative pastime.

This university is home to several yoga studios, and these studios are held in student gyms or are privately owned. With all of these locations, students have had the opportunity to become more in tune with yoga, both as teachers and pupils.

Senior dietetics major Erin Balkam, a long-time yoga advocate, is able to practice yoga both on her own and through the classes she teaches.

“I teach yoga through UMD Recwell as a group fitness instructor,” Balkam said. “In addition, I teach yoga at the Landmark apartment complex for its residents and through Numi Yoga in College Park.”

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Elifnaz Caliskan meditates as a part of yoga to help clear her mind. Photo by Soula Christou.

Many of these classes come at no cost to participants. If there is a fee for Balkam or any instructor’s services, the cost is minimal.

“UMD students and faculty can access any group fitness classes for free… A day pass to come to Eppley or any Recwell location is $7 and a guest [can] utilize the services of group fitness classes,” she said. “As for Landmark residents, there is no extra costs for taking yoga classes there.”

“Numi [Yoga] is a newer small business tailored to a more concentrated yoga community in the college park area, including UMD students, faculty and College Park residents,” Balkam said. “There are various packages and programs offered through Numi that any student could tailor to their financial ability. All of those costs are found on Numi’s website.”

Not only is yoga beneficial physically, but it is also helpful emotionally and spiritually.

Senior communications major, Leah Colleluori, has experienced all of these positives first-hand.

“When I first started yoga for exercise, around age 15, I was more focused on the physical benefits of the practice than the mental/emotional side,” Colleluori said. “[But] as I began feeling more comfortable in my physical process, I opened up my mind more to the mental/emotional side and actually put effort into learning about the history of the practice of yoga and meditation. Now, I can see the changes in my lifestyle that have sprouted from my yoga practice, specifically mindfulness and gratitude.”

The benefits from yoga and the teachings from instructors such as Balkam have inspired some students to become a trainer themselves. Colleluori is one such student.

After practicing yoga for so long, she has decided to become certified as a trainer this summer.

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Elifnaz Caliskan practices a tree pose, with her foot on her thigh and her hands pressed together. Photo by Soula Christou.

“I really like spreading the knowledge to whoever will listen, basically teaching my friends and family different techniques to clear their minds and positively affect their energies,” Colleluori said.

Overall, yoga is a valuable pastime for university students. Whether you need to simply unwind and relax with a yoga class or join in a yoga party with sober/drunk yoga like Balkam has enjoyed, yoga is a great way to connect not only to yourself, but to the people all around you as well.

“Practicing helps me filter through my thoughts, anxieties and any other areas in my mind that could contribute to negative stress,” Balkam said. “I have learned how to think productively and more clearly in times of conflict – whether it be related to school, work, family or friends.”

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