I took my first yoga class during my first year at Keene State College; I remember being intimidated by it and sore for the following two days. It took a few weeks before my roommate was able to talk me into going to another class with her, and I only agreed to because she promised it would be an easier class.

It wasn’t until this class that I realized there are endless ways to teach and practice yoga.

During sophomore year, I started taking yoga a little bit more seriously. I was going to a few classes a week and I had also joined the KSC yoga club on campus. Not only did my involvement with the club help me develop a deep love for yoga, it also enabled me to develop some of my strongest friendships at KSC.

Through attending the classes offered in the gym, going to yoga club and developing my own practice at home, my love for yoga has done nothing but grow over the past few years.

Through my practice, I have become aware of the many personal benefits yoga has to offer. Between stress relief, promoting better sleep, helping with a back injury and teaching me a great deal about self-love, I truly believe yoga has made a major positive impact on my life.

Every time I roll out my mat, I feel better. Yoga is such an individualized practice, making it easy to take time to love and take care of my body.

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

In an article produced by the Harvard Medical School, a German study from 2005 looked at 24 women who described themselves as “emotionally distressed.” After these women took two yoga classes a week for three months, they reported improvements in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, energy, fatigue and overall well-being.

Within the group, the depression scores improved by 50 percent, anxiety scores by 30 percent and overall well-being scores by 65 percent. Improvements with headaches, back pain and poor sleep quality were also reported.

Similar to the women in the study, I have found yoga to be extremely beneficial. Even though yoga is an individualized practice, it provides a community; a safe space where people can focus on listening to their bodies’ needs.

Whether you want a workout that will have you pouring sweat or a relaxed work out that stretches out your muscles, there is always a yoga class option that can fit your desires.

According to the American Yoga Association, “Yoga helps you to access an inner strength that allows you to face the sometimes-overwhelming fears, frustrations and challenges of everyday life.”

As co-president of yoga club, I am constantly encouraging people to come to our meetings on Monday nights from 8:00-9:30 p.m. Our club brings in different teachers every week, which provides students access to different types of yoga as well as different teaching styles.

All of our teachers provide multiple levels of difficulty during the practice, which allows the class to be fit for beginners or long-time practicing yogis.

This year we are incorporating discussions on the history of yoga, health benefits and other topics relating to yoga. So far this year, we have worked with four amazing teachers, and, for the month of October, we have a different teacher coming each week.

Already, we have worked on gentle flows, inversion (headstand) practices, Thai Massage and rocket yoga. We’re planning on introducing the use of essential oils and meditation and we hope to plan monthly activities for club members to participate in.

We have already taken a group hike where we practiced yoga on the top of the mountain and we recently went apple picking and did some yoga at Alysons Orchard in Walpole.

Maggie Mason can be contacted at mmason@kscequinox.com

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