TPHS students find their zen through yoga

Leg up and hands together. Center energy. Forward fold then bend over and sway. Relax. Touch the ground and walk out to downward dog. Three-legged dog. Breathe. That is how Chloe Tahmasebi (11) starts her day, doing her yoga routine for 15 minutes in her living room, as she has done almost every morning for the past few months.
Tahmasebi is one of the many people around the world who practice yoga, an ancient activity with origins that can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, according to Google Arts & Culture. Yoga has roots in religion and as a spiritual practice, but today, people have a variety of uses for it.
Marissa Gaut (12) practices yoga in part for its physical benefits, using it as a way to stretch after her cross country and track practice.
“Physically, [yoga is] really good at helping loosen up my muscles, and there’s a lot of stability and strength that goes into it — nothing too intense but a lot of good core stability and balance, and all of that helps my sport,” Gaut said.
Sarah Vita, a yoga instructor at Sol Counseling and Wellness Studio, agrees that yoga is physically beneficial.
“It can increase flexibility. It can release tension, and it can protect you from future injury,” Vita said. “It can improve your overall respiratory system and energy and also overall strength and toning of the body.”
Tahmasebi also noted the physical value of yoga with its ability to “activate every single point in your body and just make it one harmonious thing.”
Though Tahmasebi began practicing yoga everyday during the summer, she has been familiar with its virtues for almost her whole life.
“My mom has always done yoga, so I feel like I’ve been doing yoga and knowing the different positions for my whole life,” she said.
Over the course of Tahmasebi’s lasting experience with yoga, another benefit she noticed is the mental
calmness and relaxation she feels after doing it.
“I actually have found that on days that I do yoga for long times in the morning, my day always goes by a lot smoother,” she said. “I feel like it’s a time for yourself to be able to really connect with your anxiety and really connect with everything that you’re feeling in your body … Not only does my body feel better, but I feel like I have a lower stress level throughout the day.” Many people find this to be true, as yoga is commonly used not only to help with physical wellbeing but with mental wellbeing as well.
“Yoga is just really relaxing,” Gaut said. “It helps ground me, especially since I do it in the evenings after a long day of school and practice, and it’s just a really good way to forget about some stresses and unwind and prepare for the next day.”
Vita claims that in her experience, no other exercise has the ability to soothe her the way that yoga does.
“I always come back to yoga …” she said. “I personally have not found anything that has the same euphoric effects that yoga does. I mean, when you’re exercising a lot … it’s so much stimulation. With yoga, it’s more about calming things down and re-centering yourself.”
In an effort to spread her passion for yoga to others, Tahmasebi started Yoga Club at TPHS.
“My club hones into the idea that anyone can do yoga and that it’s very versatile,” Tahmasebi said. “To practice yoga doesn’t mean you have to be super flexible, and it doesn’t mean you have to do things that are impossible to do. My club is [meant] to allow people to connect with their bodies on a more
profound level, and through yoga, they’re able to do that.”
Vita similarly thinks that yoga is a practice everyone, no matter how experienced or adept, can do.
“People have this idea of like, ‘Oh, you need to get into those crazy shapes to be able to do yoga.’ But that’s not what it’s about. There’s something for everybody,” Vita said.
Due to the universal nature of yoga, both Tahmasebi and Vita think that everyone should practice it.
“I think if everyone in the world did yoga, we would live in a more peaceful, loving place,” Vita said. “Though I think it’s also important to remember that doing yoga doesn’t instantly make you a better person or make you happier … it helps you tap into those things, and then it’s up to you to make those more positive choices and just be a kinder human to yourself. When you’re kind to yourself, that reflects in the way that you treat other people.”
Yoga is a practice that, according to Tahmasebi, “holds so much power because there’s just something very, very timeless about it.”
Whether it is to keep active, release stress or enrich spirituality, people have reaped the benefits of yoga for centuries and should feel inspired to do so for centuries to come.

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