Healthy living is a common theme in many people’s lives; SMU Junior Cameron Hay is no different. Hay is passionate about her physical health; Her pantry is stocked full of protein powders, antioxidant-rich teas, and fruits. However, Hay has recently started focusing on her mental health as well, and her favorite hobby puts the two concepts together. Hay tackles her physical health and mental health in one sitting; by going to yoga almost every day of the week.

“I started going to yoga when I was a sophomore in high school,” Hay said.

It has helped her with her struggle with anxiety, and she gets her daily workout in at the same time.

“I have never been a flexible person and I always hated stretching but I have definitely seen improvements in my flexibility. I also think that it’s a good form of exercise so it helps me stay healthy,” Hay said.

Every morning Hay fills up a large bottle of water, makes her usual bowl of oatmeal with a large scoop of peanut butter, and slips into a trendy workout outfit. She runs out the door in anticipation of her workout. Hay’s favorite yoga class is taught at the Core Power Yoga studio in Dallas. Hay started attending yoga classes periodically when she was in high school, but it wasn’t long before the practice became a part of her regular routine.

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“I try and go about 4 times weekly,” Hay says while preparing her post-workout smoothie.

Hay is one of many college-aged girls who has taken up yoga as their main form of exercise. In the age of “self-care” the trend of yoga today holds similar popularity to aerobics in the 80s. However, yoga experts claim many wellness benefits for people who practice it. Anxiety, depression, improved self-confidence are just some of the ways yoga is said to improve the health of practices.

“Practicing yoga has many benefits, but what I believe to be most important is awareness of breathing,” said Leslie Georgiadis, a seasoned yoga teacher, and personal trainer. “Breathing is the life-force that empowers us emotionally to feel better about ourselves and connect us into the world as one,”

Georgiadis has taught countless yoga classes at all different levels and believes that the practice can improve one’s overall wellness. She especially notes the focus on breathing while participating in yoga. The emphasis on different breathing techniques is essential to the practice of yoga.

“Breathing strengthens the diaphragm which is the major muscle of respiration,” Georgiadis said. “These practices are very beneficial for anxiety and depression because they regulate the nervous system.”

Like many college students, Hay deals with an overwhelming amount of stress. Projects, papers, presentations, and exams are a regular worry in her fast-paced life. But, when Hay attends a yoga class she is transported to a paradise; One where she can finally slow down.

“I like having a break during the day to just focus on myself away from home and my phone. I think it does help with my anxiety as well,” Hay said while rolling up her yoga mat after the class, “I will most likely continue yoga because it’s not only a good workout for me but it also benefits me in other ways for my mental health for it’s the perfect hobby,”

Kate Foster

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