Chardoneé Wright, Staff Writer:
Soft music quietly played in the dimly lit room as six men moved in sync with yoga instructor Hilary Shaffer as she guided them into various positions and postures.
“I always really liked yoga,” said Shaffer. “When I was an undergraduate I started taking yoga classes, and it felt really good, really relaxing, and was a really good workout. I started teaching group exercising, and slowly started training to teach yoga.”
Shaffer is the grad intern and yoga instructor in the Fitness Center.
Every Wednesday for a month, Shaffer teaches a free Men’s Yoga class which is open to all students.
According to Shaffer, the class is offered to give men more flexibility and averages about eight men per class.
“Men are really tight in the shoulders,” said Shaffer, as she illustrated the body parts with her hands. “Men have really tight hip flexors. They are really tight in the hamstrings. So those are the three main things that we focus on.”
According to Southern’s website, The Men’s Initiative and Fitness Center created the class to get men more comfortable with yoga.
Two friends, Max Cole and Michael Jodon, said they enjoy participating in the yoga classes.
Cole is a freshman who said he feels great after taking the class.
“We’ve been coming every week since it started,” said Cole. “I feel great and stretched out. The first time we left, we ran to Conn Hall because we felt so good and ate a healthy meal.”
Jodon, a freshman math secondary education major, said going to yoga class helps prepare his body for lifting.
“I come to yoga to feel relaxed and more flexible,” said Jodon. “I feel so much better when I lift.”
According to Yoga Journal, a site that serves as a reference tool for people who take yoga, connecting the mind, body, and breath through various postures and positions is the sole purpose of the exercise.
The site adds that it is a philosophy that began in India about 5,000 years ago and the practice of yoga is not considered a religion.
“The way we are doing yoga in the Fitness Center,” said Shaffer, “is through Asanas. All Asanas means is just the postures or the poses. All the yoga that we practice here is through Asanas, the poses and through breath practices.”
According to Canadian Living, an online health journal, yoga workouts cover every muscle, joint and organ. They work the endocrine, skeletal, muscular, and cardiovascular system which helps oxygenate blood.
Shaffer said her class uses straps that look like belts during the exercise routine for assistance.
“We do ‘reclining big toe’ with the straps,” said Shaffer as she demonstrated the poses, “and we also do intense side stretches. For the hip flexors we do a ‘modified pigeon toe’ and for the shoulders we do a lot of different stretches.”
During the yoga class, everyone had a green mat and faced a large mirror on the wall. As Shaffer moved from each pose, she called out different names of the position.
The men mimicked her movements until the last resting pose was completed.
Shaffer said that there are many benefits that both men and women can take from participating in yoga workouts.
“You can definitely improve posture, improve flexibility, reduce stress and maybe improve any kinds of aches and pains you have in the body. You’re just going to have a better awareness of your body, which is wonderful,” said Shaffer.