Whether you get into the peacock pose every morning, or you haven't stretched since soccer practice in grade 5, there's room for you in the UBC Yoga Club.
I had the privilege of sitting down with Kathy, Food, Nutrition and Health major and club president, as well as Krysten, 2nd year Psychology and Sauder dual degree student and the club’s events coordinator. They generously told me about their experiences with yoga, and what makes the club unique.
Challenge your body, relax your mind
I’d dabbled in yoga before, but our conversation made me reconsider how much of a positive impact it could have on my life. While I used to only associate yoga with increased flexibility and abs of steel, it turns out the best part is how it makes you feel.
“It really benefits me mentally,” says Krysten. “Yoga makes you be present and ignore outside distractions. You get to dedicate time for yourself where you're not letting other stresses of life impact you.”
Kathy agrees. “Our teachers in the club sometimes have quotes or themes for the class,” she explains. “And if I’m having a tough time, they make me ask myself, ‘Am I pushing myself too much?’ It’s a reminder not to be too hard on yourself."
Strike a pose (your way)
You don’t have to be an expert to get the benefits. Though the complicated poses and rigorous discipline of some yoga aficionados may seem intimidating, UBC Yoga Club’s classes are non-judgmental places.
“It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing,” Kathy tells me. “Because no one cares what you're doing. They're really focused on why they're there, which is for themselves.”
I ask what the execs would tell someone (like me) who was interested in yoga but struggled to touch their toes on a good day.
“One of the common questions we're always asked is ‘I’m a beginner, can I come?’” Kathy answers. “And so we always suggest to them to try what's called the hatha class, which is just your all-levels, general type of yoga.” These classes are a good place to start if you don’t have much experience, and you can work your way through the class at your own pace.
If you happen to have some more experience and want a more difficult class, Kathy mentions that the UBC Yoga Club provides more challenging classes as well. Find the class that fits your needs best on their website.
Stretch your dollars with a membership
The club is unique at UBC because it largely functions as any other yoga studio in Vancouver might, running a full roster of classes and hosting instructors and events throughout the year. Students can purchase a membership for $20 to get into classes for a discounted rate of just $2, or drop in to individual classes for $5.
“Our whole vision and mission for the club is that we provide affordable and accessible yoga to virtually anyone who wants to come to our classes,” Kathy notes.
“At the end of the day, it’s about the yoga and not the profit,” Krysten says.
Considering studios in Vancouver can charge 5 times as much for drop-in rates, I’d say the UBC Yoga Club offers a pretty good deal. Their instructors have a range of backgrounds—some teach at other studios in Vancouver, some happen to be staff at UBC, and some of the members of the exec team are even certified. Take a look at their Instagram or Facebook if you want to see what a class looks like.
A personal space
Krysten and Kathy mention that yoga is a great activity to do individually or with your friends.
“The nature of yoga itself is very individual, but there’s definitely ways to integrate it [into your social life],” Krysten explains. “A lot of people bring friends and it becomes a weekly thing.”
However, it’s also a great activity to do solo, where you can take time out of your day to focus on yourself and your body’s requirements.
“It’s all about personal progress,” Krysten continues. “There’s no epitome of what yoga is. Everyone has different bodily needs.”
Kathy knows this well, finding yoga to be exceptionally healing. “I ended up having a minor spinal cord condition where yoga actually helped align it,” she shares. “Yoga reduced any kind of pain that I felt.”
“Dedicating self-care time for yourself makes a difference,” Krysten says, summing up what she finds valuable about the practice. “Being mindful and in the moment is really beneficial.”
“I can't imagine not doing yoga now,” Kathy says.
Check out UBC Yoga Club and Move UBC’s free workshop, Flexibility Fundamentals, on February 27th, or try their classes on Wednesdays this month for just $2. Participants in these classes can buy a student membership for only $15!