The whole philosophy of yoga is that it is not just about the physical part, rather it is of the balance of the mind and the body,” says Maya Sokovic, Advanced/Intermediate Yoga instructor at her studio, Yoga Arts San Antonio. She practices Yoga Therapy as well as teaches classes in yoga, art and photography. She is also 9 months pregnant.
Originally from Serbia, Sokovic was 15 when she started practicing yoga. Since then she have been studying different yoga styles for 25 years. The past four has been teaching yoga at the UTSA Recreation Center.
With many years of experience under her belt, Sokovic explains that the hardest posture of yoga isn’t physical but mental.
The posture, called asana (or relaxation) Sokovic explains, “brings the mind and body to the same place.”
Naturally as college students, the human mind is in a constant state of working, deciphering and planning. Trying to calm yourself to a point seems nearly impossible.
Sokovic mentions the importance of “yoga sleep” during this relaxation period. Much like REM sleep (the portion of the sleep cycle in which you are closest to being awake) “yoga sleep” is the period between being truly relaxed and sleep.
“There are Koshas — layers of the body — that we are unaware of,” Sokovic says. “It isn’t until you practice yoga that you understand and become aware of your own body, self and achieve balance.”
Usually, this incorporates meditation, a mental exercise that practices one’s breathing and focusing one’s mind. It’s a moment to take and clear the mind from all unnecessary thoughts.
The common college student’s mind is filled with thoughts of deadlines, to-do lists and the future in general. In other words, stress is everywhere.
Meditation allows one to take a few minutes to clear out this stress and put an emphasis on something as simple as breathing in and out and clearing the mind.
This, mixed with the general challenge of yoga poses creates a true full body experience.
Andrea Navarro, an experienced cardio and strength trainer, has a first-hand account of this experience: “Yoga is a great way to clear mind and challenge yourself in a way that you wouldn’t necessarily expect.”
Though she was an avid dancer in high school, Navarro lost her flexibility when she dedicated herself to cardio and strength training.
In order to restore her flexibility, Navarro decided to take up yoga. But mainly, Navarro found yoga as “a new challenge.”
Challenge accepted and challenge completed. Navarro has now taught yoga for a year. She claims that since then, the journey to becoming a yogi (one who avidly practices yoga) has broadened her horizons and challenged her to new levels. Which is why she laughs when people make the assumption that it’s “easy.”
“I think when people see yoga, but don’t practice it themselves, they don’t consider it a workout because it looks easy,” Navarro says. “But it really isn’t.”
Navarro explains that the hardest poses are called “inversion poses.” It takes extreme balance on one’s arms and lifting your feet off the ground.
When in these poses, Navarro is more concentrated on other things than where her legs are. “In yoga, you find yourself in positions that make you question what you think you are capable of, and realize what you actually are.”
Much like a classroom, yoga can act as learning experience for many. Throughout yoga, one is given the chance to take a deep breathe, evaluate, exhale, and become more connected to yourself and the world around you.
“Day to day we change,” Navarro says. “It’s just about being comfortable in the moment and becoming at peace with self — wherever you are in life.”
*If you would like to begin taking yoga, you can attend yoga classes at UTSA by looking up Group Exercise schedule or visit http://yogaartsanantonio.com.