World Yoga Day — Feb. 22 — is a day dedicated to celebrating yoga and helping people find their inner zen.
The Daily Universe talked to yoga instructors and practitioners about why yoga is important to them and what physical and mental benefits they gain from yoga in celebration of World Yoga Day.
Chelsey Rencher started her yoga journey in high school when she and her mom decided to attend a yoga class at their gym. Rencher’s mom left the class never wanting to go back, but Rencher loved it and eventually became a yoga instructor.
“Yoga is all about self-acceptance,” Rencher said. “We spend a lot of our energy beating ourselves up.”
For Rencher, this is one of the best mental benefits of practicing yoga. She said one of the goals of yoga is to help people learn to be okay with where they are and help them slowly progress with their own goals.
There are seven different types of yoga being practiced across the globe. As an instructor, Rencher likes to focus on teaching her students what is known as restorative yoga. Rencher said restorative yoga is slow, mindful and thought-provoking. Her favorite part of teaching is knowing she is helping the people who come to her class.
Rencher said her favorite part of yoga is how it makes her feel.
“I always feel significantly happier after I get on my mat and do some yoga,” she said. “My body and mind feel enlightened and it just makes the hard parts of life a little bit easier.”
Apart from physical and mental benefits, Rencher said yoga can also help build confidence in both men and women. She said practicing yoga helps people learn to listen, to love and to accept themselves.
“As we practice these things in yoga, they will start to become part of who we are and will transfer from the mat to all aspects of our lives,” Rencher said.
Allie Barnes, a local yoga instructor, said she also enjoys gaining confidence through yoga. Barnes likes to practice yoga at home to allow herself to focus on each movement.
“I can make my practice whatever I want it to be,” Barnes said. “Doing my own thing is empowering.”
Being comfortable in her own skin is very important to her. She said being able to fall and get back up helps her to gain strength and resiliency.
Barnes said her favorite part of yoga is when she gets to relax. She said it helps her find balance and aids in her mental health as well as other aspects of her life.
“I’ve been practicing conscious relaxation, especially through yoga and meditation,” Barnes said. “I’ve noticed beautiful improvements in my running performance, relationships with others and overall day-to-day peace.”
Being able to relax helps her release stress from both her body and her mind, she said.
“When you really get in that space of moving with your breath, there’s no room for mental heaviness,” Barnes said.
Doing this has helped Barnes feel less weighed down by daily stress and bad days.
BYU alumna Ashley Wawro said she enjoys workouts that are more challenging, like kickboxing and pilates. But when it comes to de-stressing and relaxing, she enjoys the mental benefits of yoga.
“I feel calmer after a yoga session,” Wawro said. “It gives me a chance to clear my head and is a nice break of pace from my daily life.”
To those who are nervous about trying yoga, Barnes suggests trying it at home with some YouTube videos.
“Practicing at home with a video is a great way to become more familiar and comfortable with the movements in yoga,” Barnes said.
Rencher agrees that online yoga is a great way to start out. She also said she wants people to know that yoga is a no-judgment zone. With so many different styles of yoga, Rencher said it might take a few tries to find the right type, place and teacher that fits.
Rencher teaches a free yoga class every Saturday morning in the BYU WSC at 9:30 a.m. This is a service provided through BYU’s Women’s Services and Resources. For more information about Rencher or attending her classes, you can visit her Instagram page and watch our video below.
Barnes’s teaches yoga online through Udemy. Her yoga practice can be found through links on her Instagram page.