Under the Knife: Yoga Club stretches to find balance, leans toward inner peace

It can be difficult to balance running to class, doing homework, studying for exams and holding part-time jobs and internships, all while participating in a wide variety of student-run activities.

Naturally, these responsibilities come with a lot of stress but there is one activity that, while taking up time, teaches students to manage their demanding schedules and to live in a healthy manner. Geneseo's Yoga Club teaches both yoga exercises and the fundamentals of a wholesome lifestyle.

Senior Stasia Monteiro, a Yoga Club coordinator who has been involved with the organization for the past three years of its 15-year existence, emphasized the comprehensive nature of the club. She contrasted it with yoga classes "where you just get an exercise routine."

Yoga club members learn guided meditation – exercises to stimulate different hormones in the body – along with asanas, or yoga poses. These practices involve both exercise and gaining a better understanding of the body.

Lars Mazzola is the club's personal yoga instructor. Mazzola holds an outside study group to accompany the lessons learned at meetings. The group gets in-depth information about the philosophy behind yoga and its origins. 

"The study group is more personal – it allows me to open up just a bit more," said Monteiro who, as a resident assistant in Genesee Hall and the Student Association director of student affairs, uses Yoga Club and the study group to routinely destress. 

The club is composed of students of all class years. Most of the coordinators – the officers – are upperclassmen and the new members are freshmen and sophomores.

"It's open to everyone," said Monteiro. No previous knowledge of yoga or skill is necessary to join. "As long as you feel something, it's good," she continued. "If you're practicing regularly, you'll probably improve."

Monteiro joined Yoga Club without any previous experience. Her reason for getting involved was simple: "I always had an interest in [yoga]," she said. "It's something I was drawn to."

Monteiro said that her time in Yoga Club has allowed her to reflect on the bonds that she and her club members have formed. Each meeting starts with "check-ins" for members to update each other on the past week's activities. "We can tell that the people in the group really do care about each other," she said. 

The tight-knit group reaches out to organizations outside of Geneseo as well. Club members can make an optional donation each semester to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that provides health care and training in over 70 countries.

"We like to give a little something back – keeping with the lessons that we learn in yoga," said Monteiro. "It's more than just yoga."

Yoga Club meets every Friday from 3 – 4 p.m. at the Schrader Dance Studio.