Yoga elective helps students manage mental health

Breathe. Move. These are the steps to a good yoga practice, according to yoga teacher Kelsey Steele.

Steele’s class is new to in-person learning because it ran online last year, and students say they are enjoying it.
“It’s a good way to learn about your body and how it works,” junior Sophia Reskusic said. “It’s a stress reliever.”

Steele said she teaches a short lesson at the beginning of each class, like in November when they explored gratitude. This month, the yoga students will focus on understanding stress.

“Students can gain a lot of [stress] management with practicing [yoga],” Steele said. “The different moves and postures you’re doing can help to just change the dynamic of how you sit in stressful moments.”

Despite being a newer class, students have confidence in Steele’s skill.

“[Steele] has been doing yoga forever,” Reskusic said. “So she knows what she’s doing.”

Steele was introduced to yoga as a young adult, and said she quickly fell in love.

“It just made me feel better about myself,” she said. “I started it as a form of exercise, but really, tackling or working on something in a yoga pose is something that you can sometimes get frustrated with, but then walk away from and come back to it later. There’s a lot of individual life lessons you learn when you do something every single day.”

Steele is familiar with many forms of yoga, and said she varies it when she can.

“Yoga is not just like one cut-and-dry form, [there are] lots of different styles,” Steele said. “I try to switch it up based on what [the students] might need that day, or what time of the quarter it might be.”

Besides teaching them the benefits of yoga, the biggest lesson Steele imparts on her students is that anyone can do yoga.

“The first thing people will say is, ‘Oh, I can’t do that, I’m not flexible,’ or whatever and that’s not true,” she said. ”If you are paying attention to your breath and moving, or even just sitting, then you’re doing yoga.”