Group fitness instructors led over 30 participants through various sun salutations to celebrate National Yoga Month on Sunday.
Campus Recreation sponsored ‘Yoga in the Park’ in honor of National Yoga Month. ‘Yoga in the Park’ was a free event and open to the public. The event started at noon with music, deep breathes and warm-up sun salutations.
At noon, Nora Gyarfas, a group fitness instructor on campus, led the group through simple poses and stretches to ease into the session. Gyarfas set the pace for the group but encouraged individuals to go at their own speed.
Gyarfas said that yoga is meant for anybody who wants to try it, since it can be tailored to the individual.
“People from 6 to 60 year-olds can do it,” she said. The various muscle movements and muscle repetitions are good exercise, she said. During the session, Gyarfas said to the group that yoga is often perceived to be easy, but it can actually be very difficult.
Icephine Johnson, a nurse practitioner at Health Services on campus, said that Yoga can be more challenging than it looks. The sun was shining high and bright on Sunday, and with only a few clouds in the sky, Johnson said she managed to break a sweat, but enjoyed that it was outside.
“Yoga is so intimate, and by adding the outdoors, it helped [me] be more intimate with nature,” she continued. “I thought it was a wonderful idea.”
She has also been doing yoga independently for over 30 years, but this was her first time participating in a group session, she said. Johnson said she likes to do yoga for about 15 to 20 minutes before work, because she feels good all day.
Max Cerny, a biomedical science major at SCSU, also said yoga has helped him throughout his day. He said that Yoga helps him “get the morning started,” and that he feels more productive in class after doing yoga. Cerny mentioned that he often lifts weights, and he recently started doing Yoga to help alleviate the soreness that comes with lifting and to relieve stress.
“It’s really for whoever wants it,” he said. “It’s nice to cohesively come together and relax. There’s no pressure.”
As the session continued, the sun continued to rise and the pace of the session quickened. The breeze rustled the leaves and rolled over the group. Participants mostly moved independently through the sun salutations at this point in the session.
Gyarfas pointed out to the group that two group fitness instructors were going through the salutations at a slower pace, while others continued at a faster pace. Gyarfas continued to walk through instructing the group, encouraging everybody to find a pace that was comfortable for them.
As time drew closer to 1 p.m., Gyarfas started wrapping up the session. She instructed the group through a few more salutations, and then began winding down the session with the final restorative salutations. A few minutes before the session ended, the group laid on their backs with their eyes closed. Gyarfas walked through the resting group, congratulating them on their hard work. She said that this resting is “a pose we often forget to do, which is unfortunate because it’s one of the most important.”
After ending the session, Gyarfas said everybody seemed to be really engaged during the session and was impressed with the turnout. She said she would like to hold another outdoor group session in the spring.
“I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out,” she said.
This article originally appeared in the University Chronicle on November 2, 2014.