An increasing number of students looking for a break from classes and studying are doing downward dogs and sun salutations to relieve stress.
With several local yoga studios and classes offered at gyms on campus, yoga classes aren’t in any shortage in Ann Arbor. The U-Move Fitness program at the University and off campus studios have increased the number of yoga classes in recent semesters, to meet the high student demand for the workout.
Sheila Calhoun, assistant director of U-Move Fitness, said yoga classes have been filling up quickly and have become some of the leading fitness classes provided by the U-Move program. Several different types of yoga classes are offered through U-Move including “Beginners Yoga”, “Healthy Backs Yoga” and “Prenatal/Postnatal Yoga.”
“I’ve been in my position for a year and a half now, and they are one of the most popular classes, so I’m trying to get as many on the schedule as I can,” she said.
In order to accommodate for the high demand, the U-Move yoga classes are offered at staggered times to provide for as many people as possible, Calhoun said.
“We’ve got classes in the early morning at 7 a.m., lunch classes for people who can sneak away, and classes after the work hour for people who may want to end their day with a little bit of relaxation,” she said.
Yoga studios near campus are also looking to suit students’ varying schedules, with some offering classes starting as early as 6 a.m. and some ending as late as 10 p.m. In addition to the array of times, the studios offer a range of yoga styles to provide customers with different workouts and experiences.
Ann Arbor School of Yoga on West Huron Street offers meditative breathing yoga and yoga for beginners, while Center for Yoga — which has two Ann Arbor locations on East William Street and West Stadium Boulevard — focuses on Hot Vinyasa and Slow Burn yoga. Another studio close to campus, Ann Arbor Bikram Yoga on Washtenaw Avenue, specializes in Bikram Yoga, which is also conducted in a room with high heat.
Jonny Kest, founder of the Center for Yoga, said there has been a great amount of interest in classes lately. Center for Yoga’s East William Street location is the company’s fourth studio in Michigan and opened in September.
“The popularity is definitely evident, ” Kest said. “We were really surprised by the turnout. Since January it’s been on fire, and I don’t think we’ve had a class under 20 people in the evening.”
Kest, also a University alum, said he thinks the popularity of Center for Yoga’s classes is due to students hearing about them through word of mouth.
“As soon as people heard about (our classes) and started coming, people started Facebooking and coming in groups,” he said. “We’ve done very little-to-no advertising.”
Business School senior Alex Rich was one of these students who heard about a Center for Yoga class from one of his friends and decided to try it.
“I’ve been going to the gym since I was 15, and I’ve never had a more productive hour of exercise,” Rich said. “I feel like you get to do cardio and strength all in one. I’ve also been having some flexibility issues, so this helps.”
While Rich started taking yoga classes recently, LSA freshman Katharine Kovan said she has been practicing yoga prior to coming to the University.
“I did yoga almost every day over the summer, so I definitely wanted to continue with it,” Kovan said. “I really like yoga because it’s a combination of relaxation and exercise. You’re still getting your workout, but the whole premise is turning inward and taking a step back from the outside world and just relaxing.”
Similarly, Kest said yoga is an effective way to “recharge” and get “a second wind.”
“Yoga is like taking a shower,” he said. “It kind of washes away a lot of stress and tension.”