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Escape from Reality

Mina Takahashi, Feature Editor

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Deep breathing, calm music, and an instructor’s soothing voice fill the library each Monday as teachers gather for a de-stressing yoga session, an idea started by English teacher Mandy Sotillo.

“I was talking with Kelli Jackson, one of my instructors at Zenden, about how a lot of my co-workers in the English Department are interested in yoga, but struggle to find time to fit it into their schedules. I was like, ‘Gosh, if you could come to us, I know there would be interest,’ and she said that would be a possibility,” Sotillo said. “I started with my department, e-mailing them to see if they were interested. It will be open to the whole staff, but I wanted to see if there was interest in my department first.”

Sotillo has used yoga as an outlet to relieve stress since college, and it has quickly become part of her lifestyle.

“When I was in college, I had some yoga DVDs that I used. It can be really strengthening,” Sotillo said. “It gets your heart rate up quite a bit and now I use it as a form of exercise as well.”

Sotillo has been doing yoga for ten years. The number of classes she attends each week depends on the number of papers she has to grade. In a busy week, she might go once or twice, whereas in other weeks she might be able to squeeze in three or four classes. Because yoga is such a vital means of stress relief, Sotillo tries to attend as many classes as she can.

For me personally, I think yoga is really individualized. With every pose, there are modifications so you can work at your own level, and you can really see improvement quickly, and you just feel better.”

— Mandy Sotillo

“The most calming and de-stressing parts are the deep breathing, and, at the very end, when we just lie there in Savasana for a few minutes. There’s a lot of deep breathing that goes into it,” Sotillo said. “Your breathing goes along with your movements. Usually there is calm music, although if it’s a power class, there might be music that is more upbeat. Sometimes the instructor is doing the moves with you. The instructor at the studio where I go cues us and adjusts our posture if we’re doing some of the poses incorrectly so that we don’t injure ourselves.”

People are also attracted to yoga because it includes all skill levels.

“For me personally, I think yoga is really individualized. With every pose, there are modifications so you can work at your own level, and you can really see improvement quickly, and you just feel better. You don’t have all of these aches and pains. I think it’s something that a lot of people incorporate into their workouts. They might be doing other forms of exercise and then they might use yoga for stretching. There’s a lot of research out there about it being good for you mentally and physically,” Sotillo said.

New teacher Haley Johannsen is one of the teachers who participates in after-school yoga.

“What stresses me out is students turning in late work,” Johannesen said, “so I do yoga to calm myself.”

Although there were only four teachers who attended the first session, Sotillo is expecting a lot more participation in the future.

“Right now we have eleven teachers interested just within the English Department,” Sotillo said. “I’m hoping to offer this to the whole staff and anyone who’s interested in the future. I feel like there would be a lot of people on staff who would like it. Because it’s on site, we’re hoping it grows. All levels will be welcome so I’m hoping more people will join us when the word gets out.”

About the Writer
Mina Takahashi, Feature Editor

Mina Takahashi is a senior at City High and Iowa's 2018 Journalist of the Year. It is her second year on staff where she is currently the features editor....

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