“I began teaching yoga for the Campus Recreation Lifetime Wellness and Fitness Program in 2009,” said Pam Wiggins, a certified yoga instructor. “We started with three classes in the morning, and to date, we have added five more classes and three instructors.”
Wiggins said the University offers other classes as a part of the fitness program that focus on the other components of fitness, cardiovascular and muscular endurance as well as strength.
However, yoga fulfills the flexibility component of the fitness program while also including the other two components, Wiggins said.
“Most exercisers want the aerobic effect or the muscular strength rather than increased range of motion,” Wiggins said. “Yoga offers that and much more. Muscular strength and endurance come from the different poses, or ‘asanas’ that one holds.”
All three yoga instructors at Auburn are YogaFit certified instructors, Wiggins said.
According to www.yogafit.com, YogaFit is an abbreviation for “Yoga for the Fitness Industry,” and was developed by Beth Shaw in 1994. YogaFit omits the sanskrit names for poses and the ohming and chanting generally associated with traditional yoga, making it less mysterious and intimidating.
YogaFit is based on the ancient fitness science of hatha yoga, and it blends balance, strength, flexibility and power.
Wiggins’ class includes upbeat music, laughter and conversation.
Brian Wells, faculty member at the space research institute at the University, started doing yoga 10 years ago. He joined the yoga program at Auburn last year when it began.
“Often, people will start off in hatha yoga because it’s very physical,” Wells said. “All the yogas are focused on the union of the mind, body and spirit.”
Wells said each type of yoga has a focus, and people have to learn to incorporate the other components to get the most out of the experience.
“As you develop in hatha yoga, you have to learn how to focus and get the mental component,” Wells said. “Otherwise you find yourself not holding the postures properly. You get to this point where your body is progressed enough, and your mind is really the challenge.”
Yoga is a complement to all other athletic and exercise activities one can do, Wells said.
“You’re also less likely to get hurt if you’re flexible,” Wells said. “They should have more of the athletic department working with yoga, because that would perhaps cut down their injury rates because the muscles are loose.”
Above all, yoga is simple and versatile, Wells said.
“Yoga is one of the activities that you don’t need anything,” Wells said. “You can do yoga anywhere. I’ve actually done it on an airplane before.”
Chelsea Hodgkins, freshman in political science, started doing yoga regularly when she came to Auburn in the fall.
“It calms me down,” Hodgkins said. “It’s nice to be able to take an hour for yourself, and it’s greatly increased my flexibility and got me in shape. I’ve lost 15 pounds since I’ve been here.”
In high school, Hodgkins played soccer, and she still runs. She said yoga is a different type of workout than any sport she has ever played.
“In my mind, it targets different parts of your body,” Hodgkins said. “Running does good stuff for your legs and everything, but yoga is kind of like an all-over training system. Everybody should do it.”
Athletes in other sports benefit greatly from yoga, Hodgkins said.
“I’ve had friends who have been on the track team and have shed minutes off their time because the more flexible you are, I guess the faster you’re able to go,” Hodgkins said.
She said she had done yoga classes before coming to Auburn, but Wiggins’ class is the best.
“I love Pam,” Hodgkins said. “She’s funny, and she’s a really good instructor. She knows what she’s doing, and you definitely feel it when you walk out. She’s the best yoga instructor I’ve ever had.”