By Sydney A. Stalnecker
Midterms are quickly approaching, leaving some Youngstown State University students wondering how to lessen test anxiety while improving their grades. Brooke Crissman, a sophomore biology major and Group X yoga instructor, says yoga can help.
“Taking a little time for yourself is really beneficial,” Crissman said.
Crissman advises students and faculty to try the Group X yoga classes offered by the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center. She finds it important for students to take time to relax, especially during the more challenging times of the semester.
“Sometimes it can feel like, ‘Oh, if I go to this class, I’m going to waste an hour and a half that I could’ve been studying,’’’ Crissman said. “But the hour and a half that you spend going to a yoga class, or a Zumba class, or spinning is going to improve your studying because you’re going to be kind of more chill, and it’s good for you.”
Maggie Glaros, a sophomore physical therapy major, regularly attends Crissman’s class and finds mindfulness an important aspect of yoga, which improves schoolwork.
“Yoga puts a focus on mindfulness and being intentional about the moment that you’re in,” Glaros said.
According to Glaros, mindfulness matters off the yoga mat, too, and applies to all aspects of life.
“When you’re studying, [make] sure that your studying is intentional and also your interactions with people,” she said.
Crissman said she has practiced yoga since her sophomore year of high school and has gained strength and flexibility as a result.
“It made me build that mind-body connection,” Crissman said. “Just linking the breath with the body, it makes you more flexible, it makes you stronger, but it also makes you more aware.”
She also said regularly practicing yoga has impacted her mental health.
“I used to struggle a lot with anxiety, especially when school was really difficult,” Crissman said. “Yoga was one thing I could do to really relieve it, and I’m happy to say that I don’t really have a problem with it anymore.”
Crissman received her primary yoga certification three years ago so she could begin teaching classes and share her passion with fellow peers.
Necessary materials for the class, such as yoga mats and face shields, are provided by the rec center. Crissman recommends using a face shield because they make it easier for her to breathe during the practice.
The practice is judgement-free and suitable for beginners throughout the semester. Modifications are always provided during more challenging poses. She suggests bringing a yoga block to help with inflexibility.
“Yoga blocks are a great way to modify poses, [they] kind of bring the mat higher up, so that you can get the same benefits of poses without having to be as flexible,” Crissman said.
Students who are new to the practice shouldn’t be afraid to start, she said.
“I know it can be scary to do something you’re not good at. I couldn’t touch my toes when I started doing yoga, but it’s good for you, and it’s fun,” Crissman said. “People of all levels come to my class, so you’ll definitely feel at home.”
The Group X yoga classes are held in person at 7:15 a.m. Tuesdays with Brooke and Wednesdays with Galena at. Both classes are held on Court C at the rec center. A virtual class is held at 5 p.m. Thursdays via Zoom.
The yoga classes are free for all students and faculty, but registration is required to participate. To register for a class, visit the rec center’s store website.