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Yoga Spreads Through Harvard Houses, Gyms

By Irfan Mahmud, Contributing Writer

On Monday evening, students gathered in Hemenway Gymnasium, brightly colored yoga mats and chilled water bottles in tow. They quickly began to stretch, hoping to alleviate the day’s stress.

With all but one upperclassman House offering free yoga sessions this semester, students have latched on to the opportunity to stretch and rejuvenate in a relaxing environment as a complement to their hectic lifestyles.

“After the stresses of school, basketball practice, and homework, it’s really nice to be able to relax with some yoga,” said Katherine A. Metoyer ’16, a self-proclaimed yoga enthusiast. “It’s even nicer when you don’t have to go out of your way to find a time that fits your schedule because they’re offered so often.”

These yoga classes, taught by House tutors as well as trained yoga professionals, are open to any Harvard students regardless of their House affiliation.

“You’re welcome to join any of them—to go to another house if you can’t make Eliot’s sessions, or to go to every class and become, free of charge, an avid yogi,” Brandon R. Tilley, Eliot’s house wellness tutor, wrote in an email over the House list.

In the email, Tilley also encouraged everyone, including those who are more experienced and those who have never done yoga before, to participate.

“Classes are especially apt for beginners and experts: [The instructor will] gently teach you the fundamentals, and can help even the most experienced among us to fine tune,” Tilley wrote in the email.

Lucy V. Burke ’16 said she has been especially impressed with the yoga instructors on campus.

“There was one time I got stuck in a very uncomfortable position, and they eased me out of it with great prowess,” she said.

Kirin Gupta ’16 said that she believes this rising popularity of yoga at Harvard is a result of “contortionism being sexy.”

“Think about the sheer sex appeal of putting your legs behind your head,” Gupta said.

In addition to these classes at upperclassmen Houses, Harvard also offers yoga classes in Allston. The Center for Wellness has partnered with the Harvard Allston Education Portal to co-sponsor an eight-week yoga class series this semester.

According to the Harvard Allston Education Portal’s website, “Yoga provides a unique opportunity to build strength and energize, while cultivating flexibility and balance, and relaxing and quieting the mind.”

However, Hanna Evensen ’16 said she sees another dimension of yoga’s benefit.

“Everybody just wants to bend into a flexible pretzel,” she said.

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