Katie Ribbens — Staff Writer
Groans and cracks can be heard as students’ bodies become stiff from the cold and disuse. Impromptu stretching occurs as students painfully stand at the end of their long classes. Backs pop, complaints are spewed, and jokes about “old people’s syndrome” emerge. Is there a cure for this epidemic?
Once upon a time, Dordt had a yoga club that many students were a part of. Now, however, the attendance is down. Shantelia Shook, one of the leaders of the club, believes that fewer students are attending because of the stereotypes associated with yoga. The media advertises yoga as a spiritual practice, which causes many Christians to shy away from it.
“It’s not about spirituality or energy or all these stigmas out there,” Shook said. “It’s becoming healthy with your body, stretching it out, just becoming looser and more flexible.”
Shook said that fear also keeps a lot of people from yoga. Fear that they’ll be embarrassed by their inability to do poses, or that they’ll be looked down upon. It’s also a stereotype that only girls do yoga, which could be pushing away potential club members
“It’s not just for girls. It’s, you know, for everyone and all age groups,” Shook said. “All the old clubs that I did back at home had elderly people, men, women, children, even dogs.”
Amber Veltkamp, a student studying abroad from the Netherlands, started attending yoga club this semester. She recommends that students at least come out and try it.
“Yoga club at Dordt is lucky because you can just try stuff. There are poses that you will almost definitely be able to do,” Veltkamp said. “It’s not about being flexible, it’s about finding your own boundaries.”
Students at yoga club come from a wide background of skillsets. Veltkamp had done yoga for 5 years before attending Dordt’s yoga club. She attended a camp that combined chiropractic work with yoga to facilitate additional releases in the body. However, most of the students that attend yoga club are experiencing it for the first time. The poses are beginner friendly, but each individual can make them more strenuous if they so desire.
Students are motivated to do yoga for a wide variety of reasons. Veltkamp says the physical benefits make it worth it.
“I think it’s good for your flexibility,” Veltkamp said. “People who have back problems and everything can strengthen certain muscle areas.”
Many athletes joined yoga club to keep themselves loose during the off-season, or to balance their other workouts. Muscular health is maintained by balancing the strain of workouts with times to stretch and relax as well. However, there is a mental component to yoga as well.
“It’s a really good stress reliever for me,” Shook said. Exercise combined with quiet time away from the busyness of life is a key component to maintaining good mental health.
Yoga club meets at 7 p.m. on Thursdays in the aerobics room. Most sessions only take 30-40 minutes, so students can attend during short time blocks. The club has a special event each month and has opportunities for participants to choose the muscle group to focus on. The club balances strengthening and stretching muscles with a variety of poses and routines. The leaders cater to the students attending and often have a “back to basics” routine to welcome newcomers.