(Photo courtesy of www.njn.net; Baron Baptiste, Boston yoga pioneer)
Published Nov. 17, 2005
As the semester neared finals time, many of us sought salvation in yoga, increasingly a haven not for hippies but for overstressed urbanites who find that scheduling down time is the only way to have it. I encountered a lot of people whose lives had been changed by this practice. The rising popularity of a doctrine which encourages you to stop self-judgement, eschew competition with the other sweaty bodies in the room, clear your head, and accept the consequences comes as little surprise, but offers much hope as at least a half-measure in correcting the uber-work ethic that characterizes urban life in Boston. I thought this was a noteworthy trend to examine at Emerson as well.
The number of participants in yoga classes at the Emerson College Fitness Center (ECFC) has increased this year from a handful of practitioners to full classes holding 15 to 18 students, according to Jenn Finn, general manager of the ECFC.
While the overall numbers for group fitness classes have gone up since the fitness center became free to all students (last year's members paid $150 per semester), class sizes usually shrink as homework piles up, Finn said. "November is couch potato month," she said. "We expect that. It's just the nature of the beast. You got projects, you got midterms, the holidays are coming up."
This year, however, is different for the fitness center's yoga classes in particular, according to Finn.
"[Attendance for yoga classes] has remained pretty steady," she said. "Yoga is more popular now than it ever has been. Classes are generally full." Students must sign up in advance, and often encounter mat-to-mat traffic in the one crowded room. "Two years ago, we wouldn't have had [that situation]," Finn said.
One reason for the class's popularity may be the focus on relaxation that characterizes yoga classes and makes them different from more demanding routines at the ECFC, such as the military-style workout offered in the Boot Camp class or the 7 a.m. intensive bike-based spin class...