Stress relief and flow: yoga at MiraCosta College

Professor Casey McFarland demonstrates tree pose via Zoom to her online yoga class.

Casey McFarland

Professor Casey McFarland demonstrates tree pose via Zoom to her online yoga class.

Patricia Rand

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

Yoga is a popular form of exercise that is said to increase mental and physical health, reduce stress and increase general well-being.

MiraCosta College offers 200-hour and 300-hour yoga certification courses that prepare students to become registered yoga instructors. Students can also take online KINE 150 Beginning Yoga, KINE 154 Intermediate Yoga, and KINE 155 Advanced Yoga for one CSU/UC transferable credit each or just to practice yoga.

According to MCC Kinesiology and Health professor Casey McFarland, who has a master’s degree in public health, yoga is about mindful movement that can help students slow down, regroup and reconnect with healthy living.

“Even for me, a kinesiology health yoga teacher, it’s been hard to prioritize self-care,” McFarland said. “There is so much going on, and with the transition to everything going online, if you’re taking a yoga class and actually getting a grade for it, it’s easier to find time for it.”

Associate Yoga and Kinesiology Instructor Amanda Kriebel finds the reason most people are reluctant to try yoga is that they believe they need to be very flexible to benefit from a class.

“If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they want to take a class, but they don’t because they can’t touch their toes, I would have a million dollars,” Kriebel said.

There is much more to yoga than toe-touching. Recent studies show that yoga helps people cope with stress, anxiety and depression and that it helped people maintain well-being during the lockdowns over the last year.

Kriebel agrees. “Not only does it help with athletics and recovering from injuries, but yoga personally helped me overcome test-taking anxiety while I studied physical therapy,” she said. “It was transformative for me in my own educational journey.”

In the college environment, research has shown that students who participate in yoga feel calmer, report an increased attention span, and experience reduced levels of stress.

For these reasons, MCC Associate Kinesiology professor Kelly Morelewski assigns yoga as extra credit in her online KINE 110 Walking for Fitness class. “Yoga is one of those activities that taps into the parasympathetic nervous system,” she said.

“This helps counter production of cortisol, adrenaline and helps with digestion. The rest and digest system calms us. Getting students to try this even once a week during class hopefully makes them a little more calm, patient, and helps them get through tests.”

Student stress can be a very real phenomenon. Academics, zoom meetings, family pressures, financial concerns, and social life can all take a toll on a student.

A study performed by Harvard Medical School researchers found that high-school students who participated in yoga for one semester showed improvements in mood, anxiety, perceived stress level and resilience.

“I actually taught stress management on campus as well,” Morelewski said. “One of the things we talked about was how yoga, paying attention to your breathing and trying something new are really great for the mental, physical, and vital side.”

There are no prerequisites required to take the MCC yoga certification courses. Depending on your schedule, both the 200 and 300-hour certifications can each be completed in just a few semesters. The certifications include kinesiology and health classes and are offered in the fall and spring semesters.

In yoga philosophy, the tree of yoga has eight limbs, consisting of many life lessons. Only one of the limbs involves postures, poses or flexibility. Professor Kriebel recommends keeping an open mind.

“No one is really looking at what you’re doing on your mat,” Kriebel said. “These classes and this practice can benefit you in many ways and we want you here. All are welcome!”

3/7/2022 – 100 Views – 20 Likes – 1 Comments