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FGCU students find inner peace with yoga at the waterfront

Purchasing expensive textbooks, studying excessively and working countless hours is the typical college life. Most students who are living it would agree that stress is like a virus; it comes unexpectedly and is hard to get rid of.  However, like most viruses, there is a possible cure, and it applies to stress, too.

There are many ways to cure stress, and among the many solutions, there is yoga, the ideal and healthy alternative to dealing with stress. FGCU does not only offer yoga classes in the rec gym in Alico Arena, but this year, Waterfront Yoga is one of the newest group fitness classes offered to students.

By doing yoga on the waterfront, students have the opportunity to enjoy the scenery while finding inner connection and peace within their body and mind. Meditate all your troubles and stress away and take the opportunity to participate in Waterfront Yoga on the North Lake waterfront with yoga instructor Jessica Elsaid.

Elsaid, a senior education major, has been teaching yoga for about a year at the campus gym and recently started teaching yoga classes at LA Fitness. Just like how most Eagles enjoy the campus’ complimentary water recreation on the waterfront, Elsaid has always enjoyed yoga on the beach.

“I have always wanted to teach yoga on the beach, as it offers a different kind of quality than other yoga classes,” Elsaid said. “So, over the summer, I asked if I could start teaching yoga on the waterfront, and immediately, the request got approved. I was so excited to begin teaching this fall.”

Elsaid said that Waterfront Yoga is different because by being outside, participants get a deeper connection with the earth. There is also more space, which means more students, peers and commuters can all share the same practice. The ground is also softer, so working with some poses won’t be as traumatizing as working inside a small, confined space. She also added that since there are no mirrors, students and peers can’t be focused on and conscious of how they look, what they are doing and how others are doing.

“The real challenge is that each individual has to actually focus on himself or herself, which is the whole point of yoga,” she said. “Finding your inner self and loving and accepting yourself for an entire 45 minutes that involves no worries and judgment.”

Elsaid’s strongest quality in yoga instruction is that she incorporates the calmness and in-the-moment poses rather than being fast like power yoga.

“I enjoy focusing longer on the poses because it really strengthens your body and ability of mind to doing the pose,” she said. “Yoga isn’t about a person’s weakness, but rather about a person’s strength and doing what your body is capable of. It is a worry-free practice.”

Elsaid said that is why yoga is one of the many ways to cope with stress.

“It helps stimulate the mind to think positive while being active,” she said.

Elsaid is most excited about incorporating into Waterfront Yoga what everyone is feeling.

“I have grown to realize that yoga is not about me but about me sharing my practice with others, which means their needs come first,” she said. “I am really looking forward to seeing more people attend and to have the mats slant in an angle. I also might test out towels since the sand makes the ground softer and more accessible for yoga.”

For Elsaid, yoga is a daily practice that helps calm her and strengthen her to be a better instructor.

“I try to do yoga at least twice a day for an hour,” Elsaid said. “Sometimes, I do more if I can, and sometimes, I do less. But, no matter what, I have to do yoga daily. It’s all about practice just like in everything improvement comes from practice.”

Don’t miss out on Waterfront Yoga at 5 p.m. every Thursday and the opportunity to share your experience with others.

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