Focus on Fitness: Yogis congregate on the Green



How familiar does this sound?

Your cell phone alarm is the most dreadful sound attempting to wake you up for that morning class, that seems to come earlier and earlier each week.  For five more minutes of delaying the inevitable, you’ll be racing to campus, with maybe enough time for your caffeine fix.  If you survive your lectures and labs, chances are you have a lineup of extracurriculars, responsibilities and deadlines waiting for you on the other side of 5 p.m.

Welcome to a day in the life of a fairly typical University of Miami student.

So what are we to do? What’s the outlet for us hyper-connected, overcommitted and sleep-deprived university students?

How does an hour of positive thoughts, exercise, and relaxing meditation sound?

Every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. on the Richter Green, prospective yogis of all abilities can participate in a free outdoor yoga class sponsored by the Insightful Mind Initiative of the UM Law School and the Wellness Center.

Fo’ free people!

Yoga on the Green started off as a way to promote the opening of Green Monkey Yoga’s South Miami studio.

“We wanted to bring yoga to the students, and showcase some of Green Monkey’s teachers. The green seemed underused, and just waiting to be occupied by yogis,” said Christina Sava, 25, a second-year UM law student hailing from Richmond, Va.


Sava began her yoga practice in 2006 as a freshman at the University of Miami in Cat Haayen’s Power Yoga class, offered at the Wellness Center.

“I was into gym workouts at the time, and power yoga was a great total body, strength-building workout. I was hooked on the intensity of the workout, and how great I felt at the end of class,” Sava said.

Strong student turnout, week after week, allowed Yoga on the Green to develop beyond a promotional offering and was officially sponsored for the fall 2011 semester by ‘Canes Care for ‘Canes.

“I was dedicated to offering free yoga for students because of the amazing benefits I’d seen in my life since I started practicing. I had more energy, drive, and direction in my life thanks to the mental clarity yoga practice brought. I also started feeling healthier and stronger,” Sava said.

While Sava will be spending her spring 2013 semester studying in Israel, 24-year-old Miami native and UM law student Brittany Panter will be taking over Yoga on the Green.

Panter got her start in yoga as an undergrad at the University of Florida through Bikram yoga.  Derived from traditional hatha yoga, Bikram is typically practiced in about 105-degree heat and high humidity (at least 40 percent).  That’s like an average day in July here in Miami.  Bikram yoga is also known as hot yoga, go figure.

“Yoga is for everyone, there is a style and teacher for you just keep trying until you find what suits you,” Panter said.

Yoga on the Green is a great opportunity to give yoga a try or perfect your asanas all while taking in fresh air and South Florida sunshine.

“It is a great workout for your body and your mind,” echoed Panter.  “You release physical toxins through sweating and twisting the physical body. You rid yourself of mental toxicity as well through concentration focusing your energy and learning to let go.”

Sava said that the benefits of yoga don’t end at the end of a session while you roll up your mat.

“I love that progress in yoga is immediately measurable. First, you will feel amazingly good at the end of a yoga class, in final relaxation pose (savasana). At the next yoga class you attend, you will notice that already you can stretch a little further and you feel a little stronger and steadier. After a couple months, you will notice yourself feeling more calm and centered even outside of class. And it goes on like that, it only gets better and better,” Sava said.

Panter agrees.

“The time you spend on your mat is a moving meditation, a time to challenge yourself and focus on you,” Panter said. “Making yourself happy and healthy is the most important thing and yoga focuses on this. If you’re not happy no one can make you happy. Happiness comes form within and yoga can help you bring it to the surface.”

Isn’t that what we are all searching for? We might call it pursuit of a degree, a sweet internship, a stable career and millions of dollars to travel the world.  But ultimately, I’m pretty sure happiness is the bottom line.

So when Thursday afternoon rolls around, consider passing by Richter.  Who among us couldn’t use a little physical and mental clarity?


Catch up with you soon ‘Canes!

**FYI: Thursday’s Yoga on the Green will run from 5:15-6:15 p.m. Normal schedule will resume the following week (Feb. 7). 

Kristen Spillane is a junior journalism and Spanish double major hailing from Boston, Mass. She’s out to make the most of all Miami has to offer and can’t resist a good adrenaline rush or the feeling of being completely and utterly spent after a workout. Blogging for her fellow Canes that are always on the go.

Focus on Fitness is a blog about discovering the plethora of physical activities and outdoor opportunities of the South Florida community and beyond.  Can’t sit still and looking for a refreshing way to use that positive energy? Keep up with “Focus on Fitness” … if you can.