Schedules are busy, time is limited and stress is high.
Such is life for many UT students. But students took a break from this Wednesday at Yoga Fest in the Humanities Amphitheater.
This event was part of the VolAware Street Fair, which followed the theme of "unwind before you unravel," on Pedestrian Walkway.
Students gathered together on the grass with mats, towels and bare feet. The instructor started with simple breathing and stretching exercises, directing from the front with a microphone while another woman next to her demonstrated the moves.
Many students already participate in yoga regularly, so this was a new way to experience the exercise. Yoga classes are not often offered outside in the middle of the day on a college campus.
"This was a good opportunity to get involved and for others to experience yoga," said Tanya Smith, junior in biomedical engineering. "It's super fun to do yoga outside with over a hundred other people."
Others were new to yoga, and this event proved to be an interesting introduction.
"I've been trying yoga more often," Jesse Farber-Eger, a freshman in environmental studies, said. "I do more meditation than stretching yoga, but I've been trying to do that as well. So, this was a good opportunity for that."
A large crowd attended the yoga-thon. Some came with their class, and some came on their own. Some attendants were experienced, some were not. Regardless of their skill level, it gave attendees a much-needed chance to relax.
A raffle for prizes took place at the conclusion of the yoga-thon. Some of the prizes included water bottles, towels and yoga mats to equip students for a further pursuit of yoga.
Yoga emphasizes concentration on the internal self instead of external surroundings. It is about relaxation and taking time to separate from the outside world.
"Yoga is a state of being; yoga means to connect ... it's a connection that is happening with a sense of ease," said Shanti, one of the yoga instructors and owner of Shanti Yoga Haven. "There is no conflict. It's about how to drop all the things that create conflict, which is generally learning how to work with our mind."
Constantly feeling stressed, pressured and lacking in time can lead to unpleasant emotions and stress, noted Shanti and Smith said. They believe yoga is a beneficial solution for the stress so many students face.
"I really like the connection between mind, body and soul," Smith said. "It's really calming, so it helped me de-stress today, especially with classes and everything else going on."
Shanti said she believes that everyone can benefit from yoga because it teaches people how to thrive instead of just survive.
To her, it is a way of life.
"I wish that there was a required class where you learn the tools for how to manage emotions," Shanti said. "It's the most difficult thing to do. We can learn how to be able to survive in this world, but what about being able to love life? As we live yoga, we feel a sense of community where we are not separate."