Valley students focus their mind, body and spirit to manage stress

Students turn to yoga for an hour of stress relief, meditation and fitness.

By Isabella Vodos, Staff Writer

Raquel Tristan Weinstein leads the group in warrior pose as part of her mindful yoga flow during Valley Fit Fridays at Los Angeles Valley College on March 11. (Photo by Jose Callejas/The Valley Star)

On a sunny Friday afternoon, nine students attended Valley’s Fit Friday for an hour of stretching and yoga led by instructor Racquel Tristan Weinstein.


A certified instructor at Core Power Yoga, Weinstein spread a moment of peace to students by guiding the group through a series of exercises and breathing techniques. Friday’s event was held at 2 p.m. on the North Mall Lawn in front of the Student Union building. The one-hour class taught participants about the advantages students can gain through meditation.


“What I like about yoga is it combines physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being,” said Weinstein. “You get your meditation, you get some movement and you get your breathing.”


The philosophy of this practice is to affix the mind, body and soul. Benefits of yoga include increased flexibility, maintaining a balanced metabolism and circulatory health.


A recent study by The Good Body found that 36 million Americans practice yoga.


Weinstein’s yoga class is part of Fit Fridays, a series of events run by student health education coordinator Evelyn Pichardo. The series was created to keep the campus and students active, with a yoga class and a campus walk trading off every Friday.


“We came up with Valley Fit Fridays because we are thinking of students’ health and the benefits of yoga,” said Pichardo. “This workshop was made to help with mental health and provide exercise. We did it to build a sense of community.”


Weinstein demonstrated various Vinyasa flow poses that help to warm up the body. Vinyasa is a type of flow yoga where people move through different poses using their breath as a guide. The instructor focused on Sun Salutation A, which is a set of poses that begin to coordinate breath with movement.

Christina Cannarella, a disabilities inclusion consultant and student in broadcasting at Valley, brought her son Johnny Hatch for yoga. Hatch is mute but can hear and understand. According to his mother, the class made him feel welcome.


“I think it’s important for our mental health and well-being to have an opportunity to be outside,” said Cannarella. “I like that it is community based, so anyone can join. I think this is also important for self-love and self-care.”


Balancing work and school may be stressful for students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.. According to the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga can help minimize health concerns such as general wellness, chronic diseases and pain management.


The practice goes beyond flexibility, and has even been proven to reduce anxiety. Some also believe that, through yoga, people can connect with their spiritually.


Veronica Lopez, a Biochemistry graduate student from CSUN found out about Valley Fit Fridays through a local newsletter.


“I saw this workshop online actually and I want to take advantage of the free class,” said Lopez. “I love that it is outdoors and near my home.”