Mind & Body


Yoga, a physical, mental and spiritual practice of discipline originating from Northern India over 5,000 years ago, is still relevant in our modern world today!

Abby Mercatoris, a current junior at VT discovered her freshman year that yoga can relieve stress and anxiety, enabling her to better manage her thoughts and mind. She was inspired by the benign nature of the practice and decided to become a yoga fitness instructor. She wanted to help promote yoga by not only exercising the body and mind, but by stretching intellectual mediation and awareness.

To become an instructor Abby took HNFE 2254 which is a Group Fitness instructor course, fall of last year. She then had to pass the National ACE GFI exam as well as audition at Mccomas to become an instructor. After successfully passing every test, she became an instructor at Mccomas! To prepare for her classes she comes up with different sequences that incorporate a warm up, the main core of the class, balancing poses and a cool down. She creates her own playlists during the practice which mainly consists of folk and indie music. During final savanna she plays either meditation or classical music. A struggle that Abby faces as an instructor is communicating clearly to her participants to use their right/left limbs for different poses. This was more of an issue when she first started teaching yoga as she was nervous. The most rewarding part of being a yoga instructor is giving her participants the opportunity to unwind, find peace in their practice and have the chance to implement awareness by being mindful in living an affable life.

To become an instructor, Abby first had to take a Group Fitness Instructor (GFI) course (HNFE 2254) which she did last fall (2017). She then had to pass the national ACE GFI exam, which also required an instructor audition at Mccomas. After successfully completing the GFI course and passing the national ACE exam - she became an instructor! In preparing for her classes, she incorporates several different exercise techniques and sequences that include a warm up, core class instruction, balancing positions and a cool down. For music, she creates her own playlists which mainly consists of folk and indie music; however, during one of the more significant components of yoga, called savasana, she either plays soft tones of meditation music or classical music. This is the part of the class that allows the student to reap the benefits of physical endeavors and opens the mind for self-awareness and reflection.

When Abbey first began as an instructor, she admitted she was a little nervous and that sometimes she struggled to communicate clearly with her class when giving instructions on right and left body movements. As a yoga instructor today, Abbey finds it very rewarding in giving her class a place to relax and unwind, where they can find peace in their exercise and practice. Abbey is very satisfied knowing she helps to promote physical and mental awareness, while also introducing a more affable lifestyle for her students.

For Abby, yoga is something very special. It’s a haven for her to retract from the worries and strains of everyday life.

After asking Abbey what type of yoga she preferred, she said the movements with gentle flows because of the calming stretches and meditative components during the savasana phase; this flow is achievable for everyone and she feels it is more inclusive and less intimidating. Abby’s favorite yoga position is called the pigeon pose because of its deep stretch and how it opens the hips. She likes to stay in this position a bit longer than most to get the full effect of the stretch.

Ahimsa, is Abbey’s favorite yoga term. It means compassion, kind, non-harming and caring. Abby says we find inner peace in ahimsa and we should always be loving and kind.

Advice to all yoga newbies – YOGA should be fused into everyone’s lifestyle because of its restorative benefits. It’s so easy to get caught-up in the stress of everyday life and activities at school and work. Yoga is a time for self-reflection, growth, change, love and appreciation for the beautiful humans we are, and how we can perhaps influence others with grace and kindness.

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