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Friday, May 14, 2021

Ebb and flow

Bianca Calagiu leading a sit-in yoga class.
Bianca Calagiu leading a sit-in yoga class.

Approximately 40 million young adults suffer from anxiety, according to a study published in Issues in Mental Health Nursing in 2012. Through a deep inhale, exhale and a series of dynamic poses, sophomore Bianca Calagiu is using her yoga practice to lead herself and her students to a bright outlook on life.

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Calagiu teaches yoga classes at the Wade King Recreation Center as well as Inspire Studio in downtown Bellingham. As an industry with more than 20 million practitioners, according to the Huffington Post, yoga has become a popular stress reliever among students, professional workers and even retirees.

Calagiu is currently pursuing her practice by teaching yoga, more specifically a meditative vinyasa flow — yoga poses accompanied by regulated breathing.

“Breathing is an essential aspect to this class,” Calagiu said. “The breath is what guides us; helps us move with purpose.”

Calagiu’s classes incorporate both a mental and physical work out, according to her description of her classes in an email.

“I lead my students through various postures that help unite the mind and body, yet also cultivating strength and flexibility,” Calagiu said.

Calagiu’s personal philosophy about yoga is it can be for anyone and everyone, which is why she chose to incorporate her yoga practice into her major, yoga and alternative therapy, which she designed through Fairhaven College of Interdisiplinary Studies. Her goal is to open up her own clinic and treatment center, combining yoga with physical and mental healing.

By also taking botany and nutrition classes, Calagiu is trying to add other alternative healing methods to her clinic. She plans to add acupuncture, massage therapy, crystal healing and chakra healing to achieve her ultimate goal of combining yoga with other kinds of therapy.

“I want them to take away the sense that they can love and accept themselves no matter what they look like, what background they come from.”

Sophomore, Bianca Calagiu

“I plan to use herbs and plants in replacement of prescription drugs that would be otherwise prescribed at the doctor,” Calagiu said in an email.

Calagiu’s classes are designed to ensure her students leave the room feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and like they were in an environment where they can express their true selves, she said.

MP_YOGA_030416_025Sarah Dunn, senior and yoga student, has been taking classes with Calagiu for a year.

“I love [her] classes because you feel so good afterward,” Dunn said.

The atmosphere in Calagiu’s classes is meant to feel accepting, non judgmental and fun, which for some can act as an escape from the stresses of work and school; something Calagiu sees as a positive.

“What a beautiful thing to be stressed out about; I’m teaching yoga to people and I’m taking really fulfilling classes at school,” she said.

“My own personal experience made me fall in love with it,” Calagiu said.  “I was really dedicated to helping people because of how much it helped me.”

Poses in the Past

Calagiu started yoga when she was 12 years old but dove further into her practice at 17 when it became her outlet for battling anxiety and depression.

“My own personal experience made me fall in love with it,“ Calagiu said. “I was really dedicated to helping people because of how much it helped me.”

One message she wants people to take away from her classes is accepting themselves and their bodies.

“She makes it such a welcoming, open, accepting environment,” Dunn said. “The whole thing is to do what you want to do and what feels good for you and what makes you happy.”

Similar to other college students, Calagiu has a lot on her plate, juggling her job, designing her own degree and maintaining her personal yoga practice.

“You just take it one day at a time; one breath at a time,” she said.

Helping her students achieve a bright outlook on life through vinyasa flow yoga has helped Calagiu grow as a teacher and a person.

“One of the biggest things that happened within myself is I suffered really bad with social anxiety and forcing myself to stand in front of a room of people created so much self confidence with in myself,” Calagiu said. “I feel like my truest me when I’m teaching.”

Body, Mind, Soul

Photo by The Western Front photo staff
Photo by The Western Front photo staff

Through her classes, Calagiu emphasizes the connection between mind and body.

“I really focus on the feelings that are going on in the body, and I focus on how can you accept the current moment right now and where you are in this space,” Calagiu said.

However, mindfulness goes far beyond the physical feeling Calagiu and her students work towards.

Scot Nichols, a professor in somatic psychology at Western, teaches around issues of human experience and its embodiment.

What yoga is doing is helping people recover a mind body unity through movement, Nichols said.

Calagiu is working towards merging several different kinds of healing through pursuing her custom degree.

“What she’s focused on is contained within a larger scope of professional practices that share ideals but manifest differently,” Nichols said.

Through both her classes on campus and Inspire studio, Calagiu makes mindfulness practice as well as the mental and physical healing benefits of yoga accessible to students, Bellingham residents and yogis alike.

“I want them to take away the sense that they can love and accept themselves no matter what they look like, what background they come from,” Calagiu said. “That way we can create a safe oasis for people where they can move freely how they want to.”

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