There are a number of things that can cause a college student to stress out, from a homework assignment that they forgot to do to putting to together an application for transfer. Sometimes all it takes is a few deep breaths to make the weight of living seem so much lighter than it is.

Pasadena City College offers a safe environment for students to relieve some of the tension that can come with being a college student with the yoga club.

Professor and advisor of the yoga club, Kathy Kottaras, completed her yoga teaching training in 2011 with no intention of teaching yoga at the time. It wasn’t until one of her then-students, Nhi Huynh, asked her when she was going to start teaching students yoga.

“The big question was how?” said Kottaras. “So I said, ‘Well if you start a club I’ll be your advisor and we can have meetings and practice yoga,’ and that’s how it started.”

Huynh served as president of the yoga club before transferring to Cal State Dominguez Hills this past year.

Another obstacle the club faced in its early days was the location.

“Originally we were up in a gym class room and then we moved outside, but we found that to be a little distracting,” said Kottaras. “It was beautiful to be under the pine trees, but friends would walk by and then they’d inhale and exhale ‘Hey how’s it going?”

Kottarras finally found the perfect place in a classroom setting, something that can be directly attributed to the success of the club.

“A big part of the environment created has to do with Ms. K,” said yoga club member Marcelo Romero. “She lets us be ourselves and she listens to us, but it’s also the music and the lights are down so it’s really peaceful.”

This stress free environment keeps students coming, especially when it comes to the stress caused by school.

Current president of the yoga club, Andrew Mac Tavish, believes that yoga allows students take a step back from all the things that cause them stress.

“We all know everyone’s super stressed at the moment,” said Mac Tavish. “We’re here to offer an area to relieve the stress, become refreshed and cope with reality.”

Kottaras, an english professor herself, understands the workload that comes with being a student and shares her practices with students that welcome it.

“How do you take a test when you’re feeling all crunched up?” said Kottaras. “It’s an invitation to ground your attention and hopefully be more fully present in the proccess of learning, which is an integral part of why we’re here.”

While the club is offered on campus, Kottaras hopes that yoga helps students beyond PCC grounds.

“At it’s core, it’s about learning what is means to be human and finding ways to be successful in whatever goals we hope to accomplish,” said Kottaras.

Kottaras and her pupils can be found in room W203 on Tuesdays and in IT116 on Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

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