“Yoga has helped me to celebrate the successes of the past half-year, and to get through some difficult times in lockdown away from family and home”
To mark International Day of Yoga, Ruta Marcinkeviciute, an MPhil student in Engineering here at Clare Hall, shares the ways yoga has had a positive impact on her time at the College during this unusual academic year
At the beginning of the year I joined the Graduate Student Body (GSB) as an External Officer.
While hoping the pandemic would improve, I was getting myself familiar with the new position and responsibilities, and looking forward to organising some nice in-person events in collaboration with other colleges. Yet, to my great disappointment, we entered another lockdown instead. By the end of Michaelmas term I’d lost any hope of having a ‘normal’ Cambridge experience. Although heartbroken at first, I soon realised that it was in my hands to make my time at Clare Hall full of warm and unforgettable memories, and shifted my focus to creating virtual opportunities for Clare Hall students — including myself — to meet, interact and make new friends and memories. One such activity I’ve introduced is a series of weekly yoga sessions that have continued running throughout Lent and Easter term, supported by Clare Hall’s Tutorial team.
even after physically leaving Clare Hall, one never leaves its warm and close-knit community
Before I set up the sessions, one of my housemates recommended videos by Adriene Mishler, and I’ve since fallen in love with practicing yoga.
At first I felt very driven to practice regularly, yet this motivation soon died out due to lack of accountability and my research work piling up. This is when I realised I could truly benefit from the support of my peers, and decided that it would not only be easier to practice with other people, but that I would like to help others improve their physical and mental health in turn. Chatting with ‘old’ Clare Hallers I discovered that during the first quarantine back in March 2020 a group of students were practicing yoga together, led by then student, now Life Member, Rosana. She has since graduated from Cambridge and is following a university teaching career in Barcelona. I reached out to her and was happy to learn that her experience at Clare Hall had been warm and she would be happy to run online yoga sessions for us this year. It seems that even after physically leaving Clare Hall, one never leaves its warm and close-knit community.
I became more motivated, creative and energetic in my research work
We began the new series of yoga sessions in January this year.
The sessions have been challenging to say the least — both physically (balancing the body, standing in different poses for some time, flexibility) — and mentally (concentration, breathing, clearing one’s mind). However, with each session brilliantly led by Rosana I got better and better, and my motivation to practice grew stronger. Rosana has an amazing way about her sessions where she not only works on physical motion but encourages one to connect body and mind. She taught me to let go of everything in my head and just enjoy the yoga practice. I notice that after some fluctuations in attendance it has levelled down to the now regular attendees and, of course, some occasional yogis who are always warmly welcome! For me, and I believe to all students and staff at Rosana’s sessions, I felt that together with the improvement in my mental and physical wellbeing, I became more motivated, creative and energetic in my research work. Moreover, although we could not physically meet, I felt mutual support between attendees and a sense of belonging to a kind of team, made up of caring individuals.
Yoga has helped me to celebrate the successes of the past half-year, and to get through some difficult times in lockdown away from family and home.
I hope it can inspire and improve the health and lives of many lovely people at Clare Hall. Please do come along to our remaining sessions of Easter term — all details are below.