Yoga, Zumba and Barre, Oh My!

12-DSC_2419Students at Ouachita Baptist University who are looking to stay in shape in an organized manner are in luck. Recreational Life is now offering free yoga, Zumba, and barre classes to current OBU students and faculty members.

Yoga is arguably the most recognizable class amongst the three. Yet while it may be recognizable that does not mean that people truly understand it and the benefits it offers. Yoga classes may be known for their elaborate poses and quiet nature, but Stephanie Murry, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts and yoga instructor at Ouachita Baptist University, describes yoga as “marrying the mind and body into one harmonious unit.” Not everyone within the Christian community is comfortable with this mindset though. Pastor John Lindell leads a megachurch in Missouri and recently warned Christians against participating in yoga because of its’ “demonic intent.” Murry disagrees with this opinion and is quick to point out that yoga does not have to be a spiritual experience, but can be for anyone who wants it to be.

“The idea is that you combine your mind and body and find some peace as a result, so it is more spiritual in that respect,” says Murry, “I have had friends come to me and ask why I do yoga because they think it’s Buddhist. It’s not. Some people connect with God through running or prayer, yoga is just another activity people can use.”

While the potential to achieve inner peace may be intriging, it may not be enough to attract some always-busy college students. Those looking for an exercise that results in visual changes to their body should note that constantly attending yoga classes can result in more flexible and toned muscles. A full list of yoga benefits according to WebMD can be a helpful resource for those who still find themselves unsure about the effectiveness of the workout.

Yoga is just one of three classes though, so anyone who finds that it’s not for them don’t need to fret. Murry instructs the Zumba classes as well, a combination of Latin-American dance and aerobics. Zumba is the exact opposite of yoga in that it is has a very quick tempo and allows for much more freedom of movement. Despite having been around for only about ten years, it has spread like a wildfire across the world and is becoming one of the most popular workout routines.

Chandler Franklin, a senior Mass Communications major at OBU, has been taking Zumba classes for the past five years and recently became a certified instructor. She has already taught multiple classes across the street at Henderson State University and fills in for Murry whenever needed at Ouachita.


Last but certainly not least are the barre classes. Centered around traditional ballet training, barre classes also incorporate different elements of yoga and pilates as well according to Jarah Jacks, Resident Director of Gosser Hall at OBU and instructor of the barre classes. Jacks became a certified yoga and barre instructor about a year ago and explained what motivated her to pursue her certification.

“After having my daughter I got out of my normal workout routine and really got out of shape. I wanted to feel healthy and fit again and most importantly I wanted to take care of the body that God has given me. I believe our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus. I think it’s so important that we take care of our bodies and do what we can to glorify him through them! And by working out pretty regularly we will benefit our bodies.”

Jacks, like Franklin, teaches classes at Henderson State University and makes sure that everyone knows that there are no requirements to participate. “I have a 60-year-old lady who comes to all my classes at Henderson and she absolutely rocks it” says Jacks. Barre, like yoga and Zumba, is a great workout for the mind and body and should be considered by students and student-athletes alike.

Anybody looking for more information can go to Recreational Life’s website to find class times and locations along with other activities that are offered.

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