Flow through Yoga with Genieve

BY: NIKI VALENCIA

Promptly a few minutes before the clock strikes 6:30 p.m., yoga instructor Genieve Cardinez strides into Faber room B at the CSULB Student Recreation and Wellness Center. In one hand, her blue-covered paperback book of inspiration – "You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought" by Peter McWilliams; and in the other hand—her yoga mat and a mix of traditional and new age music tunes. "This isn't the yoga class you signed up for," said Genieve to the students in the beginning minutes of the class. Moments later, "ow's", "ah's", and a couple of "ouch's" echo through the room from the voices of students, signifying the challenge of the postures they are engaging in.

"I didn't expect it to be that hard. I expected it to just be very spiritual and stretching and that kind of stuff," said Thomas Kozourek, third year engineering major.

Genieve refers to her class as "Power Yoga" -- a hybrid of traditional yoga with advanced postures and flows.  "Power yoga is more strength building, holding postures more, going deeper, more strenuous and higher heart rate," she said. "My style goes off traditional yoga; mainly Iyengar, a type of yoga that uses props and holds poses for a long time."

Adding to her unique teachings are two other forms of yoga: "I also use Vinyasa Flow and Kundalini in class," she continued.

Students who plan to take Genieve's yoga class should know two things: this isn't your typical beginners class and be prepared to sweat. "Many yoga classes I've taken are wonderful for mediation, but I don't get much of a workout. Yoga with Genieve has me sweating most days and sore the next," said Seyka, a psychology and business major.

Seyka has consistently attended Genieve's yoga class every week since the opening of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center in fall 2008. "I've gained great stability, strength, and flexibility while still getting to enjoy the meditative aspect of yoga," she said in reference to Genieve's class.

"I always push them to challenge themselves and not stay stagnant," said Genieve. "I like to make them believe that they can go beyond their mind. When I see that they get adjusted to a certain thing, I try to change it up."

While her class is proven to be strenuous, Genieve never fails to emphasize the spiritual aspect of yoga. A virtue in the practice of yoga is its ability to relax not only the body, but also the mind. "The breathing and ‘letting go' of tension, muscle fatigue, and the uncomfortable sensations of working out [in yoga] have transferred into my life and helped me to be more patient and resilient," continued Seyka.

And that is Genieve's goal in her yoga teachings – to parallel yoga with life. "Whatever frustrations you have in life, you can transfer over," explained Genieve.

As we constantly attempt to balance work and school in our daily lives, yoga is a great solution, and not to mention, distraction to our busy days on campus. "This class definitely helps with stress and school; it gets your mind off it all," continued Kozourek.

Genieve's class is packed throughout the semester, as well as summer/winter sessions, with a variety of people: students, faculty and a surprisingly amount of men who contradict the age-old speculation that "yoga is only for chicks." "I usually invite all my guy friends to come to her class but they usually flake, thinking it's only for girls... I just think they're embarrassed," added Kozourek.

Perhaps what also attracts these students into the class is Genieve's genuine personality that reflects her caring nature. She brings with her each day a set of inspirational words and phrases to encourage everyone to try their best – not only in yoga, but also in life.

"It's yoga with attitude," added Kozourek.

Catch Genieve's yoga class at the recreation center every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. But beware, her class tends to fill up quick, so show up at least 15 minutes early to ensure a spot and a yoga mat (or bring your own).