Jerry Cortes | Courtesy Photo

In the midst of midterms and all-nighters, students sometimes neglect their well-being to achieve academic excellence. Environmental engineering senior Jerry Cortes has made it his mission to help all students practice self-care through the creation of the Cal Poly Community Yoga group.

“I really want to share the benefits yoga offers, since it had such a profound impact on my life,” Cortes said.

Cortes has been practicing yoga for two years and completed a 200-hour teacher training program in India this past summer.

“The group provides students with an opportunity to relax and reap the benefits from a yoga practice before they go out and study for the day,” Cortes said.

At the Week of Welcome Club Showcase, 400 students showed interest in community yoga. More than half of these students had no prior background or experience in the activity.

“Some newbies may feel intimidated to jump into a yoga class due to the varying skill levels,” Cortes said. “I really want to teach the foundation and building blocks so these newcomers can feel ready to go practice anywhere.”

By gearing his class towards inexperienced yogi-fanatics, Cortes provides a perfect one-on-one teaching style that ensures all students the ability to perfect their poses.

“I’ve only ever done yoga a handful of times with my parents. Jerry’s class interested me because he promised to focus on building a foundation with breathing techniques and correct posture,” biomedical engineering freshman Gabe Sitapati said. “I like how Jerry gives individual attention, such as walking around to adjust our posture and massaging our temples when we are meditating.”

Cortes’ classes focus on Hatha flow, a gentle practice designed for all skill levels, especially beginners who want to learn the foundation of yoga. Once the group becomes more established, Cortes envisions future workshops and various class styles.

“I went to Jerry’s first class, it went really well. What initially interested me with his class was seeing how much yoga has helped Jerry get rid of stress,” environmental engineering senior Katie Miller said.

Miller has been practicing yoga since her sophomore year of high school and has become well-versed with the activity. “[Jerry’s] great about helping people who are at different levels in their practice. His class made me feel really calm and light afterward.”

The group meets every Saturday and Sunday, with times varying throughout the day. Cortes posts events on the ‘Cal Poly Community Yoga’ Facebook page with specific details on the time and location of the upcoming gathering. The classes are free, with donations welcome which are used to purchase yoga mats and various equipment.

“My intention with the community yoga classes is to make it accessible for students of all backgrounds to learn and benefit from a yoga practice,” Cortes said.

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