Environmental engineering senior Jerry Cortes had been considering a conventional path in the environmental engineering workforce for some time. This changed when Cortes found yoga and began practicing about two years ago.
“I don’t think I found yoga, I think yoga found me. It came to me at a time when I was seeking change. I felt like there was more to life than the lifestyle I was living. I was seeking more meaning to life and more purpose,” Cortes said.
Prior to beginning yoga, Cortes said he felt increasingly disappointed in his career path and future. He slowly became more aware of what his future could look like as an environmental engineer, especially after gaining a clearer idea of what many environmental engineering jobs entail.
“I imagined a typical job for an environmental engineer to include me spending time outdoors, and more time immersed in nature,” Cortes said. “I’m starting to realize that a lot of the environmental engineering jobs revolve around policy for a company and making sure they’re not violating any regulations.”
Cortes said he began enjoying yoga so much that it increasingly replaced his original dreams of becoming an environmental engineer.
Taking his practice abroad
To pursue his new dream of becoming a yoga instructor, he traveled to India last summer. There, he studied yoga and became a certified instructor. While in India, he became part of a transformational community of yogis who are all seeking a better connection with themselves.
“After I tried yoga I was hooked and I loved the way it made me feel and how it made me feel connected to my body and with myself, so I gradually started going to yoga more and more. Yoga is definitely one of the pieces I would like to incorporate in my life,” Cortes said.
Cortes said he feels more connected to the practice with the help of his friends who are equally as committed. When asked about Cortes’ path, his friends agreed that he should follow through with it not only because it makes him feel fulfilled, but also because it compliments a certain shift they believe is occurring on the planet.
What his friends say
“I think that right now our world is experiencing this shift away from hate and yoga is playing a key role in reshaping how people think and approach their actions. [Cortes] discovered this as something he’s most passionate about and something that I believe will lead him to more happiness in the end,” anthropology and geography senior Troy Phounsavath.
Yoga isn’t just something that may help reshape the world, according to Cortes’ friends. It is also a practice Cortes can introduce into the lives of others while expanding it within his own.
“Yoga to Jerry will make him so happy. He already is in love with yoga, and following his path to India and getting his yoga credentials is just the beginning. I can see him going really far and making a difference within the yoga community,” nutrition sophomore Maya Smigel said.
Cortes teaches yoga at the recreation center. He emphasized how wonderful it is to work within a campus community that he is part of. He can relate to the types of pressures students go through and consequently is able to construct his classes accordingly.
“I really love teaching yoga at the rec [recreation center]. Most of the students who come to the classes are Cal Poly students that are in our age group. I really feel connected to them because I’ve gone through what they’re going through and am still going through it,” Cortes said.
Moving forward, Cortes plans to continue to grow his practice to better himself and to spread this transformational practice to others.