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The history behind yoga classes at HCC

Kirsten Tate/Staff

Kirsten Tate/Staff

Maria Cristina Echeverri, Staff Writer

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  Dr. Karl Debate attributes the beginning of yoga classes at Hillsborough Community College to his experiences as a coach. Debate believes yoga helps students to develop better daily life activities. He also describes how the trend of yoga in college has been changing over time.

  Yoga classes at the Hillsborough Community College started in 2007, when Debate recognized the benefits of including them in the Physical Education program at Dale Mabry campus. Just five years later, they have become one of the most popular electives.

  Debate, 47, considered yoga a “natural part” of his coaching methods because it allows students to prevent injuries, improve flexibility and stimulates meditation. In addition, Debate said “Yoga helps students with other activities in life, especially in school. All students are stressed. I think one hour of yoga helps them to calm down and do something healthy for themselves. Being mindful and quiet helps students to get focus. There’s one study I read that shows students who do yoga perform better in the other classes because the breathing technique helps them to clear the mind and deal with text anxiety.”

  Yoga has expanded to three course levels. It is offered at beginning and intermediate levels. Currently, the Brandon and SouthShore campuses also include yoga into their curriculums.

  For Debate, everything changed 10 years ago when his ex-wife took him to her yoga class. “My first class was terrible. I hated it! I thought it was a competition, and I wanted to be the best and I wasn’t,” Debate recalls.

  As a competitive athlete for marathons and triathlons, he used to train at least three hours per day to get faster and better than the competition. Of course, this is not the goal of yoga. “I read about yoga being good for athletes, but I thought that an hour could be spent doing other things that would help me more. I also thought it was more for women than men,” Debate said.

  His drive to be competitive was not the best way to approach yoga. Neither was the notion he had about it. Overcoming these perceptions and stigmas was one of the biggest challenges for him. After that, Debate stayed with yoga and kept practicing until falling in love of it. He could get deeper into the practice of yoga and obtain the benefits from it.

  Debate has dedicated his life to the study, practice and teaching of different sports. He has been coaching for many years and totally encourages his students to get into the practice of yoga. “At least one student at the end of the semester keeps doing yoga, and that makes me very happy,” Dr. Debate said.

  He became part of HCC in 2006 when he moved from Virginia to Florida.

  Debate is the Physical Education program manager at the HCC Dale Mabry campus and keeps teaching yoga for both the benefit of himself and his students.

  Recently, yoga has become a popular trend among students’ lifestyle. In fact, the concept of yoga has evolved from a stigmatized feminine practice to a well-recognized sport.

  “I never forget the first class I taught. It was seventeen women and one guy. I guess guys didn’t know what yoga was about, or they didn’t want to take it because it was new for them,” Debate said.

  The growing popularity of yoga can be one reason for the successful acceptance among the college community. Kristen Tate, an HCC student, commented on a blog, “I’m glad that Dr. Debate introduced yoga to HCC, and it definitely is a very popular class. I had to stalk web advisor to enroll.”

  As a matter of fact, yoga classes are a wonderful gift that Debate gave to himself and all HCC students.

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The history behind yoga classes at HCC