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Meet Kayla Cervantes

It’s not a stretch to say Kayla Cervantes likes her internship at MiraCosta College.

The 23-year-old kinesiology student teaches yoga at noon at the San Elijo campus each Wednesday. The 30-minute sessions are available to students and faculty members, and the novice and knowledgeable are welcome. 

 “It’s just drop-in,” she said about her classes, which usually attract three to five students, with some new faces and some repeat customers each time. Cervantes keeps it casual, knowing that not everybody will bring yoga clothes to campus, so jeans are fine, and the mats and logs are provided.

“I think a lot of times yoga has been seen as about how high your leg can go, or it matters how you look when you do a position,” she said. “Yoga isn’t really like that at all. It’s there for you to focus on yourself. Come back to yourself and let go of everything else that’s going on.”

She didn’t always have that perspective on yoga and didn’t realize how it benefits the body and mind until she studied it at MiraCosta.

“For me, yoga just seemed like a workout that you go into,” she said. “But when I did the 200-hour yoga certification, I realized it’s a lot more than that. It really impacted my mental health in a positive way. My grades have been better, and so has my mental health.”

Cervantes is not shy to talk about how she left UC Davis last year for mental health reasons and moved in with her parents in San Marcos. She said she's doing much better and plans to return to UC Davis to continue her studies.

Besides teaching yoga, Cervantes is also an instructor at Pure Barre, a full-body workout she describes as  “like Pilates and ballet had a baby.” After arriving at MiraCosta, she decided to broaden her experience in the fitness field by pursuing a 200-hour yoga instructor certificate. 

Earning the certificate was an eye-opener about the benefits of yoga, and she now is pursuing a 300-hour certificate that she will earn through her internship, which she began in February.

“I am pursuing a career in personal training and teaching yoga. This internship deepens my knowledge on how to teach and instruct other people. Also, I am becoming more aware of how to teach mindfulness in our movements. That is not only important for yoga but all forms of movement. It all goes hand in hand with my major and all the certifications I’m getting,” she said about working toward certificates in personal training and fitness nutrition as well as the 300-hour yoga certification.

“I wasn’t planning on doing all of them, but once I noticed they interlocked, I thought I'll just do them all at once so when I go back to UC Davis I'll have better career options and more experience in the health and wellness industry,” she said.
Cervantes plans to return to UC Davis to focus on human development, specializing in health and well-being.

For now, she is helping more people discover the same benefits of yoga that she learned first-hand.

“I just hope to help people to see it’s not just an aesthetic,” she said. “It’s about themselves. It's about feeling good about yourself and taking time for yourself..”
Cervantes said the hardest part for her students is not doing many reps or holding a position for a certain amount of time but taking the mental hurdle to show up for themselves and being proud of making a difference in their physical and mental health.

Her biggest challenge in the class has been working with a variety of students at different levels, which she said she is getting better at. She also has learned enough to pass on advice to other interns.

“My biggest advice is to be patient with yourself,” she said. “We’re always learning, and it’s OK to make mistakes.”

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