I wrote an article for Rowan’s March issue of Student Health 101 about yoga. The article can be viewed here.
“The light in me recognizes and honors the light in each and every one of you,” the yoga instructor says from the front of the room. Her smile indicates that class has concluded. “Namaste.”
The members of the class rise peacefully from their mats, being packing up, and then brace the doorway for the rest of their day, evening, or night. With them they take a relaxed mind and body from participating in yoga’s practice. Everyday life can be stressful, especially while in college. Academics, social life, homework, jobs, internships, and other responsibilities are all aspects of undergraduate and graduate lifestyle and all are equally difficult to balance. However, when an individual does make the time to care for themselves physically and mentally, such as going to a weekly yoga class, there are abundance of benefits that reach far beyond the yoga mat.
Harvard Medical School discusses yoga’s purpose – challenging oneself physically, but not to an overwhelming degree. At this “edge,” the focus of the practice is one’s breath while keeping the mind accepting and calm. This yoga mindset influences an individual’s inner awareness. This inner awareness promotes attention to the body’s abilities at the present moment of practice, focusing more on breath and strength of the mind and body more so than focusing on physical appearance. The Yoga Health Foundation Organization notes that inner peace is a key reason that yoga has become an essential part of many people’s daily lives, stressing the importance of taking the time to allow oneself to connect and relax their body and their mind.
Moreover, there are numerous physical benefits to yoga as well. American Osteopathic Association notes that these physical benefits include increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality, and cardio and circulatory health. The Association also explains that “the relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga class can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches, and carpal tunnel syndrome.” Regardless of where an individual decides to practice yoga, whether it’s in their dorm or bedroom or the on-campus recreation center, they will benefit from both mental and physical aspects of the practice.
Practicing yoga soothes tension and anxiety within the mind and body, which ultimately helps bring calmness and mindfulness into every day life – fully allowing an individual to be present in the moment. The techniques learned during yoga classes can be utilized during every day occurrences, such as mindful breathing before an important exam or job interview or starting off the day with a few sun salutations. Once an individual begins to implement these techniques into their everyday lives, they will begin to notice the importance of exploring their limits instead of striving for perfection while getting in tune with their body and their inner self.
Here are some other great articles about yoga: