If you’re one of the many students who shut down during the school year due to stress, you might want to consider trying yoga. What is nice about yoga is that anyone can practice it, and it has amazing health benefits.
Yoga is defined in Merriam-Webster as, “A Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation.”
The Hindu philosophy is interesting in that there are four different types of yoga that are all defined in a book called The Yoga Sutras. Each type of yoga focuses on a different mindset.
The first is Jhana yoga, which is the path of knowledge. The second is Bhakti yoga and that is the path of devotion and compassion. The third is called Karma yoga which is the path of mindfulness and action. Finally, there is Raja yoga, which focuses solely on meditation.
Many modern-day yoga classes incorporate some of these Hindu philosophies, but the Hindu types of yoga are rarely practiced now.
There are many types of modern yoga that also have amazing benefits for your mind and body. After coming out of a yoga class, or simply practicing on your own, one can guarantee they will feel centered and stress-free. There are so many different types of modern yoga, and I guarantee there is a perfect match for everyone.
Bikram yoga is one of the most popular and will give you an amazing workout. In Bikram, you work through the same 26 poses and two breathing exercises over a course of 90 minutes.
Hot yoga has also been a very popular trend in the yoga world; it’s one of my favorites because it really teaches you to focus on your breath. Hot yoga is extremely similar to Bikram yoga, but it deviates from the sequence of poses slightly. Hot yoga has its name because you practice the yoga in a hot room cranked up to about 105 degrees. This will undoubtedly force you to center your breath and cleanse your body of all toxins.
There’s also Vinyasa yoga, which is when you practice with flowing movements instead of holding different poses and positions like in Hatha yoga, which is the most basic form of yoga.
Whichever yoga practice you choose, you will always end with amazing benefits. There are a wide range of physical benefits which include: increased flexibility and muscle strength, improved posture, prevention of cartilage and joint breakdown, increase in blood flow, boost in your immunity, increase in heart rate and lowering of blood pressure as well as improvement of balance and release in tension. And keep in mind, these are merely a few of the physical benefits of yoga.
There are also amazing mental benefits as well. Practicing yoga can help you focus and relax, helps you go into a deeper sleep at night, provides a peace of mind, improves self esteem, gives you inner strength, builds awareness, encourages self-care, can help improve relationships and even keep allergies under control!
Liz Gambino, a junior here at West Chester University, is a strong advocate for yoga. “After practicing yoga when I feel stressed, I feel calm and clear headed and always have a positive outlook on life. I haven’t tried all the styles of yoga, but so far, Ashtanga yoga is my favorite because it’s slightly more vigorous!”
Ashtanga yoga is similar to Vinyasa yoga which is mentioned above, as it follows a specific sequence of postures wherein breath links the movements into these postures.
The way stress affects your body and mind differs for everyone, but the effects are almost always negative. Stress can give you headaches, muscle tension, loss of appetite (or force you to eat unhealthy food options), cause fatigue, give you sleep problems and overall make your body really unhappy.
Stress doesn’t just affect your body in physical ways, as you probably know—it has a large amount of negative effects on the mind as well. It can cause anxiety and restlessness as well as make you feel overwhelmed. It can also cause a lack of motivation and ability to focus, and even affect moods and increase irritability or depression. These negative effects will mark one’s behavior with outbursts, leaning to drugs and alcohol and social withdrawal.
Yoga can work wonders for anyone who is willing to try it, especially for students who face the everyday stress of school work. Even just practicing yoga for ten minutes a day can help reduce your stress and keep you focused and feeling happy.
Next time your body is overwhelmed by stress, manage it by doing some yoga! Not only does it provide mental and physical benefits, but it also promotes a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Maren Nordhoy is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. They can be reached at MN827840@wcupa.edu.