This is probably going to sound very #granola, but college is a great place to try yoga for the first time. I’m not pushing you to become the world’s biggest yogi, carry around a personalized yoga mat or purchase a gong for your dorm room (unless you want t0), but the next time you’re feeling the weight of exams, assignments and other college obligations, consider starting your day with a sun salutation.
Two words: Stress. Relief.
While meditation is a central element of yoga, don’t let the idea of “finding your center” intimidate you. The great part about yoga is that you can practice it as casually or as seriously as you want; some people truly connect with the spiritual aspect of yoga, but others enjoy it for the relaxation component. While going to an hour-long yoga class is not a huge chunk out of my day, it is an hour spent not thinking about my schedule, my math homework, my projects – which feels amazing.
College students are constantly reminded to get involved, to stay busy and to make the most of opportunities on and off campus – but above all, it’s important to take care of ourselves. Whether you sign up for a class at your student recreation center or watch an instructional YouTube video in your dorm, practicing yoga is a positive and fun way to manage stress, especially in college, where exercise classes and resources may be discounted or even included in student fees.
Social vs. Solitude: Best of both worlds.
In college, we are always surrounded by people; even when we are “alone” in our rooms, are we ever alone? With roommates, hall-mates, friends, acquaintances, etc., it’s sometimes hard to get a moment to ourselves. Yoga embodies the idea of balance and obtaining balance in many aspects of our life. Practicing yoga in college provides an opportunity to spend time with friends and meet new people, but it also allows for moments of self-reflection and much-needed alone time. Having this balance of socialization and serenity is important, especially when we feel overwhelmed and overworked. Yoga may also show you that you are not alone in your stress; you may meet other students who enjoy yoga for the same reasons as you – or they may bring to light another way the form of exercise and meditation speaks to them.
All levels of athleticism are welcomed.
You don’t have to be a body-builder or a LuluLemon model to try your hand at yoga. Perhaps you’re a student athlete, or maybe you’ve never set foot in the gym – but have no fear: The beauty of yoga is that the poses and positions can be adapted for all levels of experience and flexibility. If you’re looking to get more involved in exercise classes at your recreation center on campus, I think yoga is a great place to start. Yoga is a great way to improve your balance, agility, flexibility and overall well-being without feeling initially intimidated by unfamiliar equipment, heavy weights, too-enthusiastic instructors and loud electronic “remix” songs.
Better you, better grades.
The benefits of yoga stretch far beyond the body and the spirit. Practicing yoga is correlated to improved academic performance, says this article from Livestrong.com. Yoga does not have to be a time-consuming obligation; adding small, adaptable elements of the exercise, such as breathing patterns, stretching and meditation, into your daily routine can make a big impact on your mood and even your motivation in school. So, the next time you need a study break, consider taking a few minutes to a half hour to stretch, practice your favorite poses, or try deep breathing to calm your nerves and remind yourself that you are working hard and doing your best.
In college, we are constantly bombarded with new opportunities and chances to try new things. Even though yoga is commonly portrayed as a big “trend,” consider pushing the preconceived notions aside and trying it out for yourself. You may just find that it is a great way to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of campus life – even just for a few moments.