When most people think of yoga, the picture is usually a 40-something female with coffee in hand, ready to take on the day. It is not often paired with people who have stress management issues, anxiety or chronic illnesses.
The practice of yoga has been around for nearly 5,000 years, but the past 10 years have brought yoga to the forefront of de-stressing conversations. Yoga is a mind and body centric practice that has many health benefits, such as improved range of motion and strength, as well as reduction of high blood pressure, pain and insomnia.
Lindsey Wilcox of Downtown Yoga first began practicing yoga to help with her stress and anxiety levels. Yin and Restorative yoga, more slow-paced yoga, have been shown to be the most effective for stress management.
“Yoga helps with stress more than anything I’ve tried,” Wilcox said. “You center your mind and body, finding a comfortable balance.”
Yoga has three core components to help improve quality of life: postures, breathing and meditation. Postures or poses are the movements that people use to increase strength and flexibility. Breathing, which is often associated with meditation, helps control body movements and quiet the mind.
Stress can resonate with people from all walks of life. Often brushed to the side, chronic stress can cause dangerous mental and physical conditions. Stress can cause body aches, irregular menstrual cycles and weight management, which are common among college-age students.
Depression is also a dangerous side-effect of stress. The body also becomes more susceptible to illnesses because stress has such a negative effect on the body’s immune system.
As college students, often times it is hard for us to make time to relax. Between school, work and friends, life can be exhausting, but even 15 minutes’ worth of yoga each day can improve our moods and overall health. Each week, ETSU’s Basler Center for Physical Activity hosts hour-long yoga classes from beginner to advanced levels.
“No one is ever too young or too old for yoga,” Wilcox said.
Seeing poses of people contorted in ways unimaginable seems intimidating, but there are plenty of yoga poses fit for all body types and abilities.
For beginners, these stress-relief poses help tremendously: downward dog, child’s pose, corpse pose, puppy pose, pigeon pose and the legs up the wall pose.
There are many different types of yoga, but slow-paced, calming classes and poses are more beneficial to reducing stress than more strenuous types, especially in the beginning.
Yoga is something that has proven to be effective on stress. Many students live in small dorm rooms, so yoga is helpful in the way that it does not require many supplies or much room. College is a difficult time for all and taking small steps to ensure your health throughout this time is important.
For more information on ETSU’s group fitness yoga classes, visit http://www.etsu.edu/students/campusrec/fitnessprograms/groupfitness.aspx.