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I started college with the notion of good grades, social life or enough sleep. Pick two
Moving into my first house this past fall has done nothing but verified this statement.
Working on your bachelor’s while simultaneously working to pay the bills can leave the brain fried. By the end of the fall semester, I was burnt out, ecstatic for a month of freedom, and dreading going back in the spring. Back to days with brains like scrambled eggs, constantly updating a mental calendar of the day’s to-do’s; turn in this, revise that, reply to that email, order that part for the sink, do the laundry, do we have any milk?
By the end of it, I knew I was going to have to restrategize my game plan of life if I was going to graduate anywhere in the near future.
It wasn’t until an early morning in Toronto, Canada over the holidays where I found myself wandering into my first yoga session – and discovering a tool to put my mind at ease during a hazy, frantic semester.
You see, yoga goes beyond just getting flexy and fit – for thousands of years, the practice of yoga has taught mindfulness. Mindfulness is no more than being present, or conscious of the moment. What seems like such a simple thing is something that gets lost in the average college student’s every day hustle and bustle. Beyond that, yoga teaches self-appreciation, encouraging an individual to thank oneself for practicing and being kind to their body.
A yoga session shows you where you’re holding tension both physically and mentally.
Take a second and relax your shoulders, relax your jaw and your facial muscles – we tend to hold tension we may not be aware of, but its there.
And it inadvertently affects your state of mind. The same can be said true about what lingers on outside the classroom – things that get pushed to the back of the mind to deal with after class that can end up putting a haze on the whole day.
Every day when I come to the mat, I take a hard look at what’s been getting under my skin, what I’m stressed or worried about and what I should best do about these things. Overall, I focus on being mindful of the issues at hand. To practice mindfulness is to become conscious of these tensions in life, assess how best to deal with them, and then do so.
Your problems this week will not be the same set as next’s, the best thing you can do is be conscious of where you presently are and handle your hurdles accordingly. What you do on the mat will show you exactly where your tension lingers.
Yoga is for all body shapes, sizes, ages, flexibility, and fitness levels.
Seriously, one of the greatest things about practicing yoga is that the only person you’re ever competing with is yourself.
If you’re insecure about going to a class just yet, there are plenty of YouTube sessions available online to do in the privacy of your living room.
A session can be as quick as ten minutes or as long as three hours (or however long you want, really), meaning it can fit in your schedule early morning before class or late at night after studying.
Twenty minutes a day of turning your brain off to focus only on your breathing will do wonders for stress levels and anxiety, two things that tend to take a hike during semesters.
Yoga can benefit you during your semester.
When you start spending a lot of time trying to think about nothing, it sharpens your skills when you actually are concentrating on something. Along with better concentration skills, yoga also helps you to focus your listening abilities.
If you’ve been in university beyond your first semester, you know it takes skills to get through an hour and fifteen minute lecture.
Along with creating a sharper mind, yoga can be an easy way to socialize and create comradery.
There are a handful of yoga studios on this side of the river, Bikram Yoga, Inner Spring Yoga, even the YMCAs offer yoga classes and a lot of the studios offer a discount to students. You can even pick up a yoga mat from the bookstore here at IU Southeast.
One of the best and more immediate effects of yoga is an overall enhanced mood. After meditating on my challenges for the day, I feel more ready to take on the day head on. During a crazy week full of deadlines, long shifts and longer readings, keeping a positive attitude is crucial in order to not crack.
So the next time you find yourself whizzing through life at 60 miles an hour, take ten minutes to try a vinyasa flow, or stretch into downward dog or warrior pose. Most of all, be mindful of your current state in life, and be appreciative towards yourself for all of the hard work you’ve done.