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How Can Yoga Benefit You?

By Katelin Archer, Alvernia University

How Can Yoga Benefit You?

Anxiety is a common problem among many of us. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Every year, anxiety affects 18.1% of the population.” It is defined as being your body’s natural response to stress and is the feeling of being fearful and nervous about what is to come. Anxiety is becoming a more pressing issue today, particularly within the college communities. Statistics show that a greater deal of the student population in America is suffering from anxiety more than they were decades ago. Although there are many techniques used to relieve anxiety, one that has helped me, which I would recommend, is yoga.

The Fall 2018 National College Health Assessment, created by the American College Health Association, stated that 63% of college students in the United States had been accustomed to the feelings of overwhelming anxiety in the past year. It is often caused by the state of uncertainty of what lies ahead. For example, when students go off to college for the first time, often question the unknown- “What if I don’t make friends? What if I don’t like my major?” This is supported by the fact that the height of anxiety levels among the population is usually highest in the initial transition to college.

The main reasons why anxiety may remain high during the first year of college could be related to excessive intake of caffeine and staying up for long periods of the night. This potentially causes sleep disruption and feelings of loneliness. However, it is unclear what causes this trend in anxiety in first-year students.

An effective way to control one’s anxiety levels is yoga. From experience, this has benefited me greatly with my anxiety levels. What is yoga? The term yoga means to unite. To unite your body with your mind in a pure form. It is thought to be a self-soothing technique that naturally calms the body. It regulates your stress response system by reducing heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Moreover, the various positions taught during class can stretch the muscles in your body to help reduce any tension built up over time, while the breathing techniques could be used in situations where anxiety may flare-up. Yoga not only benefits individuals physically but also mentally by teaching us about self-acceptance. This is achieved by the positive energy expressed in the room as it allows you to accept your struggles, and still love yourself.

The style of yoga offered by Alvernia University is an “energetic, bright, playful flowing movement that will fire up your energy. It is an inclusive, non-judgemental class, suitable for any level of experience with yoga. All you need is to show up, bring a mat, and wear comfortable clothing.”

If yoga is not for you, there are other alternatives to help reduce anxiety levels. For example, reaching out for help through the services available to you on your college campus or in your local community. On the other hand, getting regular exercise, eating healthily, getting a decent night’s sleep, and overall establishing a routine for yourself. You could also try getting involved in the community around you. This can provide you with a support network but also offers you a break away from your day to day activities.