A student lifestyle often consists of a recurring routine with course work, grades and sleep and not much of a social life especially for those overachievers. This type of student lifestyle can be a bit cruel on the mind and the body.

When I was a freshman at the University of Washington (UW), graduation seemed so far away. The thrill of being a college student and finally leaving high school behind was still vivid. There was a period of relief, which did not last long. I started realizing that with the demanding pace of college, I would burn out. Then, the “aha” moment hit me when I realized I need to do something about it.

Yoga can be a great stress reliever

In my sophomore year, I was overwhelmed by all of the stress — a great amount of school work, complicated social circles, activities hosted by different clubs and the pressure to get into a “good” major. Not to mention that along the way, my over-achieving personality, led me to register for Computer Science and Engineering classes, which totally depressed me. [This experience showed me that you shouldn’t fight your passions, which for me, has always been Public Relations.] To be honest, honoring yourself can be so difficult, unless you understand how to listen to your inner voice — something most students often don’t find the time to think about.

I was making positive growth in both my academic and social lives. I was accepted into UW’s communications major and I was participating in many different student clubs. But mentally and spiritually, I was battling occasional anxiety and depression. Even though I purposely left some free time to relax and refresh, there were still so many things going on in my mind, I just couldn’t relax. Not surprisingly, one of my friends had the same problem. We came to the conclusion that we needed to do something about it.

“Why not try yoga,” she suggested.

Her mom did yoga for a year, and she had seen the positive effects of yoga in her life, specifically minimizing her stress.

Besides, my parents have always said that I need to find the balance between work and exercising in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so I decided to try yoga.

My first class was not easy. Although Hatha Yoga is rather gentle, basic and slow- paced, it does require a lot of stretching and persistence. For beginners like me, it is hard to maintain balance between focusing on posture and breathing. Eventually, the soft music playing in the background helped and I was able to find a sense of peace. I also liked the little meditation towards the end of the class, which was such a relief. I almost fell asleep.

Yoga can be a great physical exercise

Through yoga, I also experienced physical changes. One of my friends was amazed by my new appearance.

“Did you lose weight or something?” she asked, looking a little jealous.

I didn’t attempt to lose weight, but yoga seemed to have transformed me physically. As a new yogi, I was starting to experience the different benefits the practice had to offer and many of my friends started to learn about yoga, too. Along the way, I learned a lot about myself: to trust my inner self and be brave enough to make the choices that are good for me.

One dark winter evening, I was on my way to a yoga class. I remember wearing a warm winter coat. All of a sudden, the peaceful night hit me, with its quietness, the cool breeze and the cold fresh air. I was finally able to see happiness from the quietness; my mind was nourished and content. I was able to see and enjoy my surroundings. This night marked the new way I started seeing the world, or at least my world.

Last spring, I joined a study abroad program and went to countries in South-East Asia, like Thailand. Besides discovering their unique and exotic culture, I had the chance to learn more about the practice of meditation. The more I learn about yoga, the more I see how its benefits can have a tremendous impact on a student’s life. Today, I approach tasks with an ease that I didn’t have before, and life is just better.

If you are a college student, it might be time for you to try yoga.

[Photo by CollegeDegrees360 – CC BY]

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