In 2020, the American Psychological Association performed a study where they discovered that 90% of college students reported having a significant amount of stress. These students cited education as the source. With busy schedules, students often struggle to find time and activities to help de-stress. Yoga has been proven to have great physical and mental benefits, including stress relief.
As Waynesburg University students and students across the nation enter into the month September, they also enter into National Yoga Awareness Month. Many students are uninformed about the mental and physical benefits that practicing yoga can bring.
Across campus there are students and staff that currently partake in the practice of yoga and have received great benefits from it.
Q: What made you first get into the practice of Yoga and how do you think it has psychically and mentally helped you?
A: What first made me get into yoga was the stress relief benefits. I would say it helps me stay in the present moment when I am practicing it. You kind of get into a meditative state while moving.
Olivia Sanbicente, freshman english major
Q: Have you ever participated in yoga? If so, what aspects of your life have benefitted from practicing it?
A: I first got into yoga in high school. I used to wake up at 5 a.m. before school to do it. It was a great way to start my day. It was relaxing and an important time for me to reflect on my day or week.
Rachel Jak, sophomore and active member of ROTC
Q: From an Athlete standpoint, how do you think you have benefitted both physically and mentally from yoga?
A: Yoga has been a staple for balancing my mental and physical health. It is a really good way to release stress and tension, while activating muscle groups and boosting recovery. I’ve found yoga to be a healthy response to discomfort, both mentally and physically. It’s taught me skills when dealing with stress both on and off the field.
Damaree Livingston, freshman Waynesburg Women’s Soccer player
Q: How would you compare your past self, before practicing yoga, to yourself now, after partaking in yoga quite often?
A: Physically, I feel that it has helped improve not only my flexibility but also my strength. Mentally I feel that it has helped me calm down when I am on the field. I tend to be a spastic player, so by practicing yoga I have been able to slow down and read the game more accurately.
Meghan Briski, Waynesburg University Women’s Soccer senior
Q: With your professional experience and education on the human body and mind, what are some of the mental benefits that those partaking in yoga receive?
A: Yoga is the perfect time to meditate. A key component to it is your breathing. As you hold the complex stretching positions, it is important to focus on your breathing. Not only will it increase the depth of the stretch, but it is where you work on the meditation component. This is where you clear your mind, focus on your body and self-enhancement. Life is chaotic and pulls you in so many different directions. Taking that time to rest, reflect and meditate helps provide you with a break from the mental and emotional overload.
James Roundtree, Waynesburg University’s Assistant Athletic Trainer
Q: Being a professor on campus that teaches a Wellness class on yoga, how do you think it is mentally beneficial to those who practice it and what advice do you offer to beginners and those who do not practice it?
A: Yoga is more than stretching and twisting postures. It also includes breath work, concentration, meditation and relaxation. The benefits of a mindful yoga practice include muscle strength and endurance, increased flexibility of joints, and an increase in balance. Yoga teaches us to become mindful, to notice and observe ourselves in the present moment. Through meditation and relaxation the nervous system relaxes which can result in a lower heart rate, blood pressure lowers or stabilizes and it creates a general feeling of well-being.
I recommend new students to find a qualified, experienced teacher. Try not to compare yourself with other yogis in the class who may have been practicing for a long time. Most importantly, listen to your own body only doing what is comfortable for you.
Lynn Duda, Waynesburg University Professor