In the midst of everything college entails — classes, socializing, sports and extracurriculars, planning for your future — many students forget to do one crucial, deceptively obvious act: Breathe. Integrating yoga into your life provides you with the tools to find stability in the midst of semesterly stress. Although yoga is a fantastic physical and mental activity during any period of a woman’s life, it’s especially beneficial during her college years for the following reasons, among many others:
• It helps you balance: Tree Pose isn’t the only balancing yoga helps you achieve; yoga is a metaphor for how to handle life outside of your campus gym. It’s a unique activity in that it synthesizes physical exertion with mental focus, so you leave your yoga practice feeling refreshed and energized inside and out. Your yoga instructor will teach you how to integrate this balance into your everyday life as well. It’s easy to forget about your mental and spiritual well-being amidst the bustle of college life, but yoga is a centered, stabilizing break from outside expectations.
• It’s flexible: You can become a yogi virtually anywhere. Most colleges offer yoga classes in their fitness roster, but if you don’t have the time to commit to an hour-long practice every week, there are other options available. You can download free podcasts online, search for beginner to advanced YouTube videos, find an instructional book in the library, even join or start a club for practicing yogis on your campus. You can work your yoga practices around your own busy schedule; you can do a five-minute sun salutation before bed or in the morning or dedicate a whole hour to your practice during the weekends.
• It’s a great workout: Yoga is much harder than it looks. You’ll be amazed at the intense, full-body workout you can get from a yoga practice. Even a beginner class can make your legs and core wobbly for days. From balance and strength to flexibility and cardio, yoga is surprisingly challenging. And because yoga is about self-improvement, you can make your practice as light or difficult as you need it to be.
• It’s about you: Unlike many athletic practices, yoga is entirely selfish. There’s no competition in a yoga classroom; each practice is about the individual, not how she compares with everyone else. Flexibility doesn’t mandate who is “good” at yoga. Instead, a successful yogi is someone dedicated to self-improvement, in mind, body and spirit. Yoga is tied to positive body image, improved concentration, self esteem, and relaxation — it’s all about respecting yourself, inside and out.