The benefits of yoga in student life

This exercise busts stress and helps with overcoming perfectionism

For many people, yoga is more than just an exercise.

I still remember how relaxed and calm I felt after my first yoga class in high school.

I started bringing the techniques I learned in the classes back to my friends at school. Together, we would lay in the middle of the hallway during our free period. I clumsily guided us through a meditation that mostly consisted of relaxing in corpse pose, lying on our backs and relaxing our bodies, and imagining our backs were melting butter.

But when I went off to university, I dropped my yoga practice like it was an ex-partner. I didn’t have the time—or money—to attend classes at a studio when there were courses to take, exams to write, and so many new things to learn and experience.

Looking back, I wish I’d realized I could afford to take that one hour a week for myself.

If you’re looking for ways to manage stress and find mental clarity, yoga can help. Whether you want to sweat it all out and move your body in a flowing hot yoga class, or you’d rather lay on the floor for an hour and let it all go, yoga has something for you.

The combination of movement and meditation that yoga is built on is powerful. Even if I’m having the worst day ever, I know that if I make time to get on the mat, I’ll find my centre again and remember what it feels like to breathe freely.

Another major benefit of doing yoga as a student is the emphasis it places on practice, not perfection.

I really struggle with perfectionism. Yoga helps with this because it isn’t about competing with others, or even about competing with yourself. Instead, it’s a perfect combination of effort and ease—in contrast to the other fast-paced, demanding responsibilities tied to being a student.

Yoga is about embracing a growth mindset and accepting challenges as opportunities for growth. However, at the same time, the practice doesn’t ask you to push past your boundaries. It’s more than enough to find your limits and lean into them.

Some days, you might get nothing out of a certain yoga pose. Other days, that same pose may help you reflect deeply on your life or find peace.

A yoga mat is the ultimate safe space to express all of your emotions, worries, and thoughts. That’s something I’ve realized since starting yoga, and it may ring true for you also.

While I wish I’d gotten back into yoga sooner because it keeps me breathing as a graduate student, the beautiful thing I learned when I finally made it back to the mat is that yoga will always be there. It doesn’t change, even as the person doing it does, and that’s intensely comforting.

Take a deep breath, pull up a video on YouTube, or find a class to try—Queen’s Yoga Club has lots of options. Better yet, grab a buddy and get on your mats together. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

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