Yoga may help students relieve stress

Brittney Christ

The first week of school can be an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful one as well. Many students turn to exercise to relieve stress and decompress.

One popular exercise is yoga. It is taking off all over social media, especially on Instagram and Pinterest, where yogis- those who practice yoga- can share their pose variations.

Yoga is proven to help many physical and mental ailments ranging from fibromyalgia to depression and anxiety.

Yoga Basics, a website devoted to Yoga and its many branches, informs that yoga has a long history, dating back over 5,000 years, originating in Northern India. It only took off in western culture after 1947- the same year Sac State was established-when yoga was brought to Hollywood. Since then, it has been steadily gaining popularity with the help of celebrity attention.

The main difference between modern and traditional yoga is that to those who practice traditionally, as yoga was intended. Yoga is a complete system, in which the physical part is just that, a part. “Yoga” referred to the whole, and was completely spiritual.

Today, most people believe that yoga refers solely to the physical postures (Asanas) and that it is just a way to exercise. In reality, the opposite is true.

Yoga is a spiritual system with a physical component and is a part of the Hindu religion.

According to Traditional Yoga and Meditation of the Himalayan Masters, “To say that Yoga is merely physical fitness…is like saying that Christian…baptism is nothing more than taking a shower or bath. The goal of Yoga is Yoga.”

There are many forms of yoga, however, they are all branched off of Hatha yoga.

Hatha is the foundation of all yoga styles. It incorporates Asanas (postures), Pranayama (regulated breathing), Meditation, and Kundalini (spiritual awakening achieved through all of the above).

Some of the other popular forms of yoga in the U.S. are Bikram, Ashtanga and Restorative and Yin Yoga.

Bikram was founded in 1963 by Bikram Choudhury, and is practiced in 95-105 degree temperature, which promotes better flexibility, detoxification, and the prevention of injuries. This is the only form of yoga that revolves around heat logistics as a part of the yoga practice.

Ashtanga is a physically demanding form of yoga because it involves synchronizing your breathing with a continuous series of postures. This produces intense internal heat and a profuse amount of sweat that is shown to detoxify muscles and organs. This form of yoga is not for beginners due to the athletic nature.

Restorative and Yin Yoga relies on a lack of movement, in which you will spend long periods of time in one pose or lying on blocks. This allows the muscles to relax, and instead focus the energy on restoring the joints and other connective tissue. This is considered a passive form of yoga, however, it is great for those that have injuries or want to have a long, calming session.

Sacramento State’s Yoga and Meditation Club states on their web page,”[Yoga is] designed for people of all ages and levels of fitness…you work at your own pace, listening to your body, gradually encouraging it to stretch and strengthen – when it’s ready.”

If you want to get your Downward Dog on, the Yoga and Meditation Club meets from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Valley Suite on the third floor of the University Union every Thursday while school is in session. The WELL also has a Mind/Body pass for $48 a semester and has multiple class sessions every week.

However, if you want to join a yoga studio off campus, there are options: One Flow Yoga Studio, Sacramento Bikram Yoga, and Yoga Loka are all very close in proximity to campus, and boast great reviews on Yelp.

Holly O’Donnell, an avid yogini said, “I started yoga because I needed something more than just a work out; I needed peace of mind, a way to breathe and appreciate life as it is without trying to change it. A lot of people don’t understand how much of a work out yoga is for your body…people really don’t understand how much it improves your self image.”

Yoga not only strengthens your body, but also your mind.