OPINION: Yoga benefits mental, physical health

Yoga is the answer for anyone looking to get a workout, mental decompression



Yoga comes with a whole host of benefits, both mentally and physically.


For many college students, there is always a time when we are stressed about an assignment, test or worried about passing a class. My first year of college did not go as expected, and my spring semester was cut short with all classes going online. It was a particularly stressful time, coupled with trying to learn from home with slower internet connection.

At the beginning of last year’s spring semester when times were considered normal, I decided to take a beginner’s yoga class. It was a nice hour of my day spent after classes focusing on myself while getting some exercise in without feeling like I ran three miles. I discovered there are many physical, mental and emotional health benefits from doing yoga.

To some, yoga may seem like an abnormal way of exercising, but it provides you with physical health benefits.

When I first started practicing yoga, I thought I was a fairly flexible person. I soon learned I was wrong when I tried to touch my toes, and I could not. After a few practices, I felt more comfortable and I saw an improvement in my flexibility. It takes time and patience to do certain movements. 

Kathryn Jones, yoga instructor at UREC, said yoga helps increase our flexibility.

“Overall, [yoga is] just a great way to round out your physical activity,” Jones said.

There are also mental and emotional benefits of doing yoga. When I practice, I feel more relaxed and in the moment. I’m not worrying about things going on in my life.

Aletha Lassiter, yoga instructor at WSU, said she focuses on the mindfulness aspect of yoga.

“When we are more mindfully in tune with our body, we can make choices that we assess that are good for us rather than it being an impulse,” Lassiter said.

Yoga can help us become more self-aware and help us live in the moment. Mindfulness from yoga can help us be more thoughtful and make better decisions. When you are sitting and focusing on taking deep breaths, you learn to cancel out the world around you.

When we think of yoga, we normally picture a mat, workout clothes and some music playing in the background. However, we can actually practice yoga by sitting in a chair or simply standing; anyone can practice yoga, and it can be practiced nearly everywhere.

Ajay Barman, yoga instructor at UREC, said we can learn important breathing techniques.

“We don’t need any gym equipment,” Barman said. “We don’t have to go anywhere. We can do this from our home.”

Learning breathing techniques can help decrease stress and help us remain focused on what is happening at the moment. I often find this exercise helpful before taking exams or while doing an assignment that seems 100 times more difficult than it should be.

There are many different ways to practice yoga whether it is breathing or doing more demanding techniques. I encourage everyone to try yoga, whether you are physically fit or not, at least once because it is a very helpful thing to do to cope with stress, particularly during a hectic time like now.

If you are interested in trying yoga, there are many free videos available online. UREC is also offering different types of yoga classes both online and in-person. If you’re looking for extra class credit, you can take a PE yoga class at WSU.

Whichever way you decide to try yoga, I believe you will find it advantageous and rewarding to your health and well-being.