Disclaimer: You should consult your physician or another health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program.
College students face a significant amount of stress and anxiety, especially as finals approach. Whether they must take a 100-question test or complete a 10-page paper, finals time equals stress time. There are holistic practices that students can use to alleviate their stress and anxiety: yoga and meditation. Not only do these practices help with stress and anxiety, but they also help with focus.
What Are Yoga and Meditation?
Yoga is an ancient practice dating back over 5,000 years ago in India. It originates from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” — meaning “union” or “to join.” The ideology behind yoga is to connect the body, mind and spirit to heal the whole person, not just segments. Dr. Natalie Nevis, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, said, “The purpose of yoga is to create strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body.”
Meditation is another body, mind and spirit practice that dates back thousands of years. The purpose of meditation is to develop awareness and mindfulness to help ground yourself in the present moment by training the mind to focus and redirect thoughts.
Neither practice requires the user to believe in a particular spiritual or religious practice, but the user can incorporate yoga and meditation into spiritual or religious rituals.
Yoga and meditation yield numerous health benefits for the mind, body and spirit.
- Stress reduction
- Anxiety reduction
- Depression reduction
- Better breathing
- Improved muscle strength
- Enhanced flexibility
- Better heart health
- Improved overall well-being
- Enhanced quality of life
- Increased focus
- Enhanced mood
- Stress reduction
- Improved sleep
- Reduced aggression
- Greater adaptability
- Lowered blood pressure
- Enhanced quality of life
- Enhanced emotional regulation
- Help with depression and anxiety disorders
- A greater sense of empathy and connection with self and others
Different Yoga Styles
- Restorative Yoga
- Resets nervous system while alleviating harmful stress to feel thoroughly supported and relaxed
- A relaxing, meditative yoga style
- Yin Yoga
- Brings positive stress to the joints and connective tissue for increased flexibility to release tension
- Requires a lot of stretching while forcing the person to slow down
- Yoga Nidra
- Deep relaxation to tap into the subconscious
- A meditative yoga
Many options exist for students who prefer in-person classes within a group setting: college campuses, gyms, yoga studios, etc. Most instructors list their courses on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. However, many yoga instructors post their videos for free on YouTube for students who need to save money or prefer to practice at home. Many YouTube yoga instructors mix various styles of yoga to create a practice that eases anxiety and stress.
Yoga With Adriene offers a fantastic variety of guided yoga and meditation videos and provides a relaxing and fun atmosphere for her viewers. Adriene’s videos range from beginner to advanced, and the length of her videos ranges from less than 10 minutes to over an hour, so it is easy for college students to find a video that matches their schedule. Her channel has an entire playlist dedicated to stress and anxiety.
Another channel that offers a variety of yoga videos for stress and anxiety is Yoga Dose. Most video instructors are men, demonstrating the gender neutrality of yoga. The channel provides a few videos for stress and anxiety, ranging from beginner to intermediate levels.
Arianna Elizabeth fosters a relaxing atmosphere with her yoga and meditation videos. While guiding you through her yoga routines, calming music gently cascades in the background. Like Adriane, Arianna’s videos range from beginner to intermediate, but the stress and anxiety videos focus on simplicity to ensure more people can make use of these fantastic videos.
Different Meditation Styles
Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D. composed a great list of 12 different meditations that help with stress and anxiety.
- Mindfulness meditation
- Increases awareness of the present moment by slowing down racing thoughts, releasing negativity, and calming the mind and body
- Chocolate meditation
- Researchers discovered that chocolate reduces stress
- Requires the consumption of chocolate and focusing on its sweet deliciousness
- Loving-kindness meditation
- Involves focusing on love for the self and loved ones
- Music meditation
- Uses soft and calm music as a focal point to relax while meditating
- Bath meditation
- Meditate while soaking in a warm tub
- Option to use bubbles, bath salts, etc. to enhance the experience
- Body scan meditation
- A mental scan of the body, one section at a time, noticing how each part feels, starting at the feet and working up to the head
- Walking meditation
- Walk in thought
- Mantra meditation
- Repeating a word or phrase out loud or mentally to aid concentration
- Brief meditation
- Short five to 10-minute meditation sessions
- Aromatherapy meditation
- Meditate while using incense, burning oils or scented candles
Students can join a meditation group on campus or search for meditation classes in their local area. Some coaches offer remote courses as well.
For students who prefer more solitary meditation experiences, YouTube has a limitless supply of meditation videos and calming music to play during meditation. Music apps like Spotify are excellent tools for guided meditation and relaxing music as well.
To get the most out of a yoga and meditation practice, students must experiment with different varieties to see which one(s) works best according to their schedule, preferences and comfort. Some people meditate better with guided meditation, others with calming music or silence. Certain people may find a slow-paced yoga routine more soothing, while others need something requiring more movement.
Mental wellness is a journey that bestows remarkable benefits on those willing to make time for self-discovery. Namaste.