I was born to move.
I walked at eight months. I took ballet, jazz, gymnastics, pilates and tap classes, tried soccer for a few years and spent over ten years as a competitive figure skater.
My decision to go to college required that I transition out of the life of a competitive athlete, and that is when I found yoga. I feel so lucky to have started my practice when I did, because I don’t know how I would have survived college without it.
These are 10 reasons why I found it beneficial to practice yoga during college:
This is such a powerful metaphor. The goal is to feel balanced on the mat in order to feel balanced off the mat. Incorporating this concept into your life is important, whether it begins with balancing on one leg in vrksasana (tree pose) or on your hands in bakasana (crow).
In theory, we’re all striving for balance in our lives in order to find more freedom to do what we want.
2. It feels good.
High lunge twist, wild thing, peaceful warrior. You have to let the movements feel good, which requires a certain level of vulnerability and willingness. You must truly surrender, releasing any attachment or inflated ego concerning how the pose is supposed to look.
The deeper you release, the better it feels.
Learn to listen to your body and you will discover how you like to move, which poses challenge you the most and which feel the best.
3. Sanity and stress.
Whew, okay. You know those times when you are so incredibly stressed out and overwhelmed that you feel completely frozen? Your to-do lists are so long that you don’t know where to start and you can’t focus or summon the motivation to even try to tackle that mountain of work?
Those are the times when your yoga practice most brilliantly comes to the rescue. I’ve realized that the more hectic my school schedule is, the more I crave movement, the more I need to sweat and the more I like inversions.
The week of multiple midterms and eight-page papers is not the time for a yin or restorative class; it is the perfect situation for that super-sweaty, high-energy, take-my-mind-off-of-everything distraction.
4. Health and wellness.
I can’t help but wonder if integrating yoga into college life would lead to less people popping Adderall pills in the library, pulling “all-nighters” for a midterm and drinking to the point of blacking out on the weekends. Show some respect for what you put into your body and the impact that it has on your life.
Be discerning; the same skills you are taught in order to be mindful and intentional as students can be applied towards your health and wellness.
Yoga is not simply a form of exercise, the physical element is merely one component of the practice. But the indisputable truth is the physical benefits of yoga are huge. Your practice will make you feel stronger, thinner, sexier and more flexible.
We are energetic beings. There is something indescribably powerful about being in a room packed full of individuals who are moving and breathing together as one entity while having individual introspective experiences. This is the beautiful paradox of a yoga class.
Everywhere we go, we feed on the energy of the people with which we share space, and this energy can be powerful and transformative.
Your yoga practice can be so many different moods—playful, meditative, therapeutic—you get to choose. You are the creator, so create something meaningful. You are in control of the practice. How rad is that?
8. Body awareness.
I hear people acknowledge the importance of “body awareness” all the time, but I rarely get the impression that they are truly connected to their bodies. It all comes back to the mat.
Where are you in space? Where is your right pinky-toe, your knee, your left shoulder? Wherever you are, however you’re sitting or standing or laying, let there be a continuous underlying consciousness of your body.
9. Connect to your breath.
Just the other day, I heard a girl in my class say that she went to her very first yoga class but left after only 10 minutes because all they were doing was breath work. She laughed and said, “I mean, come on. I’m alive, right? I clearly have got this whole breathing thing down.”
(Eyeroll) Sorry, but there’s so much more to it.
The breath is the thread that links together all of the aspects of the yoga practice—the movement, the philosophical components, the emotional effects. Yoga is a moving meditation and every movement is intrinsically yoked to the breath.
10. Create a life-long practice.
A yoga practice is a life practice. As complex, constantly growing, learning, changing, feeling beings, we are forever students. If we allow ourselves to be open to what yoga has to teach us, we will continue to be amazed by all of the ways that our practice improves our own life and enhances our ability to benefit the lives of those around us.
Life is beautiful. Go live it.
Justine Malick teaches a powerful and playful vinyasa flow in Santa Barbara, California while studying Global and International Studies at UCSB. She is inspired by movement and the body. Through her classes, she invites students to explore mind-body connection as well as to develop a keener sense of awareness both on and off the mat. Visit Justine on Facebook to connect with her.
Editor: Olivia Gray
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