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Yoga and Mental Health

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Author: 
Ann Steeves
Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I’ve always loved stretching and meditating. I can attribute this practice to my mom, who teaches Hatha yoga. Growing up, stretching was a part of my daily life. If I were stressed, I would do some stretches and deep breathing to try to calm down. This practice has followed me to college and has helped me calm down many times when overwhelmed with academic and personal commitments. I usually have practiced on my own, but have recently started taking yoga classes downtown at Three Bridges Yoga . I am really enjoying the structured classes. Classes provide guidance through different postures and new challenges to try. Yoga is all about controlling one’s breath—the practice of pranayama. As you control your breath, you become mindful of your body.  Controlling your breath creates an inner-peace, which will help you control your energy. Try this practice today, by dedicating some time for yourself. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and first notice your breathing pattern. Begin to take in long, deep breaths, holding the air in your lungs for a moment in between inhales and exhales. A brief practice of controlled breathing will give you energy to continue throughout your day. 

A Harvard School of Public Health newsletter states that studies suggest yoga reduces the impact of stress responses and helps individuals cope with anxiety and depression. I can attest to this as I have struggled with anxiety, and yoga has given me strength to work through anxious thoughts. Three Bridges downtown is currently offering a great deal for UNH students—just $25 a month for unlimited yoga. There are between 3 and 6 classes every day. There are many opportunities for yoga on campus with classes at Campus Rec for students and in the Paul Creative Art Center for faculty and staff. There are also FREE yoga classes on campus Wednesdays and Fridays from 12-1pm in the MUB’s Wildcat Den. Find out more about yoga opportunities on campus. A national survey estimated that only 4% of U.S. adults have practiced yoga in the previous year. With the high rates of anxiety and depression in today’s society, give yoga a try! If anything, take some time to practice deep breathing exercises and see how it makes you feel. 

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