yoga-grassFinal exams are upon us and that means that tens of thousands of college students across the country are in full-on stress mode. With finals come sleepless nights, tight knit schedules, and anxiety hardly felt during any other time of the year. With so much mental energy focused on acing exams and ending the semester on a high note we often forget to breathe, take a step back, and recognize that every thing is going to be just fine. Having an outlet to channel our energy and blow off steam is as important during these trying days as any.

Instead of pulling out our hair, worrying about outcomes that are beyond our control, or channeling our stress in unhealthy ways, we should look to relieve our stress in a positive way. It is no secret that maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle benefits way beyond just aesthetics. Physical activity can also increase brain functionality, ease stress, and just leave you with an overall sense of accomplishment and higher self-esteem.

Here are just a few reasons why yoga is the way to go.

1. Increased Immunity

A study by Norwegian health professionals shows that yoga affects the body on the cellular level, beginning to change gene expression in just a few sessions on the mat. With increased movement, all organs and muscles begin to detoxify themselves by flushing out stagnant fluids and increasing cellular respiration. Increased immunity leads to overall better health. With so many diet constrains and shared close quarters I’ll take all the increased immunity I can get.

2. Better Sleep

Maintaining a proper sleep schedule is one of the most difficult things to accomplish, especially when the hours that would normally be spent in bed are spent hunched over a textbook at the library. The constant flexion, extension, and contortion of various postures stimulates the nervous system, particularly the brain. Inversions recirculate fresh blood to the brain which can increase functionality and overall health.

3. Decreased Appetite

The focus on breathing and deep-seeded concentration leads to an overall heightened sense of self-awareness which researchers say can decrease appetite by more than 50%. Stress is known to increase cortisol levels which can increase appetite. Studies have found that yoga significantly lowers these cortisol levels.

4. Increased Strength and Flexibility

The static movements consistent within yoga utilize muscle fibers that are not necessarily utilized through common lengthening and shortening exercises done every day in the gymnasium. Learning to stay in these poses and constantly flow through the postures keeps the body guessing forcing muscles to adapt. You will find strength you never knew you had!

5. Sharper Mental Acuity

Focusing on breathing and remaining in the moment will allow you to become sharper not only physically but mentally. This new found mental acuity will translate directly to studies, daily tasks, and more.

Who knows. It might just suck you in and end up changing your life like it did mine!

Check out this motivational video for more on the amazing power of yoga.

Intereste in learning more? Check out this article by Fitness Magazine for more beginner tips!

Yoga for Beginners

photo credit: akk_rus via photopin cc

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