Yoga, deep breathing can help reduce stress for students at WVU
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 00:03
Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Begin to let go of the tension in your body, starting at the feet, calves, thighs and back; take notice of how your body feels. This is how a typical yoga class begins, with awareness of breath and tension in the body.
Yoga is a form of physical movements that began in India 5,000 years ago. The practice of yoga employs the use of various physical motions that are believed to be essential to achieve a sense of both physical and mental well-being.
Although yoga is an old practice, it is still in use today and has many stress-relieving benefits.
Kimberly Williams, the stress management specialist for the Dr. Dean Ornish Program at West Virginia University Hospital, as well as, a certified yoga teacher and professor in community medicine.
The Dr. Dean Ornish Program for the Reversing of Heart Disease is an intensive lifestyle program started by Dr. Dean Ornish more than 20 years ago.
"We teach gentle yoga postures. We also teach breathing practices, meditation, guided imagery and relaxation. All of these practices really come from yoga," Williams said.
"We’ve adapted the classical yoga poses by making them supported and choosing poses that work to open up their chest so that their heart and lungs can work more effectively," she said. "They release tension in their body, which helps to release tension in their mind."
Yoga is not only for those in need of reversing heart disease. It also benefits anyone who needs to reduce stress and relax, including college students.
"Stress is identified by students at WVU as the number-one impediment to academic success," said Director of Wellness and Health Promotion with WELLWVU Colleen Harshbarger.
"Yoga has a profound impact on reducing stress, and we’ve begun to measure that and are finding this to be very true."
According to Melita Mollohan, a local yoga instructor at Bliss Bliss Bliss in Morgantown, you don’t have to do a full hour of asanas (the physical practice of yoga) to reap the stress-relieving benefits of yoga
"All it takes is closing your eyes, wherever you are at: on the bus, in your car before you take off for the day, in your bed at night before you go to sleep. Just close your eyes and take five slow, deep breaths," Mollohan said. "It just takes a moment of time to really block things out, take a few breaths, and it can change your entire outlook on your day."
Control of the breath, also known as "pranayama," is one facet of yoga that can be practiced anywhere. In this case, no one will notice those five extra deep breaths you take, but you take the stress-relieving benefits along with you for the day.
Whether you choose to take your stress out on the yoga mat or through deep breathing exercises in your desk chair, yoga offers its benefits for anyone who chooses to embrace it.