University can be demanding for students both mentally and physically and having the mental and physical strength is crucial when completing even the most trivial of daily tasks. All students want to achieve academic success so much that we often do not think twice about sitting in the same spot in the library for hours—so long as our brains are working away tirelessly to get assignments done. Even after all those hours of studying, most students find themselves in a state of anxiety and constant stress, which can lead to unhealthy ways of destressing.

Yoga, a highly effective solution which improves and maintains both mental and physical health, can also relax your body and mind.  Yoga was originally founded in India. The most common type of yoga practiced by Western communities today is known as “Hatha Yoga.” The practice consists of breathing exercises, stretches, meditation, and energy releasing postures.

The Department of Physical Therapy from Long Island University states, “Yoga is a contemplative practice which combines physical activity, breathing exercises, meditation, and relaxation and is aimed at the control of mental processes related to self-regulation.”

Yoga rapidly increases one’s mental awareness. Research reveals that students who practice some form of yoga on a regular basis are not only academically performing better than physically inactive students, but also excel in comparison to students who practice other forms of physical activity.

What is it about yoga that is able to achieve such results? Let’s begin with the powerhouse of all our processes: the mind. Most studies reveal that yoga helps individuals regulate their breathing. When we mindfully practice our breathing, correlating our movements with our breath, we become more self-aware. In any given circumstance, awareness allows individuals to handle situations better and coordinate themselves. Likewise, mindfulness and awareness of self and body invariably creates a sense of control and regulation within the self.

Moreover, researchers within the field have also observed that practicing yoga is likely to impact one’s neurobiological mechanisms, promoting emotional and mental stability—especially among younger children. Such neurobiological mechanisms influence behavioural and cognitive functions. Individuals who practice yoga frequently exhibit more self-confidence, higher levels of personal satisfaction, and rapidly reduced stress levels, compared to their non-practicing counterparts. With a healthier mindset, these individuals also tend to make better choices, avoiding thoughts and behaviours that are not conducive to themselves and others.

As mentioned above, one of the biggest factors negatively impacting students is stress, anxiety, depression, and for some, insomnia. While there are many mitigating factors that can play a role for such ailments, studies reveal that yoga may be the best all-natural treatment for tackling sleepless nights and excessively low or changing moods. Many subjects participating in yoga and weight loss studies report not only significant weight loss, but also reduced cravings for unhealthy foods that they previously enjoyed. They also noticed a reduction in their food portions.

Whether you spend five or twenty minutes a day practicing yoga, it is a two-in-one solution that strengthens both the muscles of your mind and body.