Yoga and College-It Just Makes Sense

As a seasoned UMD student, I’ve learned that college presents we Gen Y-ers with a unique opportunity: to gain awareness of ourselves and our future roles as professional adults, while living and studying in a protected environment. The four-ish years we spend in undergraduate education provide us with both structure and freedom.

Side Plank pose at one end of the mall

From 12-15-credit course loads (or in my case this semester, 17 credits) wrapped in tidy, 15-week packages, to extraordinary opportunities for self-exploration and expression, the structure and freedom of the college experience complement each other.  While we meet the rigorous academic and social demands placed on us, we continually make space for growth in our minds.  We learn more about ourselves as students and future professionals.

Tree pose in front of Testudo...and a lot of passers-by

Yoga offers us the same experience: its structure fosters freedom in every pose. It helps us gain insight into our strengths and vulnerabilities so we can grow and improve. Which is why yoga accommodates the demands of the college student lifestyle so well.  Major connections exist between these seemingly separate experiences.

Check it out, fellow Terps:

Presence and Mindfulness: Remaining present in every Down Dog and Warrior II we take completely transforms a passive practice into an active one. We can hold poses for an extra few minutes and take full advantage of the benefits of yoga.  It’s just as important to participate in every moment of our college experience, especially in class when our minds reel with everything BUT the material at hand. Whenever we feel overwhelmed by obligations outside of class (which happens to me constantly!), it’s important to take a deep breath and refocus our attention to our professor and classmates.  We must trust that everything will get done, just as yoga teaches us.

Dancer pose on the sundial

Challenging the Edge: Ever been out of your comfort zone before? At first, it sucks. But once we adapt to that new situation or experience (as we always do because humans naturally adapt to new environments), we feel confident and empowered. Yoga encourages us to take risks, stretch boundaries, and feel uncomfortable at times. When we challenge our edge on the mat, we go further in a pose and realize that we’ve always had the inner strength to advance our practice. College life provides us tons of opportunities to widen our comfort zone.  Everyday, we’re exposed to new people, ideas, and experiences that might prompt us to study abroad in Japan or go for a killer internship. By taking advantage of these opportunities, we cultivate a deeper awareness of our strengths and interests, plus we have FUN…and strengthen our resumes!

Cheapness and Accessibility: Incorporating yoga into our lives has never been easier.  Through podcasts, YouTube clips, iPhone apps, and on-campus classes, yoga is absolutely, 100% free.  That certainly attracts we college students who are strapped for cash, yet desperate for some mental and physical release.

Camel pose on the fountain

An Increase in Our Overall Hotness and Sex Appeal: Clear skin, muscular arms, toned butts, flexible limbs, calm minds, and a deeper connection to our bodies? Being able to move easily in our clothes as we break it down on the dance floor C-stone or Bentleys? Show me a college student who isn’t interested in the ways yoga renders us completely sexy, inside and out!

All of these connections between a yoga lifestyle and a college one reinforce the idea that yoga is for EVERYbody.  We undergrads can enjoy the same benefits as Indian gurus because we can incorporate yoga into our lives in ways that work for us. The freedom and structure of yoga mirrors the work and play of college life, so let’s assuage our school anxieties, participate in nerve-wracking experiences, and bump up our hot factor with a healthy dose of yoga!

Photo Credit: Immense thanks to my roommate, Caroline, for snapping these pictures and trekking around campus with me in the cold!

Please tweet at collegekidyoga

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