Practicing Yoga Is A Gift To Myself & My Mental Health

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

By Daphne Hotis.

It is almost impossible to avoid getting lost in the mundane. The schedules, deadlines, exams...it all takes away from the things we wish we could be doing. With a life full of worrying about grades and rush and when you have to switch over your laundry, time to yourself seems almost impossible. However, finding something for yourself, whether it be for 30 minutes or three hours, is vital.

I never truly understood yoga before trying it myself, but now I cannot imagine my life without it. I am a person who needs schedule and structure, but after the long winter break we just had, getting back into routine was extremely difficult. I decided it was time to take up a hobby. Something that would ease my mind of my boy drama and my super stressful semester ahead, while also trying to get a body that I finally felt comfortable in. I tried going to the gym and it was honestly just too difficult being surrounded by people who knew what they were doing — especially when I barely knew how to turn on the treadmill.

I had taken yoga classes before, and I knew it was where I felt comfortable, but I wanted something that felt like more of a work out. I wanted to push myself mentally and physically and I found the perfect answer: Hot yoga. 

Being in a studio setting (rather than a gym) where there are friendly faces and detailed wall murals with a calming smell of lavender oils makes all the difference. Feeling comfortable is key— and for someone who has tried to involve herself in the gym setting and failed, this was where I found comfort.

I was nervous before my first class because I thought everyone would know all of the poses but me. However, the instructors walk through each pose every class, so you never feel behind. The practice consists of either 60 or 90 minutes of poses that cleanse your mind and body.

If you have back pain, chronic headaches, or are just struggling from too much negativity in your life, an hour in the hot room will feel like a month’s work from a doctor. I suffer from scoliosis, and after just a week of stretching and working in the hot room for an hour a day, I felt no pain. I also took up hot yoga at a time where my mental state was at an all-time low. I was reminiscing on break-ups, stressed about my career path and whether it was the right choice for. Anxious about school and money, I needed something to stop my thoughts from consuming me. And this practice was the perfect remedy.

I have been taking yoga classes weekly now for about 3 months, and I have never felt better. As someone who used to struggle with my body image, I now find myself posting Instagram stories after my time in the hot room preaching body positivity and self-love. I have had numerous people reach out to me telling me that my motivation and progress is inspiring. But it is all thanks to yoga and the way it made me feel.

Spending an hour in a room where no negative energy is being emitted, where essential oils are diffused to ease mental and physical tension, where you are pushing yourself to your limits, creates a space for immunity, positivity and growth. I walk out feeling like a different person with a new outlook on life. Reacting to things less radically, speaking with more kindness and acting with more compassion.

At the beginning of class the instructor gives you a “mantra,” a quote or phrase to live by, and it truly works. Your mind reaches a state of peace during the practice that it consistently returns to in times of turmoil. It teaches you how to be calm, peaceful, and happy whether you’re in the hot room or not.

Yoga taught me how to feel human again. With so much going on, I forgot what it was like to feel completely like myself. Good habits are hard to make when they seem like chores. But yoga never feels like burden, it feels like a moment of truth. It changes how you feel, how you look and how you live. It has made me a better person, friend, student, and daughter all by teaching me how to find peace. With every ounce of sweat I drip, I let go of at least 10 ounces of negativity with it —and I walk out with nothing on my mind but the possibilities ahead. 

If you’re struggling with the amount of work you have to do by Monday, or you can’t get past a thought you’ve had resonating in your head, or you just want something that makes you feel like a better version of yourself this semester, I can't help but feel like yoga is the answer. Whether it be in a studio or just on your apartment floor, you will see a difference, and you will be better with each savasana.

Read more from college women about mindfulness, meditation and spirituality & check out our collaboration with the Meditation Studio App.