Like many of us, I’m an overworked, overwhelmed college student. I take a lot onto my plate because I like to push myself, but sometimes it gets to be too much. I love everything that I do; my internship, my classes, all of my extracurriculars are great, but sometimes all of that work can pile up and I find myself getting more and more stressed out. In the past, I really didn’t have an outlet for my stress, until I found weight lifting and yoga. I never participated in sports during high school and that never really bothered me. Once I started dating an athletic, I’m-good-at-every-sport-without-even-trying type of guy, he tried to get me to do something, anything involving physical activity to benefit my health.
At first, he suggested running. I am not a runner. The only thing I run for is the ice cream man, so immediately I knew that was off the table. Then, when he mentioned he was going to the gym one day I came up with the bright idea that I could go too; I would start lifting weights. It was a challenge at first and I always felt awkward, like everyone knew that I had no clue what I was doing. I persevered through my imposter syndrome, and now lifting has become something I turn to when I’m stressed out, angry, or just want to feel strong.
While weight lifting is great for gaining muscle and feeling good, it doesn’t clear my mind or connects me to my body as well as yoga does. With lifting, I’m just trying not to die and reminding myself to breathe, but with yoga, I center myself and become more in tune with my body.
I first started doing yoga when I took a free weekly class offered by my university. It, like lifting, was difficult at first. I could balance and stretch, but conscious breathing exercises that the instructor had us practice were hard. After a month or two of (consistently) going to the class, I began to learn the pattern of the formations and how to sync my breathing up to them. Now, three and a half years later, I can’t imagine how my life would be without either. I turn to both for not only becoming healthier physically, but also for improving my mental health, and remembering that it’s okay to be selfish and take some time to focus on myself.