Can Yoga Improve Your Mental and Physical Health

When I think of self-care, the image of a perfectly messy bed pops up into my mind, as per the Pinterest aesthetic. It may be because college students crave more sleep, or my brain is just telling me that I need more sleep. Whatever the reason, this was my vision of a perfect self-care day—my bed, Netflix and maybe some comfort food. When I moved out of campus towards the end of March, I did not anticipate my life to go from being eventful all the time to just me sitting in my room for eight hours straight. I had certain days at VCU, where I would walk for three or four miles because of my classes and volunteer work. I was always so active that coming home really disrupted my routine, especially my self-care routine. 

For a day to myself, I wanted to be active, and I wanted to do something that would keep my mind at ease. This is why I started doing half an hour of yoga every day since the beginning of quarantine, and I can now say that it is an amazing way to destress and give your mind a break. According to the National Institute of Health, yoga is not only a fitness routine, but it is a mind-body experience. Individuals that perform yoga learn how to focus on their breathing and shift their balance from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga is also known for increasing levels of serotonin in the body, which is why it is a recommended form of therapy for those suffering from depression or anxiety. 

woman eating fresh fruit in a sports bra Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

After nearly six months of a strict yoga routine, I have increased my muscle strength, I feel more energetic during the day and I have also lost some weight. Yoga is a powerful technique for those who need a destresser or want a fun distraction from their hectic lifestyle; however, it can also be used to enhance one’s physical strength. Allocating a small portion of your day for some yoga can positively impact your sleep, energy levels and create a balanced metabolism. It can also help with flexibility, muscle toning and reduce blood pressure. 

With the current pandemic, online school and the election, it is a very stressful time for college students. Everyone is figuring out ways to grow and adapt. It may be difficult to have an entire day to ourselves to relax now and to catch up with friends. This is why I started doing yoga every day because it didn’t require so much time, and it also taught me how to physically relax. I missed my daily active routine on campus, and being at home definitely made it harder to have the same energy level. I knew I had to change my schedule one way or the other if I wanted to adapt to my new college routine. Yoga is a wonderful form of self-care as it reduces cortisol levels and increases serotonin by working with both the mind and body.