Practicing Yoga Is a Gift to Myself & My Mental Health

By Daphne Hotis

It is almost impossible to avoid getting lost in the mundane and everyday life. The deadlines, exams, virtual calls...it all takes away from the things we wish we could be doing, even now. With a life full of worrying about grades and rush and when you have to switch over your laundry, time for your brain to rest 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 structure, but right now maintaining a routine has been 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 finals week ahead, while also trying to get a body that I finally felt comfortable in. 

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 workout. I wanted to push myself mentally and physically and I found the perfect answer: Hot yoga. 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.

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 a 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 a 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. 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 doing yoga at home weekly now, and I have never felt better. As someone who used to struggle with my body image, I now find myself posting Instagram stories after and 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, essential oils are diffused to ease mental and physical tension, and 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, I pick a “mantra,” a quote or phrase to live by, and it truly works. It may take practice, but 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 a 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, 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 recommend yoga. Even if it's just on your apartment floor, you will see a difference, and you will be better with each savasana.