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Yoga used as stress management for college students

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The Appalachian Online

Many students are participating in yoga as a fun stress reliever, with clubs like YesPlus offering free sessions for students on Appalachian State University’s campus.

According to statisticsbrain.com, the number of Americans who practice yoga increased by 20 percent from 2013 to 2014.

At Appalachian, sophomore interior design major and yoga instructor Lauren Slagle said she has also seen an increase in the number of yoga participants over the past few months.

“When I was just taking classes, I never really paid attention to the sizes of the classes,” she said. “But now that I am an instructor, I notice that almost all of my classes are packed full. College is a stressful time, and I think more and more people are realizing the great de-stressing benefits that yoga offers.”

Slagle began teaching yoga classes at Appalachian after taking them herself for years. After competing in dance and gymnastics for several years, Slagle said starting yoga at age 13 seemed natural to her.

“I started taking yoga at a local place in my hometown,” Slagle said. “Then, freshman year, I started taking classes on campus about 3 times a week. I got better and better at it, and really started to enjoy all aspects of it.”

Once Slagle started taking yoga more frequently, she learned about mind and body training offered through the university.

“I took the course offered through the university in the spring of my freshman year,” Slagle said. “The courses were really in depth. We went over anatomy and learned different positions.”

Graduate student and founder of the organization YesPlus Pankaj Desai also recognizes the de-stressing benefits of yoga, and said that yoga is important in helping people reach their holistic wellbeing.

“The ‘Yes’ in YesPlus stands for ‘your enlightened side,’” Desai said. “The organization is all about less talk and more practice, so we focus on practicing meditation and yoga to help us alleviate the stress from our lives.”

YesPlus offers a free hour-long yoga session for anyone in the Attic Window Room of the Plemmons Student Union starting at 5 p.m. every Monday.

“All of our suffering comes from discomfort in our lives and with ourselves,” Desai said. “Yoga has many benefits, but I believe the most beneficial aspect of yoga is the fact that it allows people to be relieved of the unnecessary burden of stress, and returns practitioners to their most peaceful, replenished state. Yoga is all about connecting your mind and body experience.”

Desai said he has partnered YesPlus with Health Services in the past, and would like to continue to partner with them for events in the future.

“In the past, we have linked events with the Counseling Center and Wellness Center,” Desai said. “Everyone who I have spoken to through the university seems to be in support of yoga as a stress management tool.”

Staff psychologist Denise Lovin said the Counseling Center teamed up with YesPlus last semester for a meditation mob on Sanford Mall.

“We linked up with YesPlus and helped spread the word about a meditation mob earlier this year,” Lovin said. “Basically, we invited people to spontaneously meditate on Sanford with us. It was a lot of fun. Although we don’t offer yoga at the Counseling Center, as a clinician, I often refer people to the yoga classes on campus as a coping mechanism.”

In addition to yoga sessions, Desai organizes Thought Leader lectures for the organization. The next lecture will be held Feb. 9 and will focus on how to trust your inner creative self and honor self-wisdom with guest speaker and assistant director of Student Support Services Christine Dave.

“The idea behind the thought leader lectures is to bring in experts that have beneficial, interesting information that supports a holistic well being, and then to use the knowledge that they give us and infuse it into our Appalachian community,” Desai said.

While Desai and Slagle use yoga as a form of stress management, freshman nursing major Taylor Burgess said she practices yoga strictly for the health benefits.

“Yoga for me is a way to strengthen my core and leg muscles,” Burgess said. “I enjoy the relaxation aspect of the yoga classes I take, but my main incentive is to increase balance and strength. It’s really great exercise without being too taxing on your body.”

STORY: Madison Barlow, Intern News Reporter

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