Yoga and meditation as a way to relax and unwind

Miranda Flack, Campus Carrier Entertainment Editor

So you’re overly stressed. You’ve got tests, homework on top of that, work, the club you’re actively involved in and your rollercoaster of a social life. Oh, and by the way, registration week is here. There are many things we turn to in times of extreme stress or emotional breakdowns. I’m not here to judge any of your own methods, I’d just like to throw a couple more ideas into the mix.

Meditation in particular seems to get a bad reputation. What comes to mind when you think of mediation? It’s ok if the image includes a few “hippies” and strange humming and sitting cross-legged with their hands stretched out in some weird way. However, meditation does not rely on any specific positioning and it really is for anyone. The definition of meditation is when an individual trains or focuses their mind to realize some benefit or just to pick apart their thoughts. Picking apart your thoughts in particular can be extremely beneficial when you are feeling a lot of emotions you cannot explain. Once you start to realize exactly where those emotions are coming from, it is easier to figure out how you can expel them from your life.

Learning how to meditate takes some time and research beyond this article. However, it is easy enough to start a modified individual practice. The first step to meditation is breathing. Breathing slowly in and out really does do something. It slows everything down and gets you to focus on your breath rather than everything around you. Perhaps the reason most people close their eyes during meditation is similar; closing your eyes shuts out the world around you. Finding a place that is peaceful for you and quiet (although sometimes certain focus-based music is used) is often a key to this too. After that, there are many interpretations of the exact actions you can take. I encourage you to explore all of the standard meditative practices and the Buddhist ones as well. However, for our purposes, here’s a very simple interpretation of all of them: once your breathing is steady and clear, focus on each part of your body. Tense each part of your body, and then release it. Try to use each area to pinpoint certain emotions. For example, the lower back is commonly seen as the center of frustration. There is no wrong way to meditate because it is an individual activity that is only to your benefit.

A common misconception about meditation is that it is the opposite of or detrimental to certain religions. However, meditation can easily have nothing to do with religion, although certain religions do incorporate it more than others. Again, it is just for you, so whether a religious belief is involved with it is up to you. For example, Christians who meditate may pray to God afterwards to lift the bad emotions off of them and help them find peace in better emotions and solutions they may have found. Those without a particular religious affiliation can meditate for themselves and not feel pressure to be associated any more than they were before.

Yoga is often seen as an extension of meditation, and is often a good option for those who find it hard to sit completely still. Yoga is centered in breath and then incorporates movement and poses that stretch out the body. Therefore, yoga is also physically beneficial. Athletes have frequently turned to yoga to improve flexibility. Yoga is even harder than meditation to teach without visual aids. However, there is no shortage of pose examples, pictures and videos online. Yoga is also taught in the Cage (the recreational classes are open to anyone but the Kinesiology credit classes fill up incredibly fast). Yoga can be easily individually practiced or taught in groups like the classes in the Cage. It also counts are working out so if you need an easier workout this is it.

Yoga and meditation are great ways to just chill. Everyone is beyond stressed right now and if you are looking for any new ways to relieve that stress these two things could be worth a try. 

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