Namaste: A beginner’s guide to yoga 

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Students can experience significant positive impacts on both physical and mental health through the practice of yoga. 

Yoga is a practice that has been used for thousands of years. According to the Ministry of Ayush in the Indian government, the origins of yoga practice are traced back to around the fifth or sixth centuries BC in ancient India. At its roots, yoga was used as a spiritual practice in order to align oneself with the divine. Over thousands of years, it has evolved into many variations of the practice with the same core beliefs. This practice is multifaceted with its focus on philosophical teachings, breath work, meditation, and physical postures. Yoga is unique in that it offers benefits for both physical well-being and mental well-being. 

An article from Johns Hopkins Medicine explores these physical and mental benefits. Physically, yoga can help an individual to improve their balance, flexibility and strength. Some yoga practices are even geared toward managing chronic health conditions. Mentally, the practice of yoga can have a positive effect in promoting overall relaxation, which in turn reduces anxiety and stress, improves mood and attitude, and increases mindfulness. Yoga is unique in how it is able to bring harmony between the body and mind.  

Yoga is a good option for many. According to Yoga Basics, the practice can be specially adapted to everyone’s needs despite differences in age, weight, limitations, etc. During the practice, there may be certain poses or even breathing techniques that may not be comfortable to complete for the individual. Typically there is some type of modification or alternative that can be made in order to make the routine work. Yoga is a great option for students. Not only is yoga a great workout, but it can really benefit the participant greatly in regard to mental health. Students undergo a lot of responsibility, and stress and what better way to healthily rid the mind of unneeded anxieties than to practice yoga.  

According to Yoga Basics, if an individual is just starting out and would consider themselves fairly inflexible, they should just start with gentle practice. With time, the individual will increase their strength and flexibility and can move forward to a hatha or vinyasa class. More advanced levels include Ashtanga, Bikram, and hot yoga.  

There are many ways to practice yoga and one method might work better for some than others. An individual can participate in yoga by taking a class at a studio, following a recorded yoga video, or creating a personal sequence to follow. More specifically, at UVU, students are welcomed to join in on an array of various fitness classes. UVU also offers multiple yoga classes throughout the week at the Student Life and Wellness Center. The UVU yoga course teaches the fundamentals of yoga while also working through breath work. Don’t worry if it seems intimidating to try at first; everyone starts at a different level and UVU has such a welcoming community that can make one feel right at home and relaxed. Give yoga a try this week and evaluate the clarity and calmness of the practice.