The Psychology and Physiology of Yoga

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A Look Into the Benefits of Yoga for College Students

Chandler Christensen | Staff Writer

There are many pictures of people doing yoga poses on Instagram like Upward-Facing Dog, Downward-Facing Dog, Warrior I, and Warrior II, or perhaps you know how to do Downward-Facing Dog yourself.

For those in Western society, yoga is used as a path to flexibility, toned abs, and tight buns. Others claim that the physical benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. They practice yoga for reasons such as psychological wellness or spiritual enlightenment.

There are a variety of different schools and philosophies of yoga, developed by spiritual teachers called gurus. Patanjali, an ancient guru, compiled a text of short aphorisms called The Yoga Sutras. The second sutra of the text is called The Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodah meaning the calming of the mind when it starts to wander in difficult poses.

One important aspect of yoga focuses attention on consciously breathing in the present moment, when The Chitta Vritti Nirodahs start to arise. This can be useful in other areas of life, not just yoga, such as a healthy coping mechanism to relieve stress.

Alissa Kepas, a local 500-hour Registered Yoga Teacher and 10-year student of yoga started practicing yoga as a UVU student to relieve stress.

“Yoga for me started as a little escape, my mat was a place where I didn’t have to think about exams or papers I needed to write. I found that by replenishing my mind, body, and spirit, I became a kinder, more compassionate person and was able to relax and perform better in college,” said Kepas.

In 2011, New York Times journalist William J. Broad wrote a book entitled book The Science of Yoga, which examined yogic claims that stretching the spine could keep a person youthful and that it can reduce the symptomology of hypertension (high blood pressure) – a cause of numerous cardiovascular health issues.

“Science has examined such declarations and found that yoga can, in fact, counteract the deterioration of the disks that lie between the vertebrae,” wrote Broad in his book.

With all the potential benefits of using this ancient practice in our fast-paced society, yoga can have some drawbacks, especially for poor college students.  Memberships at yoga studios can often reach $40-50 per month—even with a student discount.

Luckily, UVU students have access to free yoga classes as long as they are taking seven credit hours. The yoga classes are held in the Student Life and Wellness Building. There is also an organization called Yoga Recycled, which is dedicated to the philosophy that yoga should be free for anyone interested in trying it (for more information and to see a schedule of classes check out their website

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