Between the studying, partying, homework, and fate-deciding finals, college life can be both fun and exhausting.
At this age we dangerously believe ourselves to be invincible: impervious to hangovers and immune to the effects of all-night cram sessions. But invincible we are not, and the stress of being a student can take its toll.
A regular yoga practice helps to balance out the demands that college brings on our concentration, sleep, energy, and overall well-being.
This yoga sequence incorporates classic stress-relieving poses and helps to revitalize the mind. It makes the perfect break from studying, and a long rest in Savasana afterward, makes it all the more rejuvenating.
Palming increases circulation of the aqueous humor. This revitalizes tired eyes, whether they’ve been staring at a laptop all-day or looking through books.
1. Rub your hands together until they feel warm.
2. Gently cup them over closed eyes.
3. Allow your eyes to relax against the warmth.
4. Repeat two more times.
While exercising the eyes, ears, nose, throat, and mouth, Lion pose encourages us to let go of stress and emotional tension.
1. Sit with your legs folded underneath you.
2. Open your knees wide and place your hands on the floor in between your knees.
3. Face your fingers toward you. Gently push into the floor to open your shoulders.
4. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose.
5. Open your mouth, stick out your tongue as far as possible without strain, and exhale making a long “ahhhhh” sound. Let go of tension and stress.
6. Repeat five to 10 rounds.
The classic hatha version of Surya Namaskar lends itself to fluidity, as the spine is alternately stretched between forward and backward bends. It also generates heat and gets the heart rate up. Several rounds of Sun Salutations each day, are a great way to fit in some cardio.
1. Stand with your feet hip distance wide. Exhale and bring your palms to prayer.
2. Inhale and reach up, arching the back.
3. Exhale and fold forward bringing your palms to the floor on either side of your feet.
4. Inhale and step your right foot back, lower your knee to the floor, and lengthen your spine.
5. Hold your breath and step your left foot back to Plank pose.
6. Exhale and lower knees, chest and chin to the floor.
7. Inhale and scoop forward into Cobra pose, then exhale and push back to Downward-Facing Dog.
8. Inhale and step your right foot forward. Exhale and step your left foot forward.
9. Inhale and rise into a backbend, then exhale and return your hands to prayer.
10. Repeat the entire sequence, stepping the left foot back and forward.
11. This completes one round. Practice four to 10 rounds.
Tree pose balances the nervous system, while improving focus and concentration.
1. Stand with your feet together.
2. Shift your weight to your right leg and place the sole of your left foot on the inside of the right thigh, calf, or with the heel on top of the right foot. Focus your drishti (gaze) at a fixed point several feet away.
3. Inhale and reach your hands toward the sky, palms facing each other.
4. Stay in the pose for up to a minute.
Cow Face pose is a great stress reliever. It tranquilizes the mind and removes physical tension that’s built up in the shoulders and neck.
1. Sit with your legs folded underneath you. Either stay in this position or if your hips are more flexible, shift to the right.
2. Cross your left leg over the right and stack your knees.
3. Bring your right arm behind your back with your fingers pointing up.
4. Inhale and reach your left arm up.
5. Exhale and clasp your fingers (or a belt) behind your back.
6. Sit tall, chin parallel to the floor, and breathe for up to a minute.
7. Change sides.
Prostration pose is a milder version of Headstand. It directs a fresh supply of blood to the brain and helps to revitalize the mind.
1. Sit with your legs folded underneath you.
2. Clasp onto your calves, just above your ankles. Exhale and fold forward.
3. Place the top of your head on the floor near your knees.
4. Inhale and lift your hips. Try to bring your thighs perpendicular to the floor.
5. Stay in the pose for 20 seconds.
6. Exhale and lower.
7. Repeat up to five times.
Honeybee breathing creates an internal vibration that soothes the mind. It relieves cerebral tension, stress, and anxiety; mimicking a meditative state.
1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
2. Close the flaps of your ears with your index fingers.
3. Inhale slowly through your nose.
4. Exhale slowly through closed mouth, making a long humming sound. Do this without force or strain. The sound should be audible but soft.
5. Repeat five to 10 rounds.
If you have the time, practice more rounds of Sun Salutations and spend more time in each pose. Rest for at least 10 minutes in Savasana at the end of your practice—the greatest stress reliever of all.
Saraswati, Swami Satyananda. Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. Bihar, India: Yoga Publications Trust, 2008.