Yoga: forming a union between the mind, body and spirit

Yoga can help not only keep users in shape, but also promote a balance in mental health.

By Marcos Franco, Staff Writer

As gyms and workout studios remain closed in most of the state, Valley College is offering students and faculty free remote yoga sessions in order to promote mindful meditation and combat stress during unprecedented times.

After a successful first session last Tuesday, students and faculty patiently await the second and final free remote class on Oct. 29. The one-hour session coaches participants on the benefits provided by meditation through the art of yoga. This form of therapy is intended to capture peace within the mind, body and spirit in order to promote overall well-being. Frequent practicing can be beneficial to the user in preventing and combating both physical and psychological health obstacles. A balanced metabolism, weight reduction and alleviation from stress and anxiety are a few of the health benefits directly linked to practicing yoga.

“Yoga has aided me tremendously in my life throughout every stage,” said Raquel TW, spiritual advisor and instructor of the sessions. “Learning to leave all of my thoughts outside of the room while breathing and listening to my body works at the physical, mental and emotional level, where individuals need the most care.”

While managing a school, work and social life schedule could be stressful enough for college students, keeping up with the constant changing pandemic safety precautions could become overwhelming. Institutions such as The World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control believe that the use of yoga can help promote physical well being as well as peace of mind.

While most people tend to think of anatomically impossible poses when yoga comes to mind, it is much more than exaggerated flexibility. It is believed that individuals can master their destiny with the help of yoga. Through the systematic practice of physical exercise, controlled breathing and positive thinking, yogis (practitioners of yoga) can expect an increase of strength and harmony within their mind.

Although the practice of yoga has been dated back to 2700 B.C., researchers believe that the spiritual practice has been around long before then. Since it was first introduced, yoga has been adopted and spread to various different cultures throughout the globe. However, meditation reached its highest influence in India, where the practice of yoga is much more spiritual than physical. Rather than targeting bodily exercises, yoga in India focuses more on disciplining and liberating the mind. At the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga in India, instruction is very precise. Each gathering consists of four parts: cleansing, breathing, meditating and posing. Here, yoga is much more about exercise and establishing a union between the body, soul and mind.

“Yoga should not be just an exercise, but a means to connect with the world and with nature,” said India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “It should bring a change in our lifestyle and create awareness within us.”

Yoga is so sacred in India that it is nationally observed on June 21 as “International Day of Yoga.” On this day, India comes together to promote health, well-being and spiritual unity, as well as encourage the rest of the world to join them in introducing a better way of life to humanity. Though yoga in India is much more popular than in America, more than 10 percent of the U.S. population currently practices this form of meditation. According to a recent study by the Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal, over 36 million Americans practice yoga, with more than half of those individuals considering themselves beginners.

Whether an individual is a professional or a beginner, the approach and goal is the same. Establishing a unity between the mind, body and spirit captures yoga in its fullest potential. While the ancient tradition has been practiced for thousands of years, finding a form of therapy used to relieve stress is more vital today now more than ever.