Art of Living UT promotes yoga to relieve stress among students


Yoga instructor Suresh Venkumananti teaches UT students and faculty members to relax through yoga in times of high stress like finals week. The free class is an initiative of the Art of Living UT and next Monday will be the last opportunity to attend the class. 

Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff

While the 2 a.m. Wendy’s run for french fries and a Frosty is a frequent and tempting stress-management method for many UT students during finals, there is a healthier way to cope with the strain the ensuing weeks will inevitably bring: yoga. Art of Living UT, an organization based on the global Art of Living Foundation, offers stress management workshops and conducts service initiatives around the world. Its mission is to help individuals get rid of stress and find inner peace. Art of Living UT promotes these same teachings at UT through free yoga and meditation classes for all students throughout the semester. The UT organization will hold its final yoga session of the semester Monday, giving students the perfect study break before finals officially begin. 

According to the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center’s Stress Management and Reduction website, the practice of yoga “enhances flexibility, tones the muscles, releases tension and improves mood.” If yoga is practiced regularly it can have an enormous impact on one’s stress levels. The website also states that students should not be discouraged if they struggle with certain poses at first because their flexibility and strength will improve through continuous practice. People practicing yoga must listen to their body and not force themselves into any yoga position or pose that feels unnatural. This could lead to serious injury, which would inevitably result in added stress and tension. 

Katelyn Wood, UT graduate student and yoga instructor at BFree Yoga Austin, described yoga as a union of breath, body, mind and spirit.

“It is about getting in touch with your breath and body so you can clear your head because if you are really focusing on your breath and body, there is no room for you to freak out or stress,” Wood said. “Additionally, we all hold stress in our body and physical posture and certain stretches help release this stress.”

Sophomore Meghan Enright said that yoga is a major stress reliever for her, and that it helps her focus on her work.

“It is a good, calming study break,” Enright said. “I practice twice a day because I have a very active and anxious mind and it helps to connect my mind, body and soul.”

Enright said that the main reason yoga helps her relieve stress is because it allows her to actually take time out of her schedule for herself without worrying about school, work and everything else that is going on in her life.

However, not all students are aware of yoga’s health benefits, and many deal with stress in less-productive and less-rewarding ways.

Sophomore Sylvia Hinojosa has practiced yoga before, but was oblivious of its advantages in terms of stress management.

“Usually, I run to relieve stress during finals,” Hinojosa said. “Or I usually just hold on to all my stress until finals are over.”

With the free yoga sessions that Art of Living UT offers on campus as well as the various yoga studios located around Austin there is no need for students to repress all of their stress until winter break. Instead of taking a study break on the floor of the PCL at 4 a.m., take a break at a more decent hour and do some yoga.

Printed on Friday, December 6, 2012 as: Don't suffer from finals stress; do yoga!