Do you spend a great part of your time judging yourself? Do you have that little voice inside your head saying that you are not good enough to be in grad school? Are you scared to fail?
Most of our anxieties and stressors are created by our own mind and how we perceive ourselves in our environment. We call this self-doubt, Imposter Syndrome. Add-on the competitive nature of the grad school academic environment and you have a perfect storm. If you are to weather this storm (and get that degree), you need to build your resilience. One holistic practice that can help this is yoga.
What is Yoga?
We joined the new workshop “Introduction to Yoga for Grads”, led by Nicole Duff, yoga instructor at Le Gym, to understand how yoga practices can be beneficial at the physical, emotional and spiritual levels. Nicole being a Concordia student herself gave us her testimonial of yoga practice’s benefits to achieve a well-balanced personal and academic lifestyle.
Yoga is based on a series of poses combined with deep breathing, which follow a certain flow. You soon realize that your normal breathing is often shallow and during the yoga practice you experience greater awareness of your breathing. After a couple of minutes into the workshop we noted how breathing deeply and consciously has a relaxing effect.
Nicole explained that yoga helps its practitioners to accept who they really are, and this comes with accepting their own physical limitations. Each person has a different bodily flexibility and shape that makes certain poses easier or more challenging. Moreover, we have different threshold for pain and endure certain poses for a long duration. This is the beauty of yoga as a non-competitive practice where anyone can make progress and enjoy at their own pace.
Yoga helps us to increase resilience and perseverance in other aspects of our lives because our minds are trained to perceive limitation as something we self-impose. There are times that a yoga pose is physically challenging but instead of being incapable of doing the pose, we focus on adapting the pose to what is within our limitations and without self judgement.
What are the benefits of Yoga?
Here are the immediate and long-term effects of a continuous Yoga practice if you wish to achieve a balanced lifestyle during your studies:
1. Relaxes your mind. Conscious breathing helps calm your heart rate and adjust your focus to the present moment. You get out of the fight-or-flight mode allowing your energy level to increase.
2. Improves the quality of your sleep. As you feel calmer your nervous system enters into a downtime mode, thus helping you to feel less anxious and find your sleep quicker. The quality of your sleep is likely to improve as you feel better and less worried about your obligations and deadlines.
3. Improves your posture and energy. Spending long hours reading and in front of a computer can result in back, neck and arm pains. Yoga poses help counter stretch these areas of our bodies that become tight after sitting long periods at a desk. By increasing your flexibility, you will not only have less pain, but also have more energy. Exercise, including Yoga, is known for producing higher levels of endorphins.
4. Increases self-esteem and improve your relationships. The philosophy of Yoga teaches you to avoid harm and judgement of others, be true to yourself and others, and take only what you need. When doing a yoga practice, we always pick a purpose for that day’s practice. Taking the time to reflect on this purpose or intention can help us achieve self-betterment and self-awareness. Yoga can help you develop a sense of gratitude, empathy and tolerance of people's differences and challenging situations. All these benefits are likely to help you to improve the way you relate to your peers and your environment.
If you are motivated by the yoga’s multiple benefits, the good news is that Concordia’s yoga classes are offered at affordable rates in both campuses: Perform Centre (Loyola Campus) and Le Gym (SGW).
There are other alternative treatments that are recognized in Western medicine as supportive and complimentary to health and mind treatments. Concordia’s health insurance covers a few of these alternative therapies under the category homeopathy. For more information, check your policy cover or contact the insurance provider.