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"Drop and give me Zen": How Yoga Promotes Health and Wellness in Society

By Sophia Tulp and Nicole Mance

Wringing out your body and calming your mind infuses the environment of intense focus and relaxation in the practice of yoga. Many find rejuvenation and stress relief in the practice of this art as it brings them closer to mental and spiritual well-being. The concentration required permits no distractions and holds participants in the moment.

Students practice rhythmic yoga in the Ithaca College Emerson Suites during “Yogathon” on April 4. Many students said they came to relieve the stress of college life.

The Physical Therapy Student Association and Nutrition Club hosted the Second Annual Yogathon this week on April 4th. Focusing on health, wellness, sports and recreation, they sought to educate and mobilize the Ithaca community through this tension-relieving practice. An afternoon filled with yoga, healthy snacks, and tips on how to manage stress and set up healthy study environments geared participants towards the path of healthy and happy lifestyles.

“We put it on to try and promote wellness and relaxation … for students learn about nutrition and stress management,” Olivia, a senior physical therapy student and organizer, said.

Yoga as an alternative form of exercise and stress relief has been on the rise in recent years as its popularity continues to grow among many. According to a 2010 study in Yoga Journal, a prominent yoga magazine, 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, in comparison to the 15.8 million that practiced in the 2008 study.

“For me at least, yoga has been so important in centering myself and practicing just breathing,” instructor Emma Levy said. “In a college environment a lot of times things are so stressful so to be able to go somewhere and just breathe is really important.”

Ithaca College students practice a yoga pose during a session at Yogathon. The event brought people from all ages and genders to engage in health and wellness promotion.

The stress relief offered by yoga is a relevant factor that draws many participants. Several studies, including one from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, have shown that practicing yoga has resulted in decreased anxiety and depression as well as reduced heart rate and blood pressure.

“Not gonna lie it was kind of hard to relax at first,” Sophomore participant Jen Francisco said. “At first it was kind of hard to find that inner peace, but at least 10 or 15 minutes in I began to feel my muscles relax … and go through the motions.”

With about 10 yoga studios in downtown Ithaca it is certain that yoga has an important place in the Ithaca community. With each studio offering various forms of yoga such as kripalu, astanga, iyengar, gentle and many more, it is an inclusive practice. The promotion of this practice in the community regardless of both skill level and age


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