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Yoga enables students to ease anxiety and stress

Campus Recreation offers various yoga classes that range in difficulty throughout the week and are free for students. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/CAMPUS RECREATION

College is not an easy time for many people in terms of mental health. Some students have to juggle classes, internships, personal lives and jobs; a feat that is by no means easy. 

However, there might be a simple solution for dealing with this burden that the average student is overlooking: yoga.

Yoga originated in India as a part of several different religions. It became prevalent in Western culture in the 20th century because of the mental and physical benefits of which its practitioners boast. Currently, it is considered by many to be a woman’s hobby, but those who incorporate it into their lifestyles would beg to differ.

Noelle Griffin, a junior majoring in mass communication, was introduced to yoga at 8 years old but only began practicing it seriously two and a half years ago. 

She was reintroduced to it when she took a yoga course for credit at USF. When the class was over, she wanted to get better at it, as well as more involved. 

Last fall she decided to get certified as a yoga instructor. After starting classes in January , she earned her certification in July.

“It kind of just started as a trendy thing I was doing, but when I had seriously started getting into it, I was experiencing all of the health benefits and the benefits that it brings to your mental health,” Griffin said. “So it was a no-brainer for me to keep going with it.”

Griffin said that asana yoga, the physical part that most people think of when they hear yoga, is just a small part of the act.

“Yoga is more of a mental benefit,” Griffin said. “It really just changes your perception and it helps you break your bad habits.”

She believes that yoga, because of its connection to breathing, makes students more conscious and aware, which leads to better sleep and a harder work ethic. It also helps with strength building and flexibility.

While many people in the health industry think that more studies need to be done on yoga and its health benefits, there have been a few conducted to re-affirm Griffin’s beliefs.

One study published in the Frontiers in Affective Disorders and Psychosomatic Research journal said that there is some evidence that yoga helps practitioners fight sleep issues, depression and ADHD.

Griffin’s teacher, Kristen Prosen, taught the yoga course for credit as well as the group fitness yoga class at Campus Recreation until December 2015. After she left USF, she went on to start her own yoga business — The Yoga Viva — where she teaches other practitioners how to teach yoga, in addition to her schedule of regular classes.

“I think that one of the things that it really helps (my students) do is put into perspective what they want and how to get it and how to make things happen in their lives,” Prosen said.

She started practicing in college after she felt lost, and by her junior year she was instructing classes.

“It’s such a loud time in our life. There’s so many distractions,” Prosen said. “We have so much pressure and it really helps us to find a little bit of calm in the storm while everything is spinning wildly around us.”

For students that don’t know where to start, both Griffin and Prosen said beginners need an instructor to help them with the positions, so beginners should think about taking a studio class.

Prosen said she believes students who want to take it a step further should consider taking classes on how to be a yoga instructor, as it is one of the best ways to learn the craft.

“I do not recommend beginners to start watching yoga online videos in their own homes at all because you could get seriously hurt,” Griffin said. “I would recommend USF students to go to the Rec Center because it’s free. Take advantage of that.”