A semester of tranquility

Anna Yang | The Signal

Relaxation is a myth to some college students. Migraines and
anxiety might be inevitable for those who can’t manage stress. Georgia State’s yoga classes may be the solution to help lessen the pressure.

“Our culture is so much about getting ahead, being responsible, getting things done and asking more of yourself than you ever did before,” said Susan Wells, vinyasa yoga instructor at Georgia State. “All of those are values that we have. So for most of us, it’s really difficult to relax. A lot of people can’t even sleep well at night.”

According to Wells, when you have your body completely relaxed, you’re able to let go of the concept of the body and be in a deeper place within yourself.

“You’re letting go even of thought,” Wells said.

Alison Taylor, hatha and yoga mix instructor at Georgia State, said the origins of yoga began around 5,000 years ago.

“It began as a way of connecting with the divine through meditation,” Taylor said. “The postures were developed as a way of making it possible for people to sit [comfortably] in meditation longer.”

While Renee Chahoy, Georgia State Bachelor of Fine Arts student, said she doesn’t focus on meditation during yoga, she prefers to concentrate on breathing as much as she can.

“It gives me a lot of strength, it helps me relax and my balance has really improved,” she said.

For the past 20 years, Chahoy said she’s been doing yoga on and off. As well as walking, running and light weight training, she said yoga is her favorite activity. She’s particularly taken a liking to yin yoga.

“It’s the first time I’ve done [yin yoga],” Chahoy said. “You hold the poses for a long time. The muscles have to relax. You feel the tension, then they give way. You’re not really concentrating on anything but that one relsease.”

Aside from providing a more peacful state of mind and calming ambience for the body, yoga is also a healing tool. There is constant research discovering medical uses for yoga, according to Wells.

“Yoga is starting to become a lot more accepted as a therapeutic modality,” Wells said. Yoga therapsts provide yoga prescriptions for use at home.

Remedies such as forward poses are recommended during allergy season to help clear out the sinuses. Some sequences for headaches include downward facing dog, bridge pose and half shoulder stand.

Sophomore nutrition student Sallay Jabbie said to add a different activity to her routine, she decided to take the yin yoga class.

“I started in September. I’ve just been trying to do some things to get away from the norm, with school and the hustle and bustle,” Jabbie said.

One of the more difficult poses that Jabbie recalls is the matsyengasana, which is a type of stretch.

“You have to have your feet in an Indian-style and then you kind of have to lift your hip under and put your arms behind you exorcist style,” Jabbie said.

Even during her short time doing yoga, Jabbie said she notices how good she feels afterward.

“So far [yoga has] really helped me relax. I get really sleepy and it just makes me kind of focus in on myself,” Jabbie said.

According to Taylor, the more yoga and breathing is practiced, the longer that relaxation feeling lasts and the better it works. She said taking three breaths can help the body feel a little better, but there are ways to feel fully relaxed.

“If you go to yoga class three times a week, and you learn to breathe, …when something upsets you and you take three breaths, it really works,” Taylor said.

In America, yoga is considered to be posture practice and breath work, meant to pacify our senses and alleviate stress. But in India, where it originated, there’s a lot more to it than that, according to Wells. Yoga is about worship and service. She said it’s developing your whole self, not just the body. This e tails spirit, heart, body and soul.

“[It’s about] taking the gifts that you receive from it and giving to others,” Wells said.