Mindfulness and inner peace may be beneficial goals on their own and goals many of us pursue every day, but there is something to be said for encouraging students at every level to find their center and better manage the stress of their education with yoga.
As schools face unprecedented challenges during this pandemic and students are reporting record levels of stress, finding new ways to combat student stress and anxiety can be a major benefit. Yoga is one tool that can help students to improve their academic experience.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways that yoga can benefit students in grade school, high school, and higher education.
Sources of Stress
Before we discuss how yoga can benefit students, it’s worth considering some of the reasons that students are experiencing so much stress in today’s academic world. First, we have to acknowledge the stress that the pandemic is placing on students.
Anxiety about returning to the classroom during a period of surging virus cases is enough to make anyone upset, but when you couple that with the uncertainty about when or if students will need to switch between in-person and online learning, and the restrictions COVID protocols place on interacting with friends and classmates, it’s no wonders student stress is at an all-time high.
Beyond that, student workloads continue to increase, often past the point that busy students can handle more work. The average student’s homework burden has increased more than 50% over the past three decades, and this trend shows no sign of abating. Add to that growing pressure to be a top performer and, for older students, the financial pressures of paying for college, and you have a perfect recipe for anxiety, depression, and worse.
Yoga in Schools
In recent years, there has been significant controversy over the implementation of yoga programs in schools, particularly from Christians who believe that yoga unfairly promotes Eastern religions and can divide students if parents choose to keep their kids out of yoga programs for religious reasons. However, many school districts have argued that the mindfulness techniques taught by yoga can be intrinsically beneficial, and they have scientific research to help back up these claims.
Related: 5 Yoga Asanas To Boost Immunity
Several studies have linked the practice of yoga to a decrease in student anxiety and stress and an increase in students’ academic performance. One instructor told researchers that taking a yoga break completely transformed her students and classroom: “Practicing yoga and taking these mindful pauses throughout the day is like hitting the reset button, for all of us. I was going to leave teaching – I was so overwhelmed. Not anymore.”
Powerful Benefits of Yoga in Classroom
There are several powerful benefits to yoga in the classroom:
- Emotional regulation. Students succeed best when they are able to self-regulate their behavior, attention, and emotions in response to external stimuli and internal cues. A small recent study of 37 high school students found that doing yoga better helped them to engage in self-regulation than a standard physical education class. A second study of fourth-graders found that yoga improved self-regulation compared to a control group who did not perform yoga in class.
- Academic performance. There is some evidence that yoga will improve academic performance when used in a school setting. One study assigned high school students to either a yoga class or a standard physical education class. The group in the yoga class ended the school year with a higher average GPA than the group in the physical education class. Overall, the evidence suggests that yoga improves GPA by reducing stress and increasing attention and memory.
- Lowering anxiety levels. Yoga has long been known as a way to combat stress in adults, and studies of students have found similar results. One study of fourth and fifth graders found that regular yoga classes helped to reduce intrusive emotions, repetitive negative thoughts, and other unproductive responses to stress after just twelve weeks. According to another study, practicing yoga helped students to significantly reduce concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol, while another study suggested that yoga could reduce anxiety while standard physical education classes actually increased it.
- Reducing problematic behaviors. Several studies suggest that students who participate in yoga are better behaved in the classroom and have fewer unexplained absences. Students who participate in yoga are thought to be less likely to engage in bullying and disruptive classroom behavior, and it may also increase attentiveness and classroom engagement.
- Teacher well-being. Students aren’t the only ones to benefit from yoga. When instructors participate in yoga classes, they also reduce their own stress and elevate their moods. Happier teachers make for more productive classrooms, and this overall create a more inclusive and welcoming academic environment that students often respond well to, increasing overall student satisfaction and performance.
Other Stress-Reducing Practices for Students
Another great way for students to reduce their stress and anxiety is to pay someone to help write their essays so they can take some of the burden of schoolwork off their plates. Students often need to find someone experts to write essays and papers for them when they are too stressed to write and an online essay writing service like Write My Paper Hub can provide the cheap and effective academic writing help that students need to succeed. While it’s always better to do your own writing, having an expert on call to provide an extra boost when times get tough can be a great way to avoid anxiety and burnout.
Addressing professional writers for assistance is also a great way to avoid procrastination — one of the top enemies of every student. Procrastination often haunts us when we have too many tasks to finish and too little time to do it. This way, our brain cannot figure out the right strategy to finish everything on time and gives up.
Related: How Meditation and Yoga Beat Stress
When you feel like whatever you do, your efforts won’t end in a win; it is much easier to stop doing anything and just procrastinate. This state is often called a “guilty playground” — you may spend time watching movies, hanging out, or just browsing in social media, but feeling guilty for the tasks you left undone and upcoming deadlines, you don’t receive any pleasure.
Delegating some of your tasks to writing experts helps you to focus on things you actually can finish in the given timeframe. It reduces anxiety and increases productivity.
Online Yoga Solutions for Students
With the COVID-19 pandemic taking over most of the offline activities, online services strengthened their influence on our lives. There are arguments against them, but first, let’s focus on the benefits.
Benefits of online yoga courses
No matter where you live, you can attend online yoga courses through YouTube or a variety of apps. Most of those apps and programs are available for free, so you will have access to the necessary exercises no matter what’s the budget. You can look through different videos and programs to choose the most suitable ones and use them when you want, without being tied to some yoga class studio.
Drawbacks of Online Yoga Courses
Not all online yoga programs are quality and professional — you can easily harm yourself by repeating exercises that are not explained well enough. You also don’t receive any valuable feedback from the program and cannot know whether you do right or wrong. In general, online programs are much more suitable for those who have taken offline classes at least for several months.
In the end, it doesn’t matter which types of classes you choose, as long as they are safe, professionally presented, and keep you motivated. Oga truly reduces anxiety among students and can be helpful with college-induced stress. Don’t give up after several classes — it may take several months to feel the real effect of your exercises.