By Rasika Gasti
Sitting erect in a quiet place and feeling a grounding presence has become a part of a routine for many college students, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Some Texas State students have tried it and experienced the benefits of yoga and meditation in all aspects of their life.
In the U.S., yoga and meditation has become the most common mind and body practice over the past decade. According to CDC, people practicing yoga have increased from 9.5% in 2012 to 14.3% in 2017, while the number of people using meditation has increased from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 2017. College students, along with other U.S. adults aged 18-44, are especially more interested in practicing yoga and meditation as it has proven to ensure general wellness as well as aid in memory and focus.
Charles Williams, a social work junior at Texas State University, started practicing meditation in 2015 to deal with his anger problem. However, eventually, he experienced benefits in academics and his day-to-day life.
“It definitely helped me become more alert. I’m always aware of my surroundings,” Williams said. “If I have an exam with multiple-choice, it helps me to take away the two wrong answers. That way, I know that the last two standing is one of the right answers. So, it definitely helps a lot.”
Such benefits come as a result of managing various stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, that are responsible for making us inefficient in our tasks. Which is why, Victoria “Sunshine” Torres, a public health education and promotion first year grad student at Texas State, believes that the practice of mediation helped her to manage all the stresses as an undergraduate student.
“We might want to quit certain clubs, or we might feel overwhelmed with our classes. Oh, should I drop this class?” Torres said. “But during my undergraduate, I had stress, but I was able to manage it to a point where it wasn’t over-consuming my life to where I wanted to quit things. So, it really gave me that resilience and it helped me stay nourished throughout my undergraduate.”
In addition to academics, students are also able to perform better in their major-related activities. As a musical theatre sophomore at Texas State, Ana Paula Monterrubio has experienced that with regular practice of yoga and meditation, she is able to ignore the internal noise in her mind and focus on her performance instead.
“It’s musical theater. It’s a lot of performance-based, and you are put there in the middle of a room and you have to sing, and you have to dance,” Monterrubio said. “And so often being surrounded by people that are so much talented, you get so invested in your head and it’s this negative self-talk of like, oh my gosh, I’m horrible, I’m not talented. So, meditation is really allowed me to take a step back and be like, this is not you who is thinking these things, and this doesn’t need to affect you.”
Victoria Torres is also a former yoga teacher at the Texas State Recreation Center. She looks forward to following her passion “to help other people relax” and support college students who are usually stressed because of school or work.
“And I want to return back to it and increase resources for students with yoga and meditation,” Torres said. “Whether that’s implementing yoga in schools for K through 12 or implementing more yoga programs in universities, because our adolescents and our college students, those are both too high need populations, especially after this pandemic.”
Students like Charles, Ana and Victoria have benefited so much from the practice of yoga and meditation that they want to keep up with their practice and grow further. This practice is what brings them peace and comfort in the midst of all the chaos around them.
“Meditation is my peace of mind. It helps me get rid of yesterday and get ready for the next day,” Williams said.
“With the craziness that was happening in the world, it was very comforting to know that I could come back to meditation and, that would always be there for me because I will always be here for me,” Monterrubio said.
Featured Image by Rasika Gasti
Written by: ktsw899