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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

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The Benefits of Yoga and Practicing Mindfulness

Sydney Mason
Leader of the Mindfulness Club, Erin Walsh before a guided meditation on the quad.

College and other aspects of daily life can be extremely stressful, so it is important for students to find different methods to ease the stress in their everyday lives. Practicing mindfulness techniques and yoga can be a beneficial outlet to direct stress and anxiety. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.

There are various health benefits to practicing yoga and mindfulness in one’s day to day life. It can help both physical and mental health greatly. 

“Mindfulness is one of the most evidence-supported practices for improving stress levels, sleep quality, focus and reducing self-judgment,” said UNC Asheville Health and Wellness lecturer Tracy George. 

Mindfulness techniques can also help bring self awareness and enable students to identify the source of their negative feelings. These practices can drastically improve one’s quality of life. 

“You get reduced heart rate, reduced anxiety, reduced stress. It helps you maintain a balanced feeling in your body, as well as relaxation. It reduces depression. It helps with inflammation in the body,” said UNCA’s mindfulness club leader Erin Walsh. “It’s really grounding, which I feel is really important at this stage in our lives.” 

Yoga and meditation techniques can be done in a variety of ways, but it can be extremely helpful to practice with others when just getting started.

“I think these practices are best done with others, such as in a yoga class or meditation group, because you get the support of a skilled teacher as well as the many benefits of social support and spending quality time with peers,” George said. 

There are various resources on campus to give students the opportunity to practice these techniques with others. There is a mindfulness club on campus that meets weekly. The Student Health Ambassadors on campus also offer wellness supplies and host meditation events. 

The Mindfulness Club at UNCA offers students the opportunity to learn about and practice mindfulness and yoga. The club is dedicated to building a safe space for students to release their stress each week. 

“The Mindfulness Club is a community to build mindful practices, contemplative work in a community where we all feel safe to share and safe to be vulnerable in these practices because they can be difficult,” Walsh said. “The club tries to create a space where people are safe to enjoy and grow and connect.” 

Each week the club practices something new. The club explores multiple unique ways for members to connect with both themselves and others. 

“We try to find a new meditation practice, yoga practice, or mindfulness practice each week. In the past we’ve done a practice called love and kindness meditation, which is a meditation where you just exude love and kindness to people around you and in the world,” Walsh said. “Sometimes we do walking meditation and different outdoor meditations, we’ll go to The Botans sometimes and do meditations on the river.” 

For additional support and resources, students can reach out to the UNCA Student Health Ambassadors. There is also individual and group counseling available through the Health & Counseling Center. Students may contact Tracy George ([email protected]) for additional information on these topics or support. 

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