Yoga instructor, Danea Gray has been practicing yoga for seven years, starting in 2012 after finding that living away from home was a lot.
“I was in my second year of university and had just transferred to York University because I was super stressed living away from home in my first year,” she said.
With her previous background in dance, Gray wanted to “incorporate exercise back into [her] life.”
According to University of Toronto professor, Alistair Dias, “students are stressed during exam time, figuring out what exactly they want to do in the academic career and every day career.”
Dias said one of the common struggles he finds students face is finding the right balance. Students tend to turn to coping mechanisms, such as smoking and consuming alcohol.
“A lot of students practice maladaptive coping mechanisms because it’s easy to adapt to this type of coping,” Dias said.
“Yoga and meditation are positive coping mechanisms.”
Third year student, Julia Tran has been practicing yoga for over a year, and said, “It’s a tool I turn to, to bring happiness, joy and energy into my life.”
“Practicing yoga helps me realize that I have so much more time than I think. Before I would think that I have no time whatsoever, but now I have time to do yoga, school assignments and go to work. It clears my mind,” Tran said.
Gray found that practicing yoga helped her manage her stress and allowed her to get to know herself better.
“The physical aspect of the practice feels good for my body and it’s been a helpful way to track my thought process. For example, when we are going in a difficult pose, I start to assess what my thoughts are telling me,” Gray said.
Dias recommends students find a positive coping mechanism that will help manage their stress, such as yoga or listening to music, “something that will send students on a healthy path.”
“Yoga is for every ‘body’. There are no pre-requisites involved. It’s not about what’s happening in the room, but it’s about what is happening in your mind and body. Overall, yoga is a judgement free practice that really promotes a mind, body and spirit connection,” Gray said.