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by Jillian Torre

What if someone said you could relax your mind and workout at the same time? Yoga is one way you can kill both birds with one stone. And contrary to popular belief, yoga is not only for tree-hugging incense-burning hippies.

As college students with a lot on our plates, yoga is a perfect way to clear our minds while still giving our bodies the exercise they need.

1. Flexibility

One of the most popular excuses people give for not trying yoga is, “I’m not flexible.” If this applies to you then I strongly suggest you get yourself to the nearest class available. Yoga is not only for the already flexible. It helps the stiff stretch their way to a more bendable body.

2. Better Nights Sleep

Practicing yoga can help you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling rested. Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers believe this is because yoga will make people relaxed.

3. Balance

Similar to flexibility, not having balance is no reason to shy away from yoga. It will improve you’re balance greatly. And don’t worry about other people watching you fall and make a fool of yourself. Everyone is just thinking about themselves maintaining their balance.

4. It’s a great workout

One of the biggest misconceptions is that yoga doesn’t really give you much of a workout. Aside from flexibility and balance, yoga builds strength. It tones the body just as much, if not more, than any other form of strength training. Like Zumba and other exercise classes, the intensity of the workout can depend on the instructor. I recommend trying out a few different instructors until you find that’s practice is right for you.

5. Breathing

Yoga teaches us how to breathe deeper and slower. Using the breathing techniques learned during practice trigger the body’s relaxation response and can be used in day to day life.

6. It can be done anywhere

All you need is a yoga mat and 6 x 3 feet of empty space. Practice in a studio with other yogis, in your dorm by yourself, or on the lawn with friends when Spring comes around.

7. Inner Peace

There most certainly is a spiritual and mental aspect to yoga. Maybe it’s the burning incense, the relaxing breathe control, or savasana, a “corpse pose” held for around five minutes at the end of practice (not to be mistaken with a nap), that leaves yogis feeling calm and refreshed. Who needs a therapist when we’ve got yoga?