In the world of all-night study sessions, exams, and draft upon draft of thesis papers, the Five Principles of Yoga extend beyond the mat to the everyday life of the sleep-deprived student.
With so much going on, it is easy to get lost in the unpredictability and confusion of the day. Step back and take the time to block out the constant stream of things vying for attention—leave the Internet, textbooks, and cell phone behind and strike a few poses. Set aside time each day to refocus and recharge the overstressed and over-stimulated aspects of life.
One of the primary goals of practicing yoga is to release tension and revitalize the organ systems of the body… from nervous to lymphatic, putting the whole body at rest will bring inner peace and calm. Soon, the rejuvenation will affect all activities and goals and all worries and fears will melt away.
While sitting in the library will certainly help in memorizing the answers for the next exam, the body and brain appreciate fresh air and movement. Leave the chair and poor posture behind and change up the routine with something that will elevate the heart rate and prove that even a student in the midst of finals is among the living. (Getting the blood flowing to the brain wouldn’t hurt the chances of higher marks, either!)
While being at rest and relaxed is good, it is also important to move and exercise regularly. The asana (various positions and poses in yoga) are designed to work on all parts of the body, improving circulation, strengthening and toning muscle, increasing flexibility of the joints, and allowing for more energy throughout the day.
When the walls are closing in and various commitments start piling up, it pays to remember to breathe. A few deep breaths go a long way when there are a thousand tasks to be done. The deeper the breath, the more oxygen reaches the brain. The more oxygen reaches the brain, the better the brain will retain information… Where’s the next class again?
Slow, deep, and rhythmical, breathing accompanies the asana for a centering effect with body and mind. Called pranayama, proper breathing regulates the flow of the prana (life force) to focus the mind and increase energy.
What goes in must come out… and why not make the entire experience pleasant? During crunch time, it’s easier to ‘crunch’ on foods that may not necessarily be the healthiest for digestion or the waistline. When the body screams for salty, fatty foods—focus on feeding it energy-rich snacks with natural sugars and flavors. Who needs the guilt-trip after a late night junk food binge anyway?
Food should sustain the body and spirit, so eating at times of emotional upset or boredom is not necessarily proper diet. Keep the body light, the mind calm, and help the immune system stay strong by eating properly. Eating natural foods in moderation and when the body is hungry will purify the mind and allow for heightened awareness.
Negative Nancy should start packing her bags and heading out of town. Positivity will not only elevate the mood of the thinker, but the moods of everyone else around. Focusing on the positive will help with surviving exam week, that terrible term paper, or just a barrage of assignments from a sadistic professor. Seeing the sunny side of things will at least carry the thoughts of summer vacation, after all…
Through positivity and meditation, the mind will become peaceful and the future will look brighter. Focusing on what is wonderful and good in life eradicates toxic negativity and allows for a more positive outlook on the future.
Yoga is about more than becoming a tree or mountain and taking deep breaths… the Five Principles help to guide the practitioner to a whole, more enriched life—and giving consideration to these basic steps will not only aid the sleep-deprived student in surviving of the semester, but they will improve the quality of life, love, and thesis overall.
Now, get some sleep!