Are you ready to mentally challenge yourself?

Starting another academic year feels like boarding for a new adventure. Especially if you are an international student like me and you just moved to a new place. It is very exciting. But, if you know what I am talking about, I am sure you agree it can also be really stressful. Getting to know this place that you now refer to as home, finding new friends, experimenting with a new routine, and so on… There is so much going on in such a little time.

I don’t know about you guys, but I always start the new academic year with a lot of great intentions. Of course, you want to be a good student and be successful, but everyone knows there is another important piece of the pie: social life. If you are new in town you really know how much social life and good friendships can make a difference. It could be hard at the beginning to find people with your same interests; friends with whom both enjoy good company and have quality time. I know an easy way to do that is joining a university society, which is also an opportunity that not every university gives you.

Tess laughing

This is when I found the Yoga Society. For those who have already had yoga experiences, you know how beneficial it could be, mainly because it integrates physical and mental exercise. I thought it could be a valid option, and willing to know more about it, I met Tess.

Tess is the Yoga Society’s teacher. You would probably expect a yoga’s teacher to be a very quiet lady around forty. Wrong. Tess is a lovely second-year student with a radiant and contagious smile and a bright energy. She studies Sociology and Criminology at the University of Stirling and you might have already seen her around. I asked Tess to tell me more about the society and we ended up at Starbucks with a coffee, talking for almost two hours. She told me about her experience and her passion for yoga. I understood how influential was it on her life and how actually she benefits from it.

I found Tess’s story very inspiring, so let me tell you something about her!

She has been regularly practicing yoga for about two years but her first contacts with it date back to when she was a child. Her mum liked yoga and she challenged her to play it as a sort of a game. However, Tess never took it too seriously and she was more into the gym world.

Tess in Thailand

Things changed after a journey to Thailand. She went there to spend a summer of volunteering, and when she found a nice yoga centre, she started a yoga teacher training. She said, “I didn’t’ sign up with the intention to teach, I signed up with the intention of learning more and go deeper into it. From there, my eyes were kicked up from the first week. It felt amazing and I realised I was learning so much. Yoga is not hard cardio but I still feel strong doing it!”

When Tess came back home, the Yoga Centre in Stirling was looking for a yoga teacher and she took this opportunity. This is when she first became a teacher, and also realised how passionate she was for this job. Her classes got fully booked and that gave her motivation and a lot of satisfaction.

“From my understanding and my teaching, the purpose of yoga is to prepare your body and yourself for meditation. So it never aimed for a physical benefit, it was created for mental benefit completely.  And people usually don’t realise that”.

Nevertheless, several studies agree on recognizing the great effects of yoga on your health, such as healing aches and pains and keeping sickness at bay. Among so many, the main ones could be:

  • Improving flexibility and balance
  • Building muscle strengths
  • Perfecting your posture
  • Increasing the blood flow
  • Lowering the blood sugar
  • Maintaining the nervous system
  • Boosting the immune system functionality

As regards the psychological sphere, it is certified that yoga practice helps in other aspects, due to its consistent work on mental relaxation and meditation:

  • It makes you happier: it improves depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels
  • It helps you focus: studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores
  • It relaxes your system and helps you sleep deeper

It is now very clear why the Yoga Society needed to be founded at the University of Stirling. The spiritual and emotional dimensions of its practice would be so beneficial especially for students. As Tess said, “We have so much to do and we never completely switch off. And the way we do it, it’s mostly drinking and partying and there is nothing wrong with that, but we need something more”. The great thing about society’s lessons is that they won’t involve just the physical exercise.

There’s a lot to know about different issues: how to manage stress, how to learn yourself more, how to react at the seasonal change, how to know your body’s needs. And a lot more than we will discuss together! We will focus on stress management and we will learn the techniques to calm down that can help us in everyday life.

“This is not a society with meetings and classes to add at your list, it is time you could take for yourself. Everyone knows how stressful the university life can be, and this can really help. I hope you could give it a shot. It is nice to mentally challenge yourself!”. 

If you guys have come to read up to this point, I really think you should come to know Tess and try a lesson! The first one will be on Monday 15th October, from 2:15 to 3:45 in The Yoga Tree, at Stirling Arcade, and then will meet every Monday, same place, same time!

In the meantime, join us on the Facebook group and visit Tess on her official Facebook teaching page 😊

Also, feel free to contact the Society for any information: tel00006@students.stir.ac.uk

 See you there!!

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