Yoga is fast becoming the activity of the new millennium, with over 200 million people practicing it worldwide. It is currently an important complementary therapy for a wide array of diseases and conditions. It is also an important part of recovery programs for those battling eating disorders, cancer, substance abuse, and stress-related conditions, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This healing practice is also growing in popularity with primary, secondary and tertiary students, who are often besieged by stress and experience a lack of sleep when exam time comes around.
What Effects do Exams Have on Mental Health and Well-being?
Across the globe, exam stress has been attributed to everything from self-harm to anorexia, anxiety, and depression. One important study, carried out by M. Hutchings, et al, found that both pupils and teachers tend to be under considerable pressure to achieve results in a ‘pressure cooker’, ‘exam factory’ environment. As a result, courses focus more on exams than on broader knowledge, which can detract from the learning experience.
How Can Students Deal with Stress?
The above study shows that stress needs to be tackled from a multifaceted perspective. In addition to learning core subjects, children and young adults also need to employ useful study strategies, such as completing practice tests for ACT or similar exams. This enables them to become more comfortable with the type of test they will encounter, aid in time management, and help them formulate a study strategy.
Movement is also vital; children who spend too much time indoors studying or using technology are at a risk of developing obesity. They also deprive themselves of the many benefits of nature, which include stress reduction. Exercise has long been documented as a powerful mood lifter, and yoga in particular has been found to lower stress hormones significantly.
Since yoga involves mind-body control, it can be very helpful when students are feeling anxious before an exam. Techniques, such as pranayamic breathing, come in handy when students – as well as others! – start to feel panic setting in. Meditation can help them redirect the mind to ‘the here and now’, with studies showing that yoga can improve cognitive performance.
In some schools, yoga helps primary school children channel anger, frustration, and stress in a positive way. In a more peaceful frame of mind, they are more likely to listen to teachers and to be in the right frame of mind to practice conflict resolution techniques effectively.
Regardless of one’s age and life situation, yoga is a powerful ally to embrace throughout one’s lifetime. As a practice, yoga encourages self-compassion, mindfulness, and relaxation. It can help not only during exam time, but also with the vicissitudes that life brings us.
Once you’ve dotted your last “i” and crossed your last “t” on those exams, join a family member or friend for some hard-earned relaxation in the serenity of the Doron Yoga & Zen Center at beautiful Lake Atitlan! We offer a variety of group and personal retreats, as well as teacher trainings. Until you arrive, learn more about meditation, pranayama and asana (physical posture) by following along to my Doron Yoga YouTube channel. Namaste!