I was on the volleyball team for all of my middle school experience and made the junior varsity team during my freshman year of high school. The initial transition from middle school to high school was something I struggled with as the workload was at first somewhat overwhelming and unfamiliar to me. On top of that, going to practices 3 times a week for 2 hours each time, along with games that could go up to 9pm on a school night, caused a great deal of stress for me. I found that this made me perform ineffectively in the classroom because I found it challenging to get a good night of sleep the day before. Knowing that I was struggling to balance an academic life with my physical and mental health, I took it upon myself to join yoga. It was one of the best decisions I had made. I feel that after joining, I was able to better understand my body, my mental health, and physical needs. In volleyball, I was constantly putting pressure on myself to improve new skills in order to make my teammates proud. In addition to the academic pressure, I had of maintaining well-rounded grades would often cause me some stress. After joining yoga, however, I didn’t feel pressure to make anyone proud, because the activity was strictly a weekly practice to treat myself and improve my flexibility at my own pace.
I’ve also been able to learn a lot about the importance of taking care of myself and the various ways in which I can do so. For example, usually, a weekly yoga session will consist of sun cycles/salutations, which is a series of yoga positions and stretches. Sun cycles stretch, flex, and tone the muscles and a great workout for the human body. Though I tent to get out of breath by the end of our sun cycles, it is also a form of relaxation and meditation for the mind. If I’m having a strenuous week, with lots of assignments and due dates, I always find that after a yoga session with sun cycles I am always more calm in my mind and soul. Our instructor often tells us about how sun cycles are very much connected to life on earth as a whole and gratitude to the sun.
I’m emotionally thankful for yoga. Sometimes when I’m feeling down I have to push myself to spend an hour doing various physically tiring positions and stretches. But I never regret going afterward and always have a much better night of sleep the next day. Yoga has made me realize that though High school (especially in the IB diploma program) can be a very difficult time, we are all human with similar physical needs, and it is important to take the time to realize these needs, have a balance between academics and relaxation and be at peace. After 3 years, I’ve continued to participate in yoga — the knowledge regarding the wellbeing that I’ve accumulated from yoga has transcended into my everyday life in a variety of ways. I’ve learned to prioritize my emotional and physical wellbeing. Whether it be taking the time to breathe before an exam or attempting to get even an hour more of sleep, these traits that I have accustomed thanks to the activity have helped me to relax more inside and outside of school.