BY Karen Yu

I sat down with Yoga Club Vice-President Margarete about yoga, stress and more, during Stress Less Week.

Although Margarete had always been interested in yoga, she never had a chance to try it out. Wanting to make more friends and get more into the social side of university, Margarete was also influenced by her growing understanding of stress, picked up in her psychology classes to finally give yoga a try. She attended her first yoga class and quickly fell in love, going on to join the exec team.

It helps lower my stress levels

Margarete loves yoga because it combines exercise with mindfulness, meditation and awareness. She loves how it can give her a time out of university, and a chance for her to exercise mindfully which helps lower her stress levels.

Yoga Club wants to contribute to student's mental wellbeing and health

Yoga Club prioritises students and does their best to work around their members’ busy university schedules. They want to help lower students’ stress levels and improve their mental wellbeing and health in general. Margarete thinks that ‘connecting’ and making friends and feeling welcomed is an important aspect of their club.

They currently have classes twice a week Tuesdays at 11AM and Thursdays at 3PM and also do extra events throughout the term like their special class for Stress Less Week.

Activities are tailored to students. While they do the regular yoga activities, they dedicate quite a lot of their time to breathing exercises and meditation. They focus on and want to help students observe their thoughts and let them go. Another activity is connecting with your breath which helps to relieve anxiety.

I try to keep my exercise routine and to meditate as well as do yoga on a regular basis

A body scan (in yoga terminology) is when you scan from the head down and notice all the sensations of your body which helps to get yourself out of your head and into your body. Margarete said that body scans, breathing exercises, meditation and yoga regularly helped her to destress.

I asked what her biggest stressors were at the moment and she said university, exams and assessments. Wanting to do her best, she puts pressure on herself to meet her own standards.

Stress and anxiety, they happen

On stress and mental health, Margarete said that stress and anxiety were quite common things in our lives and that we should learn to cope with them with different tools and techniques. She believes that educating people about stress, both the good and the bad, is important. Margarete wants people to know how to notice when they are too stressed and the resources and tools out there that helps lessen this negative stress.

One thing Margarete said about stress was to take time for yourself. She playfully said to join the Yoga Club but also said to just notice what makes you feel good and to do it. She added “Don’t feel guilty about taking time our for yourself even if you have lots of assignments, if you feel less stressed you are more productive and your mental health comes first”.

Her recommendations for destressing are: exercise, meeting with a friend and venting, cooking healthy food and looking out for your nutrition. She also mentioned meditation and breath work and even more simple things like writing to-do lists which can help lessen your anxiety about a specific task.

Margarete said that some students thought that they had to be good at Yoga to join the Yoga Club. Many students think they need experience, and were scared and nervous of joining. Margarete had her first ever yoga lesson with Yoga Club - the club welcomes anyone regardless of their level.

I’ve done yoga for a bit more than a year and am still not one bit flexible

I asked if you needed to be flexible to do yoga and Margarete confirmed that you do not. She said that flexibility even varies from day to day and that “wherever you’re at is totally fine”.

Whether it be yoga or something else, just take time for yourself

I asked her for tips to people starting out yoga and she said to not judge yourself. She said to not be so focused on getting a pose right or looking really good while doing it. Which means even if you look super awkward it doesn’t matter because what is important is you taking the time for yourself to enjoy yourself. She recommended YouTuber ‘Yoga With Adriene’ for those wanting to give yoga a try so check it out!

Karen is a Media student passionate about events, concerts and writing! She'll most likely be lounging at home listening to music or watching dramas. Follow her on Instagram.