Mind and body exercises to de-stress and energize before finals

April 26th, 2007

With final exams quickly approaching, it seems as though the stress just keeps coming. Final projects, papers and tests are all weighing heavily on our minds as we try to get through the rest of the semester.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may want to consider trying a mind and body exercise to distress and energize yourself.

An advanced yogic pose.

An advanced yogic pose.

Stress is defined as a psychological and physiological response to events that upset our personal balance. Yoga, pilates and tai chi are just a few of many mind and body practices that help to reduce stress and anxiety by gaining balance and energy while getting a great work-out as well.

Yoga has become increasingly popular over the last five years. The ultimate goal of this practice is the attainment of an eternal state of perfect consciousness. In an attempt to gain this consciousness, we are able to de-stress through concentration that leads to meditation.

The goal is to concentrate on a fine point of sensation, in many cases your breathing. This single-pointed concentration eventually leads to meditation. The outcome of meditation is a feeling of peace, joy and a sense of oneness.

Yoga can alleviate anxiety through focusing on postures as well. Yoga postures work to calm the heart and mind while balancing our emotions and releasing body tensions. Also very relaxing is the calming effect of yogic breathing, referred to as pranayama. These breathing practices alone can help us de-stress and release our negative thinking.

Pilates focuses on control, and if we’re in control than we are able to de-stress. This exercise encourages the use of our minds in order to control our muscles.

The key principles of the pilates method are centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing and flowing movement.

Through centering and concentration, we are able to fuse the mind and body to act as one, thus gaining control over the routine and mastering the flowing movement.

Pilates teaches us to center ourselves through our core muscles, or our “power house.”

Breathing is key in both yoga and pilates practices, because when we concentrate our breathing we are able to calm our bodies and release wastes out of our bloodstreams that are associated with fatigue.

If neither yoga nor pilates work for you, you can also try tai chi. Tai chi is described as a form of meditating while in motion. It originated in China as a form of self-defense but has become a great exercise for the mind as well.

Like yoga and pilates, tai chi reduces stress, increases balance and improves flexibility. It does this by a process of relaxing your muscular tensions and improving posture and breathing, in the same ways that yoga does.

So, if you’re looking for a way to shed some stress before finals, consider one of these mind and body techniques and see how relaxed you can become.