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Students, instructors say yoga and meditation help them reach further in life without stretching thin

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The new semester brings with it a wave of new stress, but UTD instructors and devotees believe yoga can help students deal with tension.

Recreational Sports is hosting a yoga pose breakdown workshop noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 24 to help students learn to do just that. Veronica Smith, who has the highest level of yoga certification possible, is teaching the workshop, said Holly Worrell, coordinator of fitness and aquatics.

Smith will walk attendees through basic yoga poses and explain what exercisers should be feeling with each pose. She plans to show attendees how breathing connects to the alignment of body through movements such as the sun salutation, a series of poses to help aid flexibility and massage the internal organs to relieve toxins.

It's good for all levels, since those with previous yoga experience can see how the poses should actually work, Worrell said.

Kamal Albright, psychology freshman and president of the Yoga and Meditation Club at UTD said yoga the practice helps improve concentration and memory, which in turn help academic performance.

"Everyone's found themselves in the position where they have 50 worksheets to do in one night. They do five, and they get distracted. I can do all 50 because of my yoga," Albright said.

In addition to its affect on the mind, yoga also carries with it numerous physiological benefits. Yoga physicians use the exercises to promote weight loss and mitigate problems with glands such as the thyroid, Albright said.

"I don't have to sleep as often because the stress-relieving part of sleep is done by yoga," he said. "The more you do yoga, the stronger your immunity is."

Smith said yoga has helped alleviate the pain she experiences from scoliosis. Yoga can also reduce appetite and curb the affects of aging, she said.

Albright said he learned a type of yoga called ananda marga, which means "path of bliss" and focuses on meditation and philosophy.

"It's more than just postures, it's a full-rounded way of life," he said.

Although yoga is an ancient tradition, Albright said he attributes its recent popularity in the United States to the increased stress that comes with economic worries.

The Yoga and Meditation Club meets 5-6:30 p.m. Thursdays in the Galaxy Room of the Student Union.

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