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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

iRest Yoga Program Reduces Stress Among College Students

Jan 07, 2014 02:39PM
Nearly one-third of all American college students seek mental health counseling every year (Sieben, 2011).  Stress, anxiety, and depression are consistently identified as the top factors that negatively impact academic performance (National Association Student Personnel Administrators, 2012).

A recent study at the University of Missouri (Eastman-Mueller, et al, 2013) investigated the effects of a yoga relaxation practice called Integrative Restoration – or “iRest” - on college students’ stress, depression, worry and mindfulness.  After 8 weeks with the iRest program, there were significant improvements in perceived stress, worry, and depression, as well as mindfulness-based skills. Of particular note was the fact that the participants’ mean scores changed from a mild depression classification to minimal depression, which indictates the yoga intervention was clinically relevant.

This study suggests an iRest yoga practice is effective for helping college students manage stress and may be a useful adjunctive to campus mental health services.  Many university health and counseling centers look to community resources to meet the demand for mental health and stress management for their students. Yoga therapists and those trained in yoga-nidra have the potential to make an important contribution to integrated mental health services for college students.

For more information, see the International Journal of Yoga Therapy — No. 23 (2) 2013 as well as  Contributed by Julie Shaw, certified yoga therapist.

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