Finding inner peace through the practice of yoga

Looking into the mirror, the reflection gazed back. The battle between expectations and reality flood the mind. No one there to help or provide confidence.

Kelsea Erickson, a Hatha yoga and meditation instructor, helps students relax their mind and body but also provides students with confidence about self-image.

“Our bodies are receptive to emotion,” Erickson said. “It is important to release tension and stress from the body to create a peaceful level of mind.”

Erickson spent six weeks in Rishikesh, India, practicing Hatha yoga in order to come back and teach what she learned. Her interest in traveling to India began as she began reading books on the religion of Buddhism.

After returning to Grand Rapids, Erickson decided to open her own yoga practice called Om Shanti Yoga out of a Buddhist temple.

Erickson had previously been unhappy with her body image before embarking on her journey to India to find inner peace through yoga. Yoga is a way to relieve mental and physical stress through postures and breathing.

Erickson recently taught a yoga class during Eating Disorder Awareness Week at Central Michigan University to help students become more in tune with their bodies.

“Being a student at Central Michigan University, I think it is important to take time to relieve stress from our busy days at school,” sophomore Taylor Olson said. “I practice yoga for at least a half hour a day and feel more peaceful afterwards.”

By traveling to India for six weeks, Erickson learned just how receptive our bodies are to the stresses of daily life. The body can hold onto stress, creating tension in muscles and causing more mental stress, leading to unhappiness.

Yoga has been deemed useful for college students to incorporate in their daily routine, not only to relieve stress, but to improve concentration. It has been written about in U.S. News and Mind Body Green.

By practicing yoga, one is focused on posture and breathing, which can improve concentration outside the yoga practice. Improving concentration can be beneficial to students when required to spend long periods of time listening to a lecture or studying.

Body image is something most deal with daily, whether realizing it or not. Flipping through a magazine and seeing images of famous actors puts pressure on both males and females to look a certain way. By reacting to these images, our bodies become receptive to how we feel and store that negative energy.

“I want people to be more aware of their bodies,” Erickson said. “Stress creates a non-peaceful atmosphere and your body will continue to feed off the negative energy.”

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, yoga can not only relieve this stress, but lower blood pressure and help handle anxiety.

“The best thing I’ve learned is ‘just to be,'” Erickson said. “We can’t plan things and we can’t let things stress us out when they don’t go how we want.”