How yoga can be utilised to reduce student anxiety

Kirsty Dickson

Dentistry

5th

Year of study:

Universities are struggling to cope with the demand placed on mental wellbeing services. There is a lack of available support and little use of preventative measures. The need to research ways of elevating student stress inspired my study which looks into reducing anxiety in medical, veterinary and life sciences (MVLS) students, who have long been seen as a high-risk cohort. Yoga has been postulated as a method of reducing anxiety since the practice was born in 3000 BCE. Yoga has many researched physical and mental benefits including the ability to practice mindfulness, develop coping mechanisms, and alter the participants’ physiological stress response. Hamilton Anxiety Scales (HAS) scores, used as a clinical measure of anxiety, found a statically significant reduction in the students over a six week period. All the students involved in the study stated they benefitted from being a part of the yoga club and 90% found yoga reduced their anxiety. The positive effect of yoga on MVLS student anxiety provides evidence that it could be used as an intervention for student wellbeing. This study invites universities to reassess its current approach to mental health and utilise prevention measures to reduce the prevalence of mental health issues.

I am a fifth year dental student who has a passion for wellbeing. My interest in yoga was sparked when I witnessed my own anxiety transform for the better. I strongly believe that prevention is better than cure and encourage ways of protecting both our physical and mental wellbeing. I find the treatment of disease fascinating and hope to enter into a career in health promotion. I believe that physical activity and socialisation may be the million dollar pill healthcare is searching for.

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