A person throwing a frisbee
Yoga student practising poses in nature. Photo: Ava Rawlings.
Ava Rawlings

Exam stress: Yoga can help

Experts say yoga can help combat feelings of stress and anxiety in university students, especially when assessments are ramping up.

A new study by researchers from the University of Delhi found university students practicing yoga have fewer anxiety and depression disorders.

The survey of 442 students aged 18-22 conducted in 2020 explored many factors that could align with feelings of depression and anxiety. It found university students practicing yoga had higher mental health scores.


A person throwing a frisbee
Yoga student practising poses in nature. Photo: Ava Rawlings.


Registered yoga therapist of nearly 20 years Charley Hickey said yoga can be a good tool to help students with anxiety, especially around exam time. This is because yoga “takes you out of your head and into your body.” Ms Hickey focuses her yoga classes on supporting the body and mind.

Mental health therapist with over 20 years of experience Miranda Wiltshire said when students are under a lot of pressure and stress, their nervous system can enter fight or flight and it isn’t healthy to remain in this state for long periods, such as the university semester.

Ms Wiltshire said practicing yoga can help students to regulate their nervous systems, as yoga isn’t just a stretch class. She said: “Yoga works on mind, body, soul and spirit to nourish the nervous system.”

Deakin University’s 2022 Australian Unity Wellbeing Index found emotional distress, involving anxious and depressive feelings continued to rise in young adults. The survey indicates a need to support Australian youth.

Another study by researchers from  the Indology Academy  involved a survey asking 1066 college student questions about their perceptions of yoga. The study found yoga can reduce social and psychological problems.

The study concluded that university students can benefit from yoga but practicing yoga provides challenges. The main challenges are financial barriers, lack of time and not knowing how to practice.

Free yoga videos can be accessed online, but it’s important that you find yoga techniques that work for you, Ms Wiltshire said.

If yoga is beneficial for both mind and body, why aren’t more young people practicing yoga?

Ms Wiltshire theorizes lack of participation in yoga may be because of preconceptions of yoga as “not doing much for our bodies”. She said people may prefer other forms of exercise because they think yoga won’t give them the body they want.

She added that yoga involves restful practices, which don’t align with society’s pressures that we “do, do, do,” and can’t stop to rest.

She said lack of engagement with yoga can indicate that we as a society need to change the way we think about the importance of substantial quality rest.

If you are struggling with your mental health the following services can also be of help:


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Curtin University
Curtin University, Perth, WA
Curtin University provides journalism units and degrees at undergraduate and post graduate level at its campuses in Perth, Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai. Student work is showcased on the Western Independent.