The Fight Against Anxiety

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Students rolled out yoga mats on the floor of the Living Well Studio and sat silently with straight spines and closed eyes, following their breath at the weekly “Yoga for Anxiety” class.

The six-week-long, led by CAPS counselor Jennifer Phillips, was underway.

It was created to offer students experiencing distress an alternative or supplement to the more traditional talk therapy, Phillips said.

“[The class] allows students to use techniques for breathing and connecting with their bodies to manage challenging emotions, beyond a counseling session or after they leave the yoga studio,” she said.

Anxiety stems from a primitive part of our brain, rendering the logical thinking of just calm down an ineffective method, Phillips said.

Anxiety is similar to the body having a smoke detector,” she said. “We need one to keep us safe, but it is hard to focus when the smoke detector continues to go off when there is no real danger in that moment.”

Using breathing techniques to slow the body helps one feel less anxious and more present, Phillips said.

Participants focused on maintaining awareness through breath work, meditation, grounding and balancing yoga positions, and finished with a restorative pose.

Sophomore Lindsay Aldrich, an attendee of the class and a new transfer student to UVM, said she was trying out yoga for the first time.

“I hope, by doing this program, I can find time for myself and gain a new mentality every once in awhile,” Aldrich said.

Nora Kittell, a member of Living Well’s work study program, said it is important to of create space on campus for students to find peace.

“Our culture doesn’t really talk about stress and anxiety,” Kittel said. “So the fact that UVM has a whole program dedicated to giving the students a place to do yoga and relax is amazing.”