Meditation and yoga offer stress relief for KSU students


Kent Yoga instructor Marianne Rieske, of Garrettsville, taught a moderate yoga class to students on Tuesday, September 20. Photo by Elyse Claassen.

Bruce Walton

Tips for practicing meditation on your own:

  • Pick a quiet time of the day when there aren’t other distractions around.
  • Sit in the same place and same time every day so you’re creating a habit by having that familiarity in location and time of day.
  • Some people find it helpful to play music, other people prefer silence.
  • Create a ritual by lighting a candle, having a vase of flowers next to you or by saying a prayer — something that’s meaningful.
  • “Watch your breath” — not necessarily with your eyes, but actually focus your attention on your breathing and nothing else.

As students enter their fourth week of classes, they begin to search for different ways to cope with work and alleviate stress. Unconventional methods of relief such as meditation in order to cope with the demanding lifestyle of a college student are starting to catch on among Kent State students.

“I’m pretty stressed out,” said Alyssa Stotts, sophomore pre-speech audiology major. “I have two exams in history and phonetics (this week), and I think I’ll do well in them since I started studying.”

Stotts said she usually hangs out with friends to relieve stress, but has never thought of trying yoga or meditation as an outlet.

In a recent study funded in part by the National Center for Complementary Alternative Medicine, researchers from Maharishi University of Management and American University found that modern meditation helped college students decrease psychological distress and increase coping ability.

Tucked away in a quiet studio in the Silk Mill on South River Street, right across from the Kent Free Library, is the Kent Yoga Center. The Kent Yoga Center has been around for about 10 years, but has made its newest home at the Silk Mill earlier this year. There, anyone can attend a combination mediation and yoga class with trained instructors.

Barb Williams, the meditation and yoga teacher (who specializes in meditation), has been with the Kent Yoga Center for about 10 years, and has been practicing meditation for 25 years. Every Wednesday in a 6-week series class, Williams teaches a class called “Midweek Mindfulness,” which averages seven or eight participants. Though the class is made up of mostly adults ranging from their late 20s to 40s, Williams said she does get some student participation and encourages others to join. The Center gives a senior and student discount of $8 per class and charges $12 for drop-in participants, although students can negotiate the price of the drop-in fee depending on their financial situation.

“I feel like meditation gives you a chance to take a step back and look at things from a bigger perspective,” Williams said.

Deborah Keith, one of the learning specialists and life coaches for the athletes at Kent State, participates in Williams’ class. Keith said that yoga and meditation are the foundations of her daily life.

“Life is just as hectic as it is, but yoga and meditation have taught me how to accept that and to work no matter how hectic it is in life,” Keith said.

At the end of every session, Williams likes to end with an excerpt from wise meditation teachers and then a collective “Ohm,” which means “all” and signifies unity among the class. In her first Midweek of Mindfulness class of the fall she chose a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who said, “Learn to practice breathing in order to regain control of body and mind, practice mindfulness and to develop concentration and wisdom.”

Contact Bruce Walton at [email protected].