April 18, 2019 | 60° F

Not Just Yoga club eliminates stress for Rutgers students

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

Photo Illustration | The Not Just Yoga club helps students find friends and de-stress by teaching them how to practice yoga.

Practicing yoga has been proven to improve relationships. And at Rutgers, campus group Not Just Yoga offers a place for students to not only destress and find common ground in their busy lives, but also form long-lasting friendships.

Not Just Yoga aims to promote a stress-free environment on campus by offering students coping methods such as yoga, breathing techniques and meditation. The club also seeks to make its participants more conscious and self-aware, according to their website.

Since she was a child, Not Just Yoga's president, Aditi Mehta, has been practicing the meditation technique.

Not Just Yoga meetings usually kick off with an interactive activity, followed by yoga and ending with meditative exercises. Mehta leads the meditation while other members guide the breathing techniques, the Rutgers Business School junior said.

Yoga, meditation and breathing techniques are all activities that can eliminate stress from the body and the mind, she said.

“These activities, done iteratively, enhance the mind and body's ability to perform in stressful situations,” Mehta said. “All three tools help you have better control of your reaction to situations.”

The club focuses on changing the way individuals view stressful or critical situations, she said. One concept the group emphasizes is that people should act, but not react, to surroundings.

Reflexive reactions parallel a fight-or-flight response, which contributes to physical and mental ailments, Mehta said. Students at the organization practice active and not reactive thinking.

Mehta said that Not Just Yoga is a college chapter of an international non-profit organization called Art of Living. She was inspired to get involved with the organization because her father joined it when she was 13-years-old, she said.

Mehta said her father has suffered from severe asthma since he graduated from college. Shortly after getting married, he became interested in various spiritual organizations. He chose to attend a beginner-level workshop hosted by Art of Living, wherein he learned about basic breathing techniques.

Since then, he has become more involved with the organization and his asthmatic symptoms have improved, Mehta said. 

“He feels he gains some enlightenment from some of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's teachings,” Mehta said.

Art of Living shares similar goals to Not Just Yoga. Among their goals is the creation of a stress-free environment and as a result, a stress-free world, Mehta said.

In 2015, a American College Health Association study showed that 85.6 percent of participants felt “overwhelmed by their responsibilities" and that stress is particularly high among college students.

“When we are stressed, it impacts our performance and relationships,” Mehta said. “But when we are in control of our reactions to situations that usually create stress, we improve how we behave, which improves who we are as a person."

Several other universities across the country have invested in meditation and relaxation programs for their undergraduate population, according to USA Today. 

Mehta participated in various courses hosted by Art of Living, which she said had a major impact on her way of life.

“These courses provided me a better understanding of myself as a teenager, and I was able to improve my relationships with my peers,” Mehta said. “It likewise provided a foundation for me to define myself.”

Upon entering her first year at the University, Mehta joined Not Just Yoga and said the club helped her become more involved with the University community.

The club holds sessions at Passion Puddle on Douglass campus early in the semester, and they hope to start outdoor sessions again once the weather improves.

“Not Just Yoga really provides an environment for an individual to become intimate with oneself,” she said. “And when one improves relations with the self, relations with others are greatly improved.”

Bushra Hasan is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @bushrafhasan for more.

Bushra Hasan

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