School reduces stress

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By Karen Snider 

It’s that time again — essays are due, exam schedules are out and student stress levels are high.  There’s just not enough time.  The symptoms are panic attacks, insomnia, headaches, muscle tension and fatigue.

Luckily, Ryerson provides services to help beat the stress, including Yoga classes and massage therapy.

The athletic department’s massage therapy clinic is the place to go for some great bareback rubdowns.

For those of you who aren’t in the habit of lying mostly naked on a table while a stranger rubs your body, massages may seem a little frightening.  But once the massage therapist starts rubbing lotion on your back, applying pressure to your sore spots, you’ll have no choice but to slip into a comfort zone.

Massages get the blood circulating and therapists can loosen up the tight spots.

Deb Shirley, one of the clinic’s massage therapists, also offers clients a rubdown with several essential oils.  She says grapefruit oil is popular with students because the scent is uplifting — it is even supposed to help people stop smoking.

If you are covered under the RyeSAC health plan, massage only cost $7 for each half-hour session.  The health plan pays the rest, for up to $500 worth of subsidies.  Otherwise it costs $32 per half hour.  A referral from a doctor is required if you want to take advantage of the school’s health coverage, but referrals are easy to get — just drop into the Health Centre in Kerr Hall.  Tell the doctor your muscles are tense and after a quick checkup, he’ll scribble a referral.

Aside from releasing the tension in your body, it is also important to calm your mind down.  Yoga will help you to re-energize yourself through stretches and postures.  It also encourages you to reduce mind “chatter” by teaching you to concentrate on one thing.

Caroline Owen teaches Yoga to theater students and gives courses at the RAC.  Unfortunately Yoga classes at the RAC are over for the semester, and won’t resume until January.

But just because you can’t get into a Yoga class right away doesn’t mean you can’t use yoga techniques on your own.  Owen teaches her theatre students a series of relaxation techniques, performed with a partner.  Working with a partner is very intimate so it should be done with someone you’re comfortable with.

The “child’s pose” technique is a great one to try.  You curl with your face and knees on the ground, arms stretched above your head in a “child’s pose.”  Every time you exhale, in this position, your partner will press down on your lower back.  This technique is relaxing and is similar to massage therapy.

Owen also recommends simple stretches such as forward bends and pelvic lifts.  Belly breathing is another great relaxation technique that involves taking deep breaths and focusing on the breath, following it to your belly.

Eight Yoga classes at the RAC costs $45.  If you’re interested you should sign up soon, so that you’re better prepared to deal with the “crunch” next semester.

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