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Michelle McNeilly came from Alabama to attend Northeastern University in 2007.  A chemical engineering major, McNeilly is all too familiar with the stresses of college life.  Determined to win her battle with anxiety over her exhausting workload, she set out to begin a Yoga practice last summer.

“I have a very strenuous schedule and it’s a very high pressure major,” says McNeilly, who is currently on co-op with PowerAdvocate.  “Since I don’t enjoy going to the gym, it’s a better alternative to be able to deal with whats going on in my life.”

Yoga has offered McNeilly useful stress-management tools that she brings with her to the classroom.

Michelle McNeilly comes home from Yoga class. Photo (CC) by Laura Nelson.

“Just the breathing alone has helped me deal with my test anxiety,” she explains.  “I have been able to calm myself when I’ve felt a panic attack during a test.”

The Northeastern junior was faced with Yoga’s high cost when she first started her practice.  Determined to take charge of her plan, she made use of the affordable options the city has to offer.

“I started off doing free yoga through Lululemon on the esplanade this summer, and then I did the new member yoga special at Back Bay [Yoga]…”

Though she got her start with free yoga, she says she’s now willing to pay a little more for her source of calm.

“Because of the effect its had on my life, I’m able to forgo some luxuries and pay for it every month.”

McNeilly isn’t unique in her choice to pursue yoga as a de-stressor.  Her friends, also Northeastern students, take to their mats when the going gets tough.

“A lot of my good friends do it,” says McNeilly, “so I find it easier to be able to get the motivation to go when I have someone to go with.”

For more information on free or affordable yoga in Boston, check out Yelp’s Boston Yoga page, or any coupon websites such as LivingSocial or BuyWithMe, which often have great bundles on yoga throughout the city.  If you’re looking to yoga to de-stress, check out Yoga Journal online, which offers great tips for yogis of all stages and places.