The Benefits of Yoga

Currently serving as communications director at Intercontinental Publishers, Ltd., Ayanna Yonemura has devoted much of her career to educating students on immigration, urban planning, and African-American and Asian-American studies. In her spare time, Ayanna Yonemura enjoys jogging, tennis, reading, and yoga. Yoga, in particular, offers a wide range of benefits to practitioners.

Positive Outlook – Research shows that one hour of yoga helps boost the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which relieves anxiety and improves mood. Higher levels of GABA trigger feelings of happiness while lower levels can signal depression.

Reduced Stress Levels – Beyond its physical benefits, yoga helps reduce stress. Stress can manifest as chronic back or neck pain or as a sleeping disorder. Yoga helps individuals develop coping mechanisms for stress, and that helps alleviate these physical symptoms.

Mind/Body Connection – One of the greatest benefits of yoga is the connection between the mind and the body. Yoga exercises help individuals strengthen muscles in their bodies and open up their minds and spirits to meditation.


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A Brief History of the Fulbright Program By Ayanna Yonemura, Ph.D.

Founded by Senator J. William Fulbright, the Fulbright Program has awarded 307,000 grants to students, professionals, and scholars since its inception in 1946. Designed to promote cultural exchanges and academic research across all fields, the program sponsors teaching exchanges, graduate study, and independent research projects. The Fulbright Program also invites international scholars to visit the United States to teach and conduct research.

Governed by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program also relies upon the guidance of the Foreign Scholarship Board. Since Congress established the Foreign Scholarship Board, the president of the United States has selected its 12 members. In addition to setting the Fulbright Program’s policies and administrative procedures, the board also bears responsibility for choosing all grantees.


About the Author:

Over the last 10 years, Ayanna Yonemura, Ph.D., has completed two Fulbright Fellowships, one in Eritrea and another in Germany. Prior to earning her Ph.D. in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, Ayanna Yonemura also received a National Fellowship through the U.S. Government Civil Liberties Public Education Fund.

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Goethe University (Frankfurt Am Main, Germany)

Goethe University in Frankfurt Am Main is one of the few German universities to receive public funding and a private endowment. Because it does not rely completely on the state, it maintains more freedom in its operations. The university presently educates 41,000 students and employs 558 professors, including 58 endowed and visiting professors. Founded in 1914 and named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the renowned German thinker, writer, and scientist, the institution counts nineteen Nobel Laureates among its graduates and staff.

About the Author:

As a Fulbright Fellow and Visiting Professor of Anthropology, Ayanna Yonemura, Ph.D. taught two courses, Social Spaces in Ethnography and The Politics of Fieldwork, at Goethe University. Dr. Yonemura holds a Ph.D. in Urban Planning, an M.A. in African Studies, and a B.A. (honors) in German Studies. She lives in Los Angeles where she volunteers for 826LA, an education nonprofit, and serves as the Chair of Buddhist Education for the West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple.

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Ayanna S. Yonemura on the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning

Founded to acknowledge the unique needs and concerns of educational programs in the field of planning, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) offers a wide range of resources for professional development. Any university-based program that offers at least one academic degree in urban or regional planning may apply for full membership in the association, which includes a vote in ACSP governance, access to in-house publications, and valuable publicity tools.

Affiliate and corresponding memberships allow nondegree and non-U.S. programs to participate in the planning education and research community as well, and individual membership provides a similar alternative for students and faculty members without program affiliations. Moreover, as part of the association’s multipronged mission to promote outreach, service, research, and education, ACSP offers members an extensive job bank, annual conferences, and a variety of scholarship and award opportunities. My own active involvement in ACSP dates back to 1997, when I delivered a presentation titled “Spatial Control and the Internment of Japanese Americans” at the association’s annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In 2003, shortly after I completed my PhD in Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, I had the honor of being named a national finalist for the association’s annual Barclay Gibbs Jones Award for the Best Dissertation in Planning. Each ACSP member program can only submit one nomination during the annual review period, endorsed jointly by the chairperson of the dissertation committee and the director of graduate studies, so I found the recognition by the UCLA Department of Urban Planning especially meaningful.

About the author: Ayanna S. Yonemura has taught at Santa Barbara City College, Loyola Marymount University, and the University of Southern California. Twice selected as a Fulbright Fellow, she has received grants from the Institute of American Cultures, Ford Foundation, and Civil Liberties Public Education Fund.

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