New College students have been tapping into their spirituality and centering themselves thanks to the plethora of yoga classes available on campus: “Yoga for Wellness: A Vinyasa Flow Class” led by Counseling & Wellness Center (CWC) Postdoctoral Fellow and Psychologist Nick Gensmer, “A Yoga Class for Students” with Marivi and an upcoming student-run goat yoga trip to Fruitville farms. These events all show New College’s passion for fitness, and are open to students of all skill levels to encourage them to value mental and physical health throughout the semester.
With the recent departure of CWC Case Manager Randi McDowall, it is essential to have activities that get students involved with well-being. Gensmer strives to promote student health with his yoga class on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Gensmer is a certified yoga instructor and wellness counselor who has been teaching yoga for two and a half years.
“Yoga is wonderful for holistic self-care—there is a physical component, a mindful component, a spiritual component and an avenue for building a sense of community with others,” Gensmer stated. “Yoga can help develop physical strength and mobility and help with chronic physical pain. There is also empirical evidence that yoga can be healing for trauma and helpful for coping with anxiety and depression.”
In addition to Gensmer’s contribution to the yoga community on campus, Marivi has also been hosting “A Yoga Class for Students” on campus from 6:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. on Wednesdays. Marivi has 13 years of experience teaching yoga, has trained at Ayurveda Retreat in Coonoor Tamil Nadu, India and has been through six years of intensive Ashtanga yoga training. She has a firm understanding of movement therapy and aerial acrobatics from her time as a professional performer at Circus Arts Institute in Atlanta, Georgia.
After attending Marivi’s class, a Catalyst reporter found that the environment was lighthearted and relaxing. The room was filled with laughter during tough poses and deep breathing from students participating. The air had a very comfortable presence, especially during the last ten minutes of meditation after the workout.
First-year Bilge Akyol participated in the “Yoga Class for Students” session on Nov 30. and spoke out about her love for the class.
“I loved this yoga class, because yoga was always something that I had heard, but never done,” Akyol said. “The first class, I had this moment where I thought, for the first time in my 18 years of long life, ‘Dude, I have a body!’ I live in it, and I carry it everywhere. It was a perfect moment to exist, not just as a person, and all of the things that I have been already thinking about, but as a person with a body, and that is a good moment for me.”
Students have also been putting together yoga activities in order to outreach into the SRQ area. Thesis student and Student Success Coach from the Student Success Center (SSC) Precious Darling is holding a goat yoga event on Dec. 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., with the goal of providing support for thesis students in need of spiritual healing. With the help of fuzzy friends from Fruitville Grove Farms, the event aims to promote smiles and laughter while supporting the mind and body. The event has an entrance fee of $30 and encourages visitors to bring a yoga mat and water. Darling worked in partnership with Assistant Director of Student Success Sydney Sloan, to cultivate the off-campus trip.
“Sydney suggested this type of activity and place in one of our planning sessions, and I think it’d be nice to offer it at least once a month, so I wanted to have one before the semester ended,” Darling stated.
Darling’s attention to this event shows that yoga is more than just an exercise but a way to release negative energy in times of stress for thesis students.
Having these spaces on campus promotes student well-being, especially while many are also grappling with finals. Luckily, for any students feeling stressed, looking for a new hobby as the semester is winding down or even potentially thinking of New Year’s Resolutions, they have their pick of on and off-campus yoga classes to choose from.