Students and faculty destress through mindful movement
January 22, 2020
Students are not spared from the stresses and pressures of life: balancing a job, classes, finals, projects and the remains of students’ social lives. At the University, this narrative is completely normal; however, many students’ sanity is heavily indebted to their yoga practice.
When it comes to yoga, not all yogis or practices are created equal. There are different types of yoga: Where some are for relaxation, others are for flexibility, strength, better posture, balance or a full workout.
Ellen Barczak, a junior studying economics and Spanish and previous employee of Illini Media Company, relies on yoga solely for the physical benefits. After a battle of overexercising in high school, she discovered self-compassion through her practice.
She believes it’s important to keep her practice physical because she is Catholic, and since the origins of yoga are rooted in Hinduism, she thinks anything more than physical would be sacrilegious.
“I do yoga when I notice that my upper back is getting tight. I think yoga is a great way to keep your body feeling good and to also be kind to it.”
Genesee Spridco is a lecturer of movement in the theatre department and a yoga teacher at Amara Yoga & Arts in Urbana. She began doing yoga as a form of exercise; however, she discovered the mental benefits of her practice shortly after.
Now a movement coach at the University, she transfers her lessons from the yoga world to the classroom.
“When I’m teaching an acting class, I integrate a lot of self-talk and a lot of self-evaluation of where I am at today, which is just good for an actor, grounding themselves in who they are before they start to become another character,” she said. “A lot of what I do is allow folks to kinesthetically gaze into their own bodies, see where they’re holding and then question themselves, ‘Why am I holding this?’”
Spridco thinks there’s no better way to destress than to strengthen their mind and body connection. Whether they are religious, inflexible or too stressed, their yoga mat isn’t a place for judgment.
“Come to the mat, however you are, whatever you’re dealing with. Let it be present in you when you come to the mat, so you can release it.”