Women learn to love their bodies through yoga

By Evangeline Politis

To celebrate their bodies and the skin they’re in, women of all ages gathered at Freer Hall, 906 S. Goodwin Ave., on Monday Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. for the program “Your Body. Your Self.”

The event was sponsored by groups on campus like the Hillel Foundation, the National Organization of Women and the Counseling Center to promote positive body images and to celebrate “Love Your Body Day,” which fell on Oct. 19, again, due to it conflicting with a Jewish holiday.

“This day is devoted to viewing women’s bodies as more than just ornaments, but rather instruments,” said Jennifer Thome, a psychologist at the counseling center and the first speaker of the evening. “It is not to criticize; it is to appreciate what a woman’s body does.”

The evening began with two speakers. Both spoke of the issues America now faces with women desiring to fit a stereotypical body image. This image is predominately presented through the media. The speakers encouraged the women at the event against comparing themselves to those on the television or in the movies.

Instead, Thome encouraged the audience to think of bodies as being precious.

“There is a lot of pressure on women, college women especially, and, in part, it is about their bodies,” she said. “We at the counseling center recognize that many girls on campus have body image issues and eating disorders and we are using events like this to reach out because it is such a large campus.”

Afterwards, Adina Reichlin, a registered yoga instructor from Chicago, taught an hour-long session of yoga.

Reichlin teaches at the East Bank Club in downtown Chicago and also owns her own company, Breathe Body Works.

“I think the idea of yoga is really good because, especially on a college campus, you have a lot of females and a lot of pressure,” said Rebecca Levine, sophomore in LAS, who attended the program. “We can be very competitive, but I think that yoga is all about you.”

Yoga allows women to relax and students to concentrate on things like homework or extracurricular activities. It gives its participants confidence and focuses on the awareness of their bodies, Reichlin said.

“It’s teaching women to be confident, not only in their external, but also their internal,” she said. “Yoga connects your mind, body and soul, allowing you to work from the inside out.”

It can also help with concentration, posture and body aches. It lets women understand more about their bodies and how they hold themselves. Another important part of yoga is that it is “really excepting.” There is no weight requirement and the participants do not have to be in excellent shape to do it, she said.

“Many women see famous people like Madonna doing headstands and get intimidated,” Reichlin said. “But wherever you are at, yoga comes to you.”

The session highlighted the importance of deep breathing, balance, relaxation and meditation. The participants did many different moves through sun salutations and focused on squeezing the tension in their bodies and releasing it.

The instructor pointed out certain moves to students as being beneficial after slaving over the computer all day.

The yoga session concluded with floor exercises and relaxation.

“I think the yoga and the event went really well,” said Aliza Goodman, the Jewish life coordinator at Hillel. “We wanted to do something interactive and for women to actively learn how to love themselves. And I think this event did just what we wanted.”