WEB EXTRA: Mind and Body Week offers free yoga classes

Lie down with your palms raised and toes turned out, take a deep breath, and repeat to yourself, “I love my body.”

This was the essence of this year’s Mind and Body Week, hosted by the Lerner Health and Wellness Center which offered free yoga and pilates classes to students.

The class schedule included past favorites like aromatherapy yoga and instructor Gregory’s muscle pumping pilates classes. The addition of love your body yoga classes, which focus specifically on appreciating one’s own body, add a unique dimension to the yoga experience and fall in line with this year’s theme-eating disorder awareness.

“We are going to be covering the mirrors in order to allow people to focus on their inner strength,” said Melissa Hendricks, assistant director of Recreational Sports at the Health and Wellness Center. “Through this event we hope that people become aware of what a ‘healthy’ body actually is and ways they can maintain that.”

Freshman Lindsay Rosenwald agreed that Mind and Body week helps promote positive body image, especially since the mirrors are blocked out.

“It sounded relaxing and I have a test later,” said Rosenwald on why she attended her first yoga class at HellWell during Mind and Body Week.

Hendricks said about 60 percent of Mind and Body Week attendees are new to the yoga classes.

“The biggest thing is to open up yoga, to help students tap into a different side of fitness,” she said.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity for people to look beyond health and fitness and develop the mind and body aspect of heath,” said senior yoga instructor Nathalie Wessel, who began to frequently practice yoga her freshman year.

Practicing yoga has numerous proven health benefits, including improved balance and flexibility, lowered stress levels and even reeducations of pain.

Josh Bloomberg, a freshman, enjoyed his first yoga class, despite admitting he felt nervous beforehand.

“I’m here because I had back surgery and I’ve been going through rehab,” Bloomberg said. “People told me yoga is good for that.”

Sophomore, Teresa Uczekaj, is a regular yoga practitioner, but decided to use the Mind and Body Week’s opportunity to take free classes as a way to get together with friends.

“I think it is a great idea for a lot of people who are afraid to spend the money,” said Teresa, referring to class fees waived by HellWell during Mind and Body Week.

Classes are not the only thing free during Mind and Body Week; so are the prizes raffled off at every class. Prizes include yoga mats, aromatherapy oils, yoga straps and inspirational quote books.

There also will be a drawing at the end of the week for a free mind and body pass for fall 2007. Anyone who attends a mind a body class this week will be entered into the drawing.

Besides providing students with free classes and useful giveaways, HellWell is also providing students with information on positive body image and eating disorder awareness.

These brightly colored pamphlets available at HellWell offer advice on helping a friend with an eating or body image issues, a schedule of mind and body week classes, 10 steps to developing a positive body image and information about enhancing male body image.

“Your body is the most important thing you own,” said Hendricks, who has seen eating disorders become an increasing problem on campus over the past few years.

“It’s not always rush, rush, rush to get something done,” said Hendricks, who encourages students to spend a few hours each week focusing on themselves, which she believes is just as important as staying active.

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