Be Well: more than just poses

Hailey Nelson

Mindful Yoga classes as form of healing

“Inhale…”

When being hypnotized, methods of relaxation and sense withdrawal are used to put an individual in a meditative state. Often, breathing techniques are utilized.

“And, exhale…”

Or, if you attend one of the 10 Be Well: Mindful Yoga classes, then relaxation, sense withdrawal and breathing techniques are just part of the atmosphere.

The sessions are part of a 10-week series including weekly yoga instruction, stress management, resource information and mindfulness practices. They take place on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Madeline Young is the Monday night instructor for Be Well: Mindful Yoga, and has been a yoga instructor at Seattle Pacific University for roughly six years. She graduated from SPU in 2011, started a job at a yoga studio in 2012, and has been teaching at SPU ever since.

“I think that teaching college students is one of the most unique experiences,” Young said. “Students are really happy to be at yoga and it’s really sweet.”

Students who attend the yoga classes explore different benefits for their bodies and minds. These benefits have to do with how yoga works when practiced.

Yoga has eight “limbs,” also known as elements. The limb most focused on in Western culture, according to Young, is Asana, the posture limb. Others have to do with meditation and the bylaws of meditation.

“In the West we just think of yoga as posture,” Young said. “But it’s so much more than that. It’s such an internal practice.”

Young also mentioned how in the West, yoga is stigmatized as an exclusive practice, but that she works to break that stereotype in the Be Well classes.

“All bodies, all shapes and sizes, and all intersecting identities are welcome,” Young said. “We can come here and make mistakes.”

Young explained the importance she places on creating a welcoming atmosphere in order to facilitate a place where newcomers and regulars can both feel at peace. She recognizes that vulnerability can come with trying something new and builds her class on being a safe place to be vulnerable and grow in the practice.

Mindful of the different levels of experience at which students enter the class, Young designs sessions based on each group that attends. Because of this, classes can change depending on the week.

Young may hand-pick positions, or asanas, for a class based on how the students are feeling that night. She will take suggestions about which poses are particularly needed, and go from there.

In Young’s class, yoga — though it can have routine implications — is an exercise for anyone, at any time in their life.

“I think that you can approach it from any angle at any point in your life and it can be helpful,” she said. “It can also just be something to try.”

For students especially, Young finds present awareness to be helpful.

During sessions, she regularly reminds participants to gently bring themselves back to the present moment, and to listen to their bodies.

Young said, “It can be the thing that you come back to time and time again — when you’re learning to manage stress or just wanting to recognize yourself as a whole being, with emotions and a physical body.”

To anyone participating, Be Well classes can break up the stress of day-to-day academics. Students often leave Monday night sessions feeling refreshed and at peace.

Young said, “I think that the academic portion of school can feel very separating — like your mental state from your body — and just getting a chance to be whole again, that’s kind of why I feel like I come back to yoga.”

For more information on Be Well: Mindful Yoga or class schedule times visit http://digitalobby.spu.edu/wellness/2018/09/26/be-well-mindful-yoga-6/. Classes will run through Dec. 10, 2018.