New club on campus stretches mind and body

by Beacon Staff • February 15, 2006

Annie Testa, a junior video production and performance major, helped found the Emerson College chapter of the national organization known as Body and Brain.,A new health-oriented organization has emerged at Emerson College which allows students to let it all hang out at bi-weekly dance parties while teaching them how to be confident in body and mind.

Annie Testa, a junior video production and performance major, helped found the Emerson College chapter of the national organization known as Body and Brain. Testa recently took over the position of Captain.

Body and Brain is an international club for college students, aimed toward helping "bring awareness to the mind and body," Testa said.

According to Testa, there are 12 colleges in Boston that have a Body and Brain group, including MIT and Boston University.

Testa also began teaching a stretching class in the Emerson College Fitness Center, held on Tuesdays from 5:15 to 6 p.m. at 80 Boylston St.

"The class is a great introduction to what the Body and Brain club is about," Testa said.

Angela Antolino, a senior theater education major, has attended the stretching class since it started.

"It does a lot to relax you and bring you into your body and focus your mind," she said. "It does a lot when I've had a stressful day-the exercises really calm you down."

According to Michael Munson, a senior at UMass Amherst who acts as coordinator of Massachusetts Body and Brain centers, the exercises performed during Body and Brain meetings incorporate many of the components found in the Dahn yoga practice.

"The main goals of these exercises are a deep experience of feeling Ki-energy, developing a strong and integrated physical body, and developing a clear and sharp mind," he said.

According to Testa, the Emerson club holds weekly meetings to practice exercises and "train together, focus on being present, and to feel the center of their energy," and every other Friday it hosts a dance party at the Beacon Hill Dahn Yoga Healing Center.

The club also sponsors trips to an "Awakening Camp" in Arizona, said Testa, who attended the camp herself in November 2005 while organizing the Emerson chapter of Body and Brain. She said the experience there underscores the goals of the organization.

"You're with a hundred kids from across the country and you do some martial arts training, stretching and a lot of dancing that connects you with how your body feels and lets you experience your energy," she said.

Munson, who attended one of these conferences as a Body and Brain teacher, agreed with Testa.

"The retreat center is gorgeous and the trainers are very deep and sincere," he said.

Testa said she will also be taking one participant from Emerson who has expressed enthusiasm toward the new Body and Brain chapter to the log cabin Vision Camp in Andover, N.H., later this month.

Membership in Body and Brain at Emerson is currently free of charge, Testa said, but she plans on establishing a small monthly fee when more members join so that some can attend events like the Awakening Camp or Vision Camp.

Stefanie Lynch, a sophomore political communication major and member of Emerson Peace and Social Justice (EPSJ), a group that sponsors Emerson Body and Brain, said she feels the organization can benefit students in many ways.

"Students have so many things going on in their lives. It's a good group for people who are stressed out to unwind," she said. "As a member of Body and Brain, meetings are a time for me to reflect on myself and take a pause from my busy life."

There is also a chance that being a member of Body and Brain can earn students college credit, Testa said.

According to the Body and Brain Web site, Santa Monica College offers a Dahn class that meets for 120 minutes twice a week.

Testa said the process for having Body and Brain approved as a class credit is just beginning under the direction of other student Body and Brain instructors.

"One option we're looking at is trying to get these classes to be available through the physical education (P.E.) department," Munson said. "The problem with this is that not all schools have P.E. departments. It's a work in progress."

The Emerson College Body and Brain group meets on Thursday evenings from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Student Union Annex Room 2.

The next Body and Brain event will be a dance party held at the Beacon Hill Dahn Yoga Healing Center at 122 Cambridge St. tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

To get more information about joining the Emerson chapter of Body and Brain, contact Annie Testa by e-mail at AnnieTesta@gmail.com.