Every Tuesday at 9 p.m. Giuliana Hazelwood, a sophomore film major, and Lindsay Day, a junior writing, literature and publishing major, transform the fifth floor common room of the Colonial Building into a yoga studio. They rearrange the chairs, dim the lights and softly stream soothing music.
The free weekly yoga nights are sponsored by EmHealth, a new wellness group recently founded by Hazelwood and Day.
“EmHealth extends the wellness community to the whole campus rather than one floor and one of our ideas was to give people an opportunity to do yoga on campus,” said Hazelwood.
Hazelwood is a resident and Day a Resident Assistant of the Wellness floor living community. Their mutual involvement with dance inspired their interest in yoga.
“It’s a program where you come at your own risk, and do what you can handle as a beginner or pro,” said Day.
A few breathing exercises for clarity and relaxation began the night and a focus on detoxing and core strengthing was the theme. Hazelwood likes to combine her own knowledge of yoga with suggestions from others to make up her own routines.
“It’s hard because it’s late night. We don’t want people to feel riled up, but we want people to feel like they’re moving their body,” she said.
Residents moved through downward dog, child’s pose, and swan dive — all popular yoga positions — as Hazelwood walked around the room, offered suggestions, and molded bodies into the right shapes.
Hazelwood hopes to eventually teach yoga outside the fifth floor common room.
“It is a dream of mine to be a yoga instructor, and I really want to get trained either this summer or next,” she said.
Attendees of Hazelwood’s class feel that yoga is the perfect way to destress, which is an important part of EmHealth’s focus on staying healthy. Riley Wafful, a senior marketing communication major, said that yoga helps get her mind off her busy schedule.
“I feel like we get so caught up in all the things we have to do. To come here, you can just block out everything and get back in tune with yourself,” said Wafful.
Hazelwood stressed the positive health effects of yoga, especially for college students.
“Being active and aware of your body and health is good for anyone. Especially in college when everything is sort of magnified,” she said. “You’re dealing with so many things at so many times that really any second that you take to be with your body and do something healthy is definitely a positive.”
Hazelwood ended the session by giving each yogi a short Thai massage and reading a passage from Living Your Yoga by Judith Lasater. Speaking softly, she reminded the class that yoga not only strengthens us physically, but helps us practice awareness and compassion. With a final exhale the class ended with one simple word: namaste.