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The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
University Newswire
 
University Newswire
PO Box 1510
Pembroke, NC 28372-1510
Date: August 31, 2004
Contact: Scott Bigelow
Email: scott.bigelow@uncp.edu
Phone: 910.521.6351
Fax: 910.521.6694
 

Campus Group Finds Wellness in Yoga

Yoga ParticipantsA cluster of colorful yoga mats and beach towels appear every Wednesday at noon in the lobby of UNC Pembroke's Givens Performing Arts Center. A CD recording of guitar music soothes ragged nerves.

On this day, 11 enthusiastic participants have arrived to stretch their bodies and minds. Marilu Santos transforms from biology professor into master yoga instructor for this hour.

Santos stresses the importance of breathing and spinal alignment to her class.

"Breathing will relax your muscles and open your joints and increase flexibility," she said. "Alignment is necessary, so you don't get injured."

Marilu SantosThe class begins with simple poses, such as "namaste," the prayer pose. Students stand still with palms together and shoulders back to open the chest cavity.

"Be completely at home with your body," instructs Santos. "It is difficult to do yoga if your mind is somewhere else."

Heavy, rhythmic breathing soon grows and relaxes with a flute solo. Close your eyes and you'll think you were at the beach listening to the tide come in.

Santos and UNCP's Wellness Committee have been offering yoga classes for five years. A certified yoga instructor, she also teaches yoga at the Southeastern Lifestyle and Fitness Center in Lumberton.

The group is predominately female, although there are a few brave men.

"I feel much more relaxed, my blood pressure is lowered, and it has a calming effect on my body," said longtime member and yoga enthusiast John Bowman. He said the Wellness Committee has experimented with Tai Chi, water and dance aerobics, fitness walking and nutrition classes. Bowman, a sociology professor, thinks yoga is popular because it is a non-competitive activity that people can do at a level that is comfortable for them.

Yoga ParticipantsMany, however, are experimenting with yoga for the first time in their lives.

"It's a little awkward at times, like when she (Santos) does a new pose," said university computer technician Tony Chavis. "But I like it."

Poses are often named after animals, and include the "dog," "cow," "cobra," "eagle," "warrior," "exalted warrior" and "sun."

Santos said the most popular pose is the "fetal" pose, where one curls up on their side and focuses on breathing. It looks like naptime for adults.

Yoga Participants"Be a witness," she instructs. "Watch thoughts pass by without judgment, opinion, feeling or aversion."

Maria Molina was inspired to take up yoga again after her friend, Emily Love, invited her to the sessions on campus.

"I did it at home when I was little, but I stopped for many years," Molina said. Her daughter sits quietly on a sofa during the class.

James Bass, a university administrator, has been attending the noontime yoga sessions faithfully and prefers them to doing yoga at home with books and videotapes. He said his technique has improved under Santos's tutelage, and he feels yoga boosts his day.

"It's a great thing. I need to stick with it," he said.

For more information, contact John Bowman, chair of the UNCP Wellness Committee, at 910.521.6626 or john.bowman@uncp.edu.

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The University of North Carolina at Pembroke Updated: Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Copyright © 2001-2002 The University of North Carolina at Pembroke
University Newswire
PO Box 1510
Pembroke, NC 28372-1510
Phone: 910.521.6351
Fax: 910.521.6694
Email: scott.bigelow@uncp.edu