If you walk into the dance studio in the Chrouser Sports Complex on Monday and Wednesday nights and Thursday afternoons, you will find lines of Wheaton students lying supine on mats on the floor, eyes closed, taking full and controlled breaths, as they begin an hour of yoga together.
Such stillness is startling on a busy campus and counterintuitive for the average overextended Wheaton student. But these free yoga classes continue to fill week after week, as students take a step back from their days to quiet and recenter their minds.
From this initial position of rest, students are led in an hour-long yoga session and are invited to modify the postures to whatever works best for them.
Typically, this involves a sequence of spinal warmups with gentle neck movements, poses like Cat/ Cow and postures such as Downward Dog, Chaturanga and the Warrior.
This is typically followed by hip opening and inversion sequences, and the class concludes with Savasana (or Corpse Pose), a period of deep rest, silence and prayer.
Students do not need previous yoga experience to participate. Mats are provided, making it easy to just show up. “It’s really been a rejuvenating experience,” said senior Katya Hanessian. “Going to yoga has been a way to take care of myself.”
The classes are led by instructors Farrah Brown, Erika Grant and Jeannie Iseman, depending what session you show up for. Grant, who teaches the Monday night class and the Thursday afternoon class, is a Resident Director for Upperclassmen Housing at Wheaton. She’s been practicing yoga for around five years.
“I think the most impactful piece of yoga has been learning how to calm my mind down,” she said. “I think in this culture, and especially here, where we have such an active life of the mind, which can be such a good thing but can get us into places where our minds are just always on, yoga is really helpful to bring some stillness and peace.”
Grant begins each class by acknowledging the effort it takes just to get to the CRC after a night of homework and to decide to leave all the stresses of the week outside the door.
“It’s really counterintuitive to think that moving will actually create stillness,” she remarked, but students consistently report having that experience each week on the blue PVC mats.
Sophomore Mckenzie Pile goes Monday nights after an evening of homework. She described it as “a time of inner re-centering and stillness,” in an environment that encourages a quiet mind. “It’s a reminder of how connected the soul and mind are to our physical bodies,” she said.
Junior Caleb Ingegneri shared a similar sentiment. “Yoga has helped me realize how intertwined physical tension is with my mental and emotional state,” he explained. “Going to yoga reminds me that when I have problems I can’t solve, the best thing to do is pause and take care of my body.”
For Wheaton students seeking to stop and simply breathe in the midst of a rapidly moving world, the opportunity yoga creates for cultivating stillness has been invaluable.
Yoga classes are offered Monday at 8 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. and Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in the dance studio (Room 208, above the swimming pool) of the Chrouser Sports Complex.