Honors Yoga promotes stress relief for students

Honors Yoga, a program in collaboration with Ann Arbor’s A2Yoga, held a class Tuesday, Jan. 16 from 6p.m. to 7p.m. at Eastern Michigan University’s Honors College for interested students and faculty to reduce stress.  

“It’s not healthy to sit for six hours trying to write a paper, to study long hours [without movement], it doesn’t help the body,” said Diana Sheldon, the instructor for the class and owner of A2Yoga. “No other creature does that.” 

Every Tuesday evening, Sheldon runs the hour-long yoga class free of charge. The time for the classes is adjusted by Sheldon’s availability, but they always take place between 5p.m. and 7p.m. While they take place in the Honors College, they’re available for any interested students and faculty. 

Eight people showed up for Jan. 16’s class, seven of who were students and one a faculty member. While the class offers mats for attendees to use, two students brought their own. Sheldon encouraged them to keep their mats close to the front before beginning. 

The class started with a simple meditation period before moving into various yoga poses. Sheldon gave verbal instruction that focused primarily on breathing and moving into the next pose with ease. The instruction got progressively faster, with attendees changing from pose to pose more quickly.  

The specific method of yoga Sheldon teaches is known as Ashtanga-yoga (a Sanskrit term for ‘eight-limbed union'), which focuses on the synchronization of breathing with a progressive change of posture. To Sheldon, yoga is life, and breathing is an analogy for life itself. 

“Everyone enters this life on and inhale, and we’ll all exit this life on an exhale,” she said. “What really matters is what you do in between that initial inhale and that final exhale.” 

Sheldon is a 2011 graduate of EMU with a master’s degree in hospitality management. She was asked by her sister to buy A2Yoga, an offer she accepted, leading into her love of yoga. She explained how providing teaching in yoga to both the students of EMU and her customers at A2Yoga was a way of giving back. 

“Hospitality is service, and you do a lot of yoga in service to your body, mind, emotion and spirit,” she said. “Lots of times students forget how to give back to themselves – that’s what I thought about a lot when I was a student.

When I graduated and got a job I was like ‘wow, how can I give back to the very university that gave to me?’ and this seemed like a perfect fit.” 

Freshman Brynn Ritchey has gone to every Honors Yoga session last semester, planning on keeping that consistency for the current semester. 

“I’ve never done yoga before this; it’s really nice to just relax and hour out of the day,” she said. 

Bia Hamed came to the classes due to the stress she deals with every day. 

“This is my first time coming to Diana’s class; I heard about it from a friend,” she said. “It was my new year’s resolution to put more exercise into my routine and this works perfectly.”

Next Tuesday’s Honors Yoga will take place from 5:30p.m. to 6:30p.m. EMU’s Office of Wellness and Community Responsibility offers resources for students who seek stress relief or better health. 

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