There’s No Place Like OM: Why Mills Needs More Yoga

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February 18, 2011

“Lokaha Samasthaha Sukhino Bhavantu”.

It’s Sanskrit, meaning “May all beings be happy. May all beings be at peace.” It is one of my many mantras. I’ve been practicing yoga for maybe 6 or so years now, and taken every class possible here at Mills since I arrived last August. Yet unfortunately, there are not very many yoga classes offered here at Mills. I think many students, myself included would benefit from increasing the yoga courses offered at the college.

The whole Pavilion could probably use an overhaul but yoga in particular is decidedly lacking. Don’t get me wrong, both of my instructors here have been stellar, I am just used to the depth and breadth of City College’s yoga offerings, and was shocked last semester to discover that only a handful of 50 minute sections were being offered, and those only by two different instructors. This semester, the few yoga classes offered are longer in length, but only happen in the afternoon and with only one instructor.

To the P.E. department’s credit, this semester they’ve permitted the brilliant Sarah Harvey, who has 20 years of yoga under her belt and teaches yoga the Iyengar way, to have two sections of a longer class: an hour and forty minutes at 1 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday. This length of class is really necessary for the Iyengar style, as the major focus is on proper alignment (often involving many miniscule skeletal adjustments) and strength. Harvey also teaches a fifty-minute class at noon those days as well. But is it enough?

David Coulter’s award winning book, The Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, says that yoga should be a daily activity, one that asks its participants to cultivate a regular practice, so as to “make it easier to analyze day to day changes” in one’s body. The book also suggests practicing in the morning, advising that mornings are being best “for improving health” and detecting any problem areas. Later in the day, Coulter explains, it is more difficult to identify areas of the body that need yogic attention. Yoga after a meal is particularly unfortunate, digestively speaking. Yet somehow, that’s exactly where it landed this semester.

Where are the Saturday morning classes, the 4-6 class, or any morning class at all, for that matter? If money is an issue, Mills could open yoga classes up to the community like they do with the pool and eventually it would pay for itself. Ideally, we would have something like Smith College’s “Get Fit Smith” program, which offers yoga at least three times per week on a drop-in basis.

I also know that I could easily hop on the shuttle and take some classes in Berkeley (Yoga to the People offers classes on a donation basis) and stop complaining—but I’d prefer not to. Yoga tends to foster community in a whole different way; the point of it is to create awareness—awareness of the body and breath, self, and others. This could only be beneficial in working to create an awareness of our own student body here on campus as well.

Yoga gives me the tools to be able to deal with all kinds of nonsense. Life is hard, do yoga. That’s another one of my mantras. I hope to be able to do a little more of it here at Mills in the near future. Until then, may all beings be happy, and may all beings be at peace. Om shanti.


There’s No Place Like OM: Why Mills Needs More Yoga was published on February 18, 2011 in Column, Letters to the Editor, Opinions

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