Students Learn the Liberal Arts of Yoga
Communication professor Karla Jensen spent the past year attending classes, reading books, participating in workshops, and watching documentaries about yoga. Four hundred hours later, Jensen became certified by the National Yoga Alliance.
Now it’s her students’ turn to appreciate and understand yoga.
“I wanted to be certified before instructing students,” said Jensen. “I felt it would be unethical to not have the certification.”
First-year students enrolled in the “Liberal Arts of Yoga” started the fall semester a week earlier than their classmates, and spent 25 hours in instruction to learn the basics of yoga. Only one student had previous yoga experience.
Before any lesson began, both Jensen and the class’ student instructor, Carol Ready, shared their personal yoga stories.
Jensen’s passion for yoga stems from her diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis 23 years ago. This form of arthritis affects the body’s joints and can cause painful swelling. Although Jensen has been on a medication that eases the pain since 2000, some of the pain remains. Jensen turned to yoga for relief.
“When my husband, Travis, and I were on vacation in Mexico, the lady we stayed with invited me to do yoga with her. I was hesitant at first, but she helped me get up and out of my chair. For six days I did yoga with her. I have now been doing yoga faithfully,” she said.
Ready began yoga as a high school senior.
“I didn’t want to play any of the sports but I wanted to keep active,” said Ready, a senior from Scribner. “My mom picked up a book about yoga and I did that for a while. When I came to Nebraska Wesleyan, I took all the free classes in Lincoln that I could find.”
Even while studying abroad last year, Ready found yoga to be a great way to deal with the day-to-day stress that comes with being in an unfamiliar country.
“In Spain I didn’t have a studio, but I had an amazing balcony that I did yoga on almost every day,” she said.
Now Nebraska Wesleyan students are not only learning yoga techniques, but studying the big picture: its historical, religious, psychological, economic, and political aspects.
Students are applying their lessons to a service learning project at Tabitha Health Services, a comprehensive elder care service in Lincoln.
“Students are learning how to share and teach yoga to those who are wheelchair-bound or have mobility issues,” said Jensen. “They are teaching them how to do yoga gently and positively.”
“I think it’s important to make a connection while they’re experiencing it,” said Ready. “They have to go out and experience it for themselves. They’re not just gaining knowledge through books.”
Through the course of this class, students will learn a huge breadth of applications for yoga and how to use them in their own lives.
Taylor Buhr, a first-year student from Filley, enrolled in the class without any previous yoga experience.
“After learning different breathing techniques, I put them to use whenever I feel stressed,” she said. “It is a way for me to slow down and remain in the present and not worry about yesterday or tomorrow.”