Male and female students can “nama-stay” on the BYU campus every Saturday morning for a free yoga class. Women’s Services and Resources has offered the class for almost two years as a way to increase student wellness.
The classes began when BYU Women’s Services and Resources surveyed students about what types of programs they wanted the office to offer. Many respondents mentioned wellness, including specific requests for a yoga class. Initially the office offered the class every other week, but it became so popular Women’s Services began hosting it every Saturday.
Yoga instructor Allie Barnes said she tries her best to offer a class appropriate for all levels of experience. The class starts out slow as Barnes has students “connect with the breath and the body,” then moves through stretches and ends with poses.
Barnes said there are many benefits to practicing yoga. It’s a low-impact way to tone and lengthen muscles, improve breathing and remain centered.
Kimberly Sagers, a family life major and graphic designer for Women’s Services, has attended several yoga classes and said she considers them a great way to start the day.
“It’s very calming,” Sagers said. “It’s a very meditative and poignant hour.”
One unique aspect of the class is that Barnes tries to make yoga a spiritual activity as well as a physical one. She often begins with a spiritual thought and plays instrumental church music during her classes.
“My yoga practice brings me close to my Heavenly Father,” Barnes said. “So I try to share that with the students who come.”
Rachel Lasley, Women’s Services nutrition and wellness specialist, said there are many positive benefits of yoga, especially among college students. She said it increases flexibility, helps students relax their bodies and improves focus.
Lasley said she appreciates the spiritual aspect Barnes brings to the class. She said the class gives her time to ponder and become more aware of herself.
“Practicing yoga helps you get more in tune with what your body needs,” she said.
Between 30 and 60 people show up to the class every week, depending on the time of the semester. Attendees include BYU students, faculty, and students’ friends and spouses. Both men and women attend.
The yoga class is offered every Saturday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. in Room 3228 of the Wilkinson Student Center. Women’s Services will soon begin handing out punch cards as a way to thank regular attendees. Students will be eligible to win a yoga gift basket after receiving four punches.
Barnes said yoga gives her the skills she needs to prepare for whatever she has coming up in the day.
“It helps me be my best self,” Barnes said. “I think everyone needs that today.”