Let me start this off by saying I am not a yogi, nor am I a master of the subconscious – or any other level of consciousness for that matter. U of T’s new yoga and meditation programming is inclusive and inviting, and all you need in order to participate is your presence.
Yoga and meditation are available across campus five days a week at a variety of times to suit our crazy schedules. It’s drop-in programming so you can go as often or as seldom as you like. If it’s Wednesday, 5:15 p.m. and you’re thinking you’re done for the day, you can pop over to the Goldring Centre and join the “Yoga and Meditation” session which runs from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. It’s flexible – in more than just the obvious sense.
That’s the session I had the pleasure of attending this week. It was held in the dance studio/multi-purpose room on the top tier of the Goldring Centre’s strength and conditioning centre. I’d never been in that space before and oh how I wanted to dance! It’s so bright and open, with a wall of mirrors that I could think of many ways to exploit.
I was pleased to see that a good number of people trickled in for the session. Students and community members, older and younger folk, athletes and average Joes and Janes. I wasn’t overwhelmed and intimidated sitting in a group of the bendy and beautiful, instead I was inspired to join this diverse group of my peers to unwind and de-stress for an hour.
The session proceeded at a pleasant pace and the teacher who led the session reminded us repeatedly that this was our individual practice and we were always welcome to modify and adapt it as our bodies required. I certainly needed to take a step back here and there owing to some shoulder pain I’ve been trying to sort out – and when I looked around I saw I wasn’t alone.
We spent the beginning of the session focusing on our breath and engaging in a terribly bizarre looking breathing practice. It’s called alternate nostril breathing – or “nadi shodana.” I have no doubt I wasn’t the only one who felt a little silly, but we all followed the teacher’s instructions and honestly, I felt some tension go once we stopped and settled back into regular breathing. Placebo effect? Who cares? I felt better!
As mentioned, a variety of sessions are available across campus and I’m now excited to discover what else is out there. While they all revolve around mindfulness, meditation and distressing, there are some unique varieties of yoga and interesting teachers on the schedule. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get myself out of bed one day soon to do the 8 a.m. yoga and meditation on Tuesday morning.
One thing I want to stress is that attending these sessions likely has a different benefit for each individual. You don’t have to go for the yoga, or because you believe the meditation will be of any help to you, you might attend just to distance yourself from your phone and your jam-packed agenda or to find some peace and quiet. In any case, I recommend everyone give it a try at some point, you may be surprised by what one of these short sessions can do for you and your well-being.