If this whirlwind of a first semester brought you stress, take a deep breath. Hopefully, you took the Fall Weekend break to relax, recuperate, and recharge. Maybe dodgeball got your blood pumping, or the dining hall’s farm-to-table comfort food warmed you up; or maybe, like this reporter, Kat Daley’s Saturday morning yoga class helped to calm your nerves.
The event, planned by Kat Daley in collaboration with Student Life, was originally scheduled to be hybrid: for remote students, a synchronous Zoom, and for those on-campus, socially-distanced on Commons Lawn. Unfortunately, the class had to be moved entirely remote due to the forty-degree weather and chance of rain.
Despite the entirely virtual nature of the event, it was an utter success. Daley guided participants through an arc of centering, warming up, building intensity into peak poses, and cooling down, ending ultimately with the final pose of rest and meditation.
Kat Daley of Bennington’s Health Center has been studying and teaching hatha yoga for about four and a half years, but has a twenty-year personal relationship with the practice.
“One possible value of yoga to students is the opportunity to get out of the head and more connected with the breath, body, and subtle energies of the self and one’s moment-to-moment experience. Particularly on a college campus,” explains Daley, “I see great potential value in yoga as an aid to help balance the intellectual efforts and cognitive demands inherent to pursuing higher education and stay connected to and more in harmony with the whole self.”
While the physical benefits of hatha yoga are often motivation enough, they comprise only a small portion of the tradition. Spiritually, yoga “as a whole provides a larger framework and process for living a more balanced, ethical, and spiritual life.”
That being said, Kat notes the importance of continuing to consciously educate oneself on yoga, or any borrowed practice, in terms of lineage as well as westernized history. She emphasizes how it has been “often approached and appropriated as a commodity to buy and sell, versus an ancient wisdom and healing tradition to honor and appreciate.”
Opportunities to get involved are both shrinking and expanding due to the pandemic. In previous terms, students could attend weekly classes on campus. While this is not currently feasible, the Internet is a trove full of global instructors offering free or paid remote courses. So, get in position, Bennington; the world is your yoga mat.