Taking virtual stretch break

Yoga event gives students a chance to pause and connect

Daniel Newman, Sports Editor

Illustration by Gabby Cockerell

If Seattle Pacific University students want to exercise this quarter, they will find that their options are limited. Intramural programs are canceled, gyms on campus are closed, and gyms in the city of Seattle are limited to 300 square feet per person, or 25 percent building capacity in large facilities. Going outside and working out on and around campus can get repetitive.

Normally, intramurals and on campus gyms would be able to provide opportunities for students to change up their workout plans, but for now, the responsibility is falling to the Student Union Board (STUB) and the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership (OSIL). Planning any event, especially an in person one, has become much more difficult.

“Many of the obstacles we are facing come from needing to program online as much as possible. Even with campus open, we want to keep everyone as safe as we can, which means so much will be online,” OSIL Campus Program Coordinator Katie Thomas said in an email.

While planning events solely for the purpose of exercise isn’t really their focus, OSIL recently organized a virtual yoga event. The event was originally scheduled to be held in person, with face masks and social distancing, but with concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfire smoke that rolled through the Pacific Northwest in previous weeks, the decision was made to have the event virtually. One session took place on Tuesday, September 22nd and the other on Thursday, September 24th.

Freshman Barbara Zambrano Medina had done yoga a few times before, and attended the event on Tuesday, as she thought the event would be a good way to get a break from the stress she felt.

“I had to turn in three assignments that day, and I was just like, ‘Let me take an hour of my day and just do the yoga session and just relax,’” Zambrano Medina said.

Thomas began the session by introducing the instructors. SPU graduate Caitlin Heinly demonstrated the poses, while Shannon Pawloski walked the participants through each pose, carefully instructing them on what to do. The instructors encouraged the participants to find what worked for them personally doing yoga, and to adjust poses if they began to become uncomfortable. The pair led students through different poses, from child’s pose, to mountain pose, to upward and downward facing dog and many others.

Zambrano Medina said that yoga is a good way for her to exercise both mentally and physically.

“It gives you that blank space in your mind to just forget about everything for a quick second. But you’re also exercising your body in a sense,” Zambrano Medina said.

Zambrano Medina said that the poses seemed easy for anyone to be able to do, and while she wished that the event could have been held in person, she appreciated the convenience of having the session online.

“Being online gave me time, even if I was working on an assignment, I could just turn on my computer and then start doing the session. I didn’t have to run to the place or anything like that,” Zambrano Medina said.

This convenience is something that students can continue to look forward to in the future, as no one knows when social distancing guidelines and COVID-19 protections may relax.

“In this season of options being limited for what we can do and where it is safe to go, an opportunity to stretch and take a moment of connection can be very important to many,” Thomas said.’

OSIL and STUB are also hard at work preparing upcoming events, like the Scavenger Hunt currently taking place on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods, food trucks coming to campus on Friday, October 2, and a virtual Bob Ross painting party on Thursday, October 8. If students live on or close to campus, supplies for the painting night will be provided

There are currently no plans for another yoga event, but if the interest arises, Thomas and OSIL would be happy to make that happen.

“If students are interested in more online classes, we would be willing to host more,” Thomas said.