The ancient practice of yoga and meditation are powerful transformational tools, and they’re being offered at Montclair State University.
The Mind, Body, Being program that will be on campus delves into a deeper understanding of how yogic techniques can truly help overcome daily body image struggles.
It will be a seven-week series that weaves various styles of yoga along with the importance of meditation and community. Members will learn crucial skills for self-relaxation, mind-body connection, strength and optimal well-being.
The goal will be developing a compassionate relationship with food, body and one’s self.
The program begins Mar. 17 and will be led by a bright group of expert professionals, who are all avid yoga practitioners.
The group will meet Thursdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m., and a pre-group meeting is required to ensure the program is the right fit for each student.
Lisa Westreich of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) works as a referral coordinator and case manager as well as a social worker. She is in charge of leading the program and many others. Dr. Jude Uy, a clinical psychologist at CAPS, is partnering with Westreich in guiding the group as well.
Yoga is geared toward body awareness, which is created through the focus of breath known as pranayama. Cultivating a strong connection with the breath can result in a clear mind, a better understanding of oneself and optimal strength.
“There’s actually a lot of research out there that suggests that body focus therapies like yoga mindfulness are really helpful with body image issues and eating disorders,” said Uy. “There’s also tons of research on mindfulness, in fact, not just for eating disorders, but for depression, anxiety and addictions, so we thought we would use those two pieces as a kind of way to help individuals bring greater awareness to their bodies.”
Carissa Ruf, an on-campus facilitator and 200-hour registered yoga instructor will have the role of teaching and guiding students through their yoga practice. She thinks it’s important to engage students in a journey of self-acceptance and self-compassion.
“I think the use of yoga and meditation is a way to get at the stuff that we can’t just get into in a talk-therapy session,” said Westreich excitedly. “There’s something about experientially being in your body, no matter what your body is, that can particularly help you.”
Yoga and meditation are not just centered on the physical postures known as asanas. It’s an exploration of the inner body and, once that happens, there can be a clearer understanding or realization of the self. “Yoga is bringing together the mind, the body and the spirit. It’s not just about the asanas, which are the physical postures,” said Uy.
By learning and practicing techniques that are taught in Mind, Body, Being, students will have the proper tools to positively transform themselves from the inside out.
Kristine DeJesus is a psychologist and coordinator of the Alcohol and Drugs program at CAPS. She will be in the program guiding the participants to a better understanding of themselves, thinking positively and the importance of self-love.
“For me, yoga is about just being all of who I am. It’s about being fully in my body,” described DeJesus. “Doing yoga, you learn about the amazing breath and depth of your body. It’s such a powerful and affirming experience.”