Hillsdale College student Jade Juniper is leading yoga classes, hoping to create a place for students to de-stress together and cultivate a community of meditation and relaxation.
Juniper, a junior, recently obtained the 200-hour requirement to be officially certified as a yoga teacher this past summer.
Juniper has been doing yoga for the past five years, and became committed during high school. As her workload at school became more demanding, she sought out yoga as an outlet to release her stress and balance her academic life.
“I wanted to bring that skill to campus because I felt that there was a limited amount of spaces for students to decompress in a high-stress school setting,” Juniper said.
One of the students who has been attending her classes, Hannah Neukom, said, “Taking time to focus on something other than classes and homework has been really nice.”
As a psychology major, Juniper recently started a research project that draws upon her background in yoga. Her interest in yoga inspired her to study the connection between meditation and its effect on anxiety.
She said that yoga, unlike other therapeutic remedies, is often easier for those who are not very verbal or have social anxiety. Things like talk therapy can be intimidating because one might be foisted right into problems, whereas meditation encourages one to observe them as opposed to engaging in them.
“You are letting things come to you,” Juniper said.
Juniper’s class begins with introductions, then a 25 – 30 minute flow sequence, followed by a 15 – 20 minute meditation or discussion of yoga philosophy.
Juniper said she teaches “restorative yoga,” which encourages holding postures for long periods of time.
“This is so you can focus on releasing tension in the body and then it will be easier to release tension of the mind as well,” Juniper said.
She also wants to integrate games and other activities that will make the class fun and engaging.
The class’ participants said they enjoy its health benefits.
“I love the combination of yoga and guided meditation because it really helps with the stress of the week to relax me,” Neukom said.
Juniper said she seeks feedback from those who attend the club so that she can tailor it to the needs of her members. She hopes to foster a relaxed environment for people of all levels of physical wellness.
“Yoga is very personal, so it helps you appreciate your own natural abilities,” Juniper said. “It also requires a level of discipline and consistency, that help renew the body.”
Meghan Koepke is another student who has attended sessions.
“I thought it was so much more special to practice in that community setting,” Koepke said. “I’ll definitely be coming back.”
Juniper holds classes on Mondays from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the George C. Roche Sports Complex dance studio on the second floor. Sign ups are through the Student Activities Office email.