Virtual yoga connects students while social distancing

Shayla White rolls out her yoga mat, preparing to teach another yoga sculpt class. 

But instead of looking at her class in the padded multi-purpose room in the Elmen Center, she opens up Zoom and begins recording the workout from her basement. 

“Welcome to Yoga Sculpt with Shayla,” White says to her phone screen.

The workout lasts around forty minutes, going through various poses like the child’s pose and the downward dog, all of which are accompanied by upbeat pop songs. The last section of her workout involves a few minutes of focused breathing and relaxation stretches.  

When she’s done, she says goodbye to her Zoom class (which usually has four or five people actively watching) stops recording and uploads her video to the Augie Rec YouTube page.

The Augie Rec Center YouTube page also hosts videos for virtual barre, aerobics and modified circuits for all Augustana students to watch and participate in. Rec Services Coordinator Lydia Lindberg set up these online courses to encourage students to stay active and as a way to connect with the community while in quarantine. She says it’s difficult to get person-to-person interaction when social distancing, but classes like virtual yoga give participants “a different way to connect to someone who [they] might not usually connect with.”

In going online, White says that she’s even had a few people come that don’t usually participate in the in-person group fitness classes that are offered on campus. “No one can really see you working out,” White said. 

She said being able to hide behind a screen allows some students to feel more comfortable when trying out the different poses and workouts. 

Having a regularly scheduled yoga class also helps students like 2020-2021 ASA Vice President-elect Hannah DeWild stay motivated to exercise while at home.

“[It creates a space] where we all can still get together to work out and mimic just a little slice of our normal schedules while all apart,” DeWild said. 

White believes that yoga is “a great form of exercise and self-care that anyone can try, regardless of flexibility.” There are many different yoga routines White has uploaded for students to choose from, based on their ability and mood. After a long day, White’s slow and easy workouts loosen muscles and allow her to relax. If she wants to push herself, she does hot yoga sculpt to achieve fitness goals like mastering new poses. 

“Yoga is a workout that combines the physical aspect of exercise with a mental aspect, which I think is really important to improving your overall well-being,” White said. 

Some students like DeWild have sent positive feedback to Lindberg about these classes, but she said not many students know about them. Rec Services hopes to continue spreading the word about their online fitness classes to encourage even more people to participate.

On Thursdays you can find DeWild at yoga sculpt, whose favorite yoga pose, the Warrior, allows her to “feel majorly powerful and bada**.”

For those interested in joining, each fitness class starts at 5 p.m. and runs Monday-Thursday. The links to the Zoom meetings and the YouTube page can be found on Augie’s website or the Rec Center Instagram. The handle is @AugieRec.

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