Students stretch to start up Asian-American Wellness Nights

The newly renovated Erie Residence Hall hosted the first event in a series of six Asian-American Wellness Nights on Feb. 7.

These activities, which were arranged by the Asian studies department and Residence Life, are occurring in different residence halls around campus and are led by various guest instructors and professors.

Asian studies department Coordinator Randy Kaplan designed the program.

"My reason for designing the series is, of course, to promote multiculturalism in any way I can on campus," Kaplan said when asked about the purpose of the series. "Also to make students aware of the many non-chemical ways in the world to take care of their bodies."

"We believe that students' education extends beyond the classroom, that health and stress-relief are essential for academic success," added Dean of Residential Living Celia Easton.

To kick off the series, a group of over 20 students relaxed and were rejuvenated by trying Anusara Yoga, a modern school of yoga that combines elements of meditation and exercise. Guest instructor Angela Caplan led the group through several sets of poses, incorporating both partnering and individual work into the hour-long class. Caplan, who graduated from Geneseo in 1974, teaches yoga at Valley School of Dance on Main Street and Sweet Briar Radiance Spa & Healing Arts Center.

Caplan taught with contagious energy and enthusiasm, offering individuals praise and constructive criticism. Although the class consisted mostly of beginners, the students progressed quickly to difficult stances and stretches and learned the names of various poses.

"If I were to pick a theme tonight, it would be breath," said Caplan. "That's what makes you turn inward, incorporating meditation into the exercise." Caplan continually reminded the group that breath is the key to connect the body and the spirit.

"It's not about just making a pretty pose; it's about entering a pose that connects you to the goodness, wisdom, compassion and love within," explained Caplan.

The students reacted well to Caplan's instruction - by the event's end, everyone involved was uplifted and relaxed. After the class, many students stayed to greet and thank a gracious Caplan. CAS provided sushi after the event.

Among the students attending was junior Steve Sanfilippo, co-president of the Geneseo Yoga Club.

"For all the time we spend studying here, we hardly spend time resting," Sanfilippo said. "The time we do spend resting is usually draining, whereas yoga is uplifting."

The next wellness event will be held Monday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in Onondaga Hall. The workshop will focus on the Chinese medicinal exercise qigong and will be led by Lisa O'Shea of the Qigong Institute of Rochester.