A handful of Kalamazoo College staff and faculty members spend their lunch hour reconnecting with their bodies and minds through the practice of yoga. The Faculty Staff Yoga program welcomes employees of all levels of experience for an hour of restorative postures every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in various locations on campus.
“There’s a regenerative sense. You go back to your office more relaxed, more energized. You can refocus on the afternoon,” said Pam Sotherland, Program and Data Manager for the CCPD and yoga participant.
The yoga classes are offered at noon as a break in the employee work day.
“Many of us spend a lot of our time at a desk. The fact that you can get up at noon and stretch your body and return to the desk more posture correct helps us remain focused and get our work done,” said Eric Staab, the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid and another yoga program participant.
In addition to reducing stress, the program offers an opportunity to improve strength, flexibility, energy, and employee camaraderie, said Ken Wood, the college’s Fitness and Wellness Advisor.
Wood manages the Faculty Staff Wellness Program that began in 2008, which is currently utilized by 30-40% of K employees. The program offers a variety of fitness classes as well as wellness assessments and coaching, a Weight Watchers program, and the Faculty Staff Gym.
“In general, the fact that the college now offers wellness classes is wonderful. It really improves satisfaction in the workplace. It encourages self-care during the middle of the day when you’re busy serving so many others,” said Sotherland.
While the yoga program has struggled to find the most convenient times and locations to hold classes, many of these issues will be solved with the planned opening of the Fitness and Wellness Center in September 2016.
The new building will offer dedicated space for fitness classes such as yoga and the larger workout floor space, which will be three to four times larger than the current Anderson gym, allows the potential for group training activities led by an instructor, said Wood.
With the new facilities, Wood hopes to expand the wellness program in the future to include students as well as college employees.
“It’s a personal goal of mine to at some point be able to expand the wellness program to include students because I think they would benefit just as much. Students have to deal with stress and sleep deprivation and not making the healthiest food choices,” Wood said.
Wood hopes to one day offer students classes, group training, and a variety of wellness workshops, such as dietary, financial, and environmental wellness instruction.