Free yoga classes will be held throughout the semester as a part of ASU 365 Community Union’s LiveWell Stadium Yoga series. The hour-long sessions start at 7 a.m. at the Coca-Cola Sun Deck on various Mondays and Thursdays throughout the fall.
Victor Hamburger, senior director of ASU 365 Community Union, said in a wide array of possible events, yoga was an easy choice.
“What we wanted to do was give students and staff something they can use to better cope with any stressors, and what we’ve found is a really fun community,” Hamburger said.
The mission of ASU 365 Community Union is to utilize the Sun Devil Stadium beyond football games in an effort to strengthen the ASU community. This includes hosting conferences, events, and now, yoga.
Yoga was a perfect option because of its scientific support as a “stress manager,” he said. Hamburger said the activity positively impacted his own team at ASU when they decided to participate in early morning yoga sessions before work.
“Just from our staff, we had one of our most productive weeks ever when we did yoga,” he said. “Everyone was so energized and we wanted to bring that to ASU as a whole.”
According to Mayo Clinic, the health benefits of practicing yoga include stress reduction, improved fitness and management of chronic conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure.
“There is pretty good evidence that yoga has beneficial effects on both physical and mental health,” said John Barton, director of clinical psychology at the ASU Department of Psychology. “Doing yoga in groups is also an opportunity to build support. You can get out of the house and out of your head.”
The “mind-body practice” is something that, according to Mayo Clinic, almost everybody can utilize.
The classes are taught at an introductory level and, according to the ASU 365 Community Union website, some of the participating yoga studios include Laughing Buddha Yoga, Sweatshop on Central and Yoga to the People. Though the last class of the semester will be held Dec. 2, staff members hope to extend the classes beyond the fall semester.
Brit Reid, marketing and sales coordinator for ASU 365 Community Union, said that free yoga offers students and staff a convenient way to gather and try something new. She said the classes typically have 20 people, but with more attention, could grow significantly.
“We’ve gotten a lot of people interested through Facebook and social media, but word-of-mouth has played a big role in getting people to come out,” Reid said.
The reaction to the free yoga classes has been "overwhelmingly positive so far," she said. With a collection of studios and instructors involved, Reid said ASU 365 Community Union members hope to provide participants the variety that yoga offers.
As a wellness initiative, Reid said the yoga classes have accomplished ASU 365 Community Union’s goals.
“This has been a really good way to get people to take an hour for themselves that they wouldn't have otherwise,” Reid said.
Clarification: This story was updated on Oct. 1 to more clearly state the yoga studios involved in the program.