UIndy faculty and staff combine yoga and acts of service

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This semester, opportunities for yoga have been provided to students, faculty and staff through Yoga for Service. Started and currently run by Assistant Professor Taylor Gurley, she first had the idea after teaching yoga in a kinesiology course for undergraduate students and said there was a lot of interest in yoga from faculty and staff. 

Gurley said she wanted to find a way to instruct her yoga sessions while also giving back and avoiding not having to charge people to come to them. Through donations, people come to each yoga session and put forth a donation to a respective cause or theme during the month they are happening. 

Administrative Assistant Franci Dilk, a repeat participant at yoga events throughout her time at UIndy, believes that Gurley offers yoga sessions that are different from ones in the past.

“I think Taylor [Gurley] in particular, I think she has a really different approach than what we’ve been used to,” Dilk said. “She has a lot of variety in her class. She will always give modifications for someone new. If it’s a pose that might be difficult, she’s aware of that and she’ll give modifications.”

While in the yoga sessions, students, staff and faculty follow the instructions Gurley gives, usually lasting around 45 minutes to an hour, according to Dilk.

“Taylor introduces herself, explains what the routine is going to be, and then really we just jump in,” Dilk said. “She does… basic stretching, and then we start moving into the poses and at the end, [we] do a little more stretching and then have a deep relaxation, where you’re literally just relaxing and taking in the quiet time and just having a moment to yourself… Usually, people don’t want to get out, they’re so relaxed and they feel so refreshed, it’s hard to get back to work.”

Gurley runs the sessions in the yoga room on the first floor of the Health Pavilion. She runs everything, creates and leads the workouts.

“I create the yoga flow for all different body types and ability levels,” Gurley said. “We have all the materials, we have yoga mats, blankets, blocks, any props that they might need. They’ll just be welcomed in and participate as they can. They can make their donation and that’s about it.”

There have been two scheduled yoga sessions across this semester. The first yoga session held this semester held a donation towards the UIndy Food Pantry, according to Gurley. She said she will try to make each Yoga for Service session next semester a theme relative to the month. 

“So we had one event last month, and we made donations to the food [pantry],” Gurley said. “And then December is warm clothing donations, and then my plan is to do one each month next semester to a different organization.” 

Dilk said there is no judgment during the sessions and they are a great place to begin for those who want to try yoga. Gurley said there is appeal for different areas of donation themes from people who have attended. 

“I want to be able to appeal to a lot of different interest level[s],” Gurley said. “Some people feel strongly about animal care, so I’ll be able to offer that. We’ll be able to offer more for the homeless shelter. I’m going to actually talk to some of my students just to see if they know of specific organizations in the community that they really feel have a need. We just want to go where the need is.”

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