The Safety and Environment Education Center is calling all yogi masters and novices alike to dispel midterm stress, receive free instruction and even possibly create a national record this Thursday at Yoga Fest.
"The goal of this event is to help students learn to alleviate stress while increasing fitness and overall health," said Laura Bryant, grant and program coordinator for the S.E.E. Center. "We are aiming to set a campus record for the largest number of students practicing yoga at one time, as well as teach students how to invest in themselves, engage in the practice of yoga and reduce and manage their stress through controlled breathing and relaxation techniques."
Yoga Fest, UT's first-ever event of its kind, will be held in conjunction with the annual campus event "Unwind Before You Unravel," which promotes healthy behaviors and stress relief.
Instructors Mona Clough of Real Hot Yoga and Shanti of Yoga with Shanti will be present to lead the 50-minute session beginning at 3 p.m. on the Humanities Plaza lawn.
Bryant said learning to practice yoga will yield healthful results and strategies that UT students, especially, can beneficially apply in their lives.
"Stress is always a concern for students," she said. "Sixty-nine percent of UT students reported having tremendous or more than average stress, according to the 2012 Annual Health and Wellness Survey. Yoga Fest is a way to introduce just one of the many ways students, faculty and staff can work to reduce their stress and stay healthy."
Shannon Rosedale, a S.E.E. Center graduate assistant in social work, said she believes the event is an ideal opportunity for beginners to come try out their Eagle and Cat poses obligation-free with the assistance of an instructor.
"It will be a great chance for a free session if you've never tried it out before," Rosedale said. "There will be a lot of people there so you there's no need to feel nervous about being singled out. And it's a good opportunity to do it outdoors, which is always a unique experience."
The S.E.E. Center, which has been planning the event since March, also organized some added incentives for attending beyond an increased physical and mental wellness in a largely overworked student body.
At the conclusion of the practice, Bryant said, the center will raffle off prizes from Lululemon Athletica, Real Hot Yoga, Hot90 Bikram Yoga and The Practice. The total value of the prizes will be more than $1,000, and the first 150 students who arrive at Yoga Fest will receive a free Yoga Fest T-shirt.
Bryant, who has been practicing yoga for seven years, said she stresses the importance of incorporating a unifying mind and body practice like yoga into students' often chaotic weeks.
"Yoga provides me with a space in which I can find peace, mental clarity and strength," she said. "Its a way that I can become more aware of myself, my actions and my presence. We want students to get excited about yoga, healthy habits and ways to alleviate stress that are fun and be done in community with others."
Check-in begins at 2:30 p.m. Mats or towels are encouraged, though not mandatory.