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March 13, 2009
Vol. 50 No. 17

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Integral yoga to improve health

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The spring yoga program at Susquehanna has been extended to include faculty and staff as well as students, in the chance to "stretch away the stress" in weekly integral yoga classes.

According to Health Center nurse Margie Briskey, an organizer of the program, the classes will be offered from March 11 to April 22 on Wednesday evenings from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for faculty and staff, and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. for students. Admittance requires a $25 introductory fee, while the Health Center covers the remainder of the cost.

"I just thought that it would be a great way for our students, faculty and staff to rejuvenate and de-stress as we start the second half of this semester," Briskey said of the program. This will be the third semester during which Susquehanna has offered a yoga program.

According to a campus bulletin board posting by Briskey titled "Stressed out? Stretch out!" the classes are meant to "enhance healthier lifestyle practices and well-being." The participants will learn the specific style of integral yoga under the direction of Sudharman, director of the Integral Yoga Center in New Berlin, Pa., where he has taught for more than 30 years.

According to Briskey, Sudharman first came to the university several years ago for a health fair. Briskey said that at that time, she was looking for a way to "expose our students to traditional and alternative approaches to health, but I wanted these resources to have credence, to have been researched and to have presenters with depth that believe and know their product." Briskey said Sudharman fit that role perfectly.

Briskey also said that the timing couldn't have been better for Susquehanna, as Sudharman "was looking to become more involved in student activities at a college level" after recently completing a weekend retreat with students from his alma mater, Cornell University. Once Sudharman conversed with Susquehanna students at the health fair, Briskey said that "he was impressed with [their] courteous, respectful and inquisitive manners. He very willingly accepted when we asked him to come to campus to teach a class."

Partly due to efforts by Sudharman, this will be the first yoga program made available to Susquehanna faculty and staff.

"To all students to truly relax and feel comfortable, we've always limited class space for students only," Briskey said. However, she also said that faculty and staff asked her if they could take part each time the classes were introduced through the e-newsletter, and "we felt a need to respond."

Briskey said that Sudharman worked with the Health Center, Jim Findlay from the athletics department and Maureen Pugh from the human resources department to coordinate and finance an additional class for faculty and staff. Briskey said that once the faculty and staff class was offered through the e-Newsletter, it was filled to its capacity of 25 people after 20 minutes.

The participants in this semester's yoga program will learn the integral yoga style, which is, according to a pamphlet from the Integral Yoga Center, a combination of hatha, raja, bhakti, japa, karma and jnana yoga styles.

"This integration of yoga addresses the whole person, body, mind, emotions and spirit. [It is] a simple, gentle approach to life that allows health, joy, peace and fulfillment to be lived on a daily basis," the pamphlet said.

"My hope is that [students, faculty and staff] enjoy the classes and learn healthier approaches toward wellness and relaxation in these stressful final weeks of the semester," Briskey said.

Of Sudharman, Briskey said: "Yoga embodies his approach to's who he is, it's his belief system. His gentle, peaceful spirit comes through in every conversation and in every class."

According to the Integral Yoga Center pamphlet, Sudharman is a former Academic All-American football player and a former United States Navy Seal officer. He can be reached via e-mail. More information can also be found on the Integral Yoga Center's web site,


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