By Josie Clemens
Lindsey Swenson, director of campus ministry at Presentation College, brings a new form of relaxation and reflection to PC through the practice of yoga.
Yoga sessions on campus began a year ago simply as a Lenten retreat for Swenson. She initially enrolled in a yoga teacher training program to become a certified yoga teacher and quickly jumped on the opportunity to lead students through sessions of yoga. However, Swenson did not just transfer what she learned through her personal courses to her sessions. She made it her own.
“I chose to put a faith-based spin on it by playing Christian music,” Swenson mentioned.
Because the yoga sessions are sponsored by Campus Ministry, Swenson incorporates faith into her teachings. This also serves as one of PC’s core values – whole person education. The moments of reflection mixed with intricate movements of the body that yoga provides enables students to connect body, mind, and spirit, developing spiritual, emotional, and physical growth through whole person education.
Even though Swenson built the initial yoga program around a six-week Lenten retreat, the popularity amongst the students motivated her to continue with her sessions through the spring semester. Then, when school started back up this fall, students still wanted more.
“When students got back on campus, they asked, ‘When are we doing yoga, are we still going to do yoga?” I said, ‘You know what, if there is a student interest then absolutely’ because campus ministry is here to serve the students,” Swenson explained.
Swenson used the students’ interest this fall as an opportunity to connect with students she normally would not see throughout the day. She also branched out and decided to teach different sessions of yoga, both for students and for athletes. R & R yoga sessions remains the typical session for the general student population, but Swenson now works with a handful of athletic teams as well.
“My prior life, before campus ministry, I was actually athletic training, and for me, yoga is kind of an in between of athletic training and campus ministry,” Swenson claimed.
Her experience in athletic training allows Swenson to deeply understand the intricate muscle movements and advantages yoga has for various sports teams. For example, football players have different capabilities and limitations in their movements than baseball players. The muscle structure of a football player remains more rounded and enables the hip to withstand more tension than baseball players who function slightly more “square,” making movement in the hips and lower body more challenging.
Other teams that Swenson has worked with include men’s and women’s soccer.
Although Swenson has already expanded yoga on campus a great deal since she began teaching, she continues to look for new ways to reach more people.
“I actually will be graduating with my 200-hour certification this weekend, so I will probably expand a little bit more once I am fully certified,” Swenson said. This expansion may include a noon session open to anyone on campus, and Swenson is open to explore other possibilities as well.
“If there are further requests, I would love to expand if that is something that the students, faculty, and staff want,” Swenson announced.
For now, R&R yoga is available to any student every Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. on the third floor of the East Suites. Students who attend should bring their own towel or yoga mat. Swenson welcomes all students to participate in R&R yoga and experience the effect it has on one’s mind, body, and spirit.
If anyone has questions regarding yoga in general, the R&R sessions, or campus ministry, contact Lindsey Swenson via email (Lindsey.Swenson@presentation.edu) or stop by her office on campus!