Campus News

Mini vacation

Training and development offers ‘Yoga at Your Desk’ class to alleviate workplace stress

For moments when the phone won’t stop ringing, there are 757 unread e-mails in your inbox and you feel like you don’t have a minute just to clear your head, yoga instructor Rhett Crowe says to take a “take a mini vacation.”

Crowe teaches “Yoga at Your Desk” a class offered quarterly by Human Resources’ training and development department. The class teaches basic stretches and mental exercises to alleviate workplace stress without booking a flight, taking
annual leave or even getting up from your desk.

“Taking a mini vacation” is one of the techniques taught in the 90-minute class. It’s literally taking two minutes out of your day to take a mental vacation and envision yourself at a quiet and relaxing beach. In the class Crowe, who also is a Web developer in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, teaches simple poses like “cow pose,” which she does while waiting for the printer.

In “cow pose,” you grab the outside back edges of your chair with your hands, lift your chest, pull your shoulder blades together towards your spine and gently arch backwards.

But before she gets to poses, Crowe starts the class by introducing yoga to her students. She tells them about its 5,000-year history and that the poses were only developed 2,000 years ago to help monks get in good enough shape to sit in meditation for hours on end. She tells them that yoga translates as “union” and refers to a union between the heart and head.

She then has her students kick off their heels and work Oxfords and get comfortable.

“Yoga is simple-not easy,” said Crowe. “It’s not easy to control your mind. We don’t do it much in our culture.”

She teaches about deep breathing, and tricking your brain to think you’re not stressed. She also teaches simple eye exercises-scanning the horizon and rolling your eyes clockwise-that are good for people who spend their workdays in front of the computer screen. There are also thigh and lower back stretches you can do while sitting at a desk chair.

Yoga’s goal “is to create peace in your life,” she said. “In the grand scheme of things, the goal is to create peace in the world.”

Terry Tyner, a student affairs professional in the College of Pharmacy, takes a weekly yoga class, but signed up for this class because she wanted to get a better idea of what she could do while sitting at her desk, and said she was going back to teach those in her office what she learned.

Crowe started doing yoga in 2001 because she wanted to be able to touch her toes and didn’t want to be a hunched-over old woman. Yoga changed her life so much she learned to teach it.

Now a registered yoga instructor, she teaches private classes, classes for Athens-Clarke County employees and classes at the Ramsey Student Center. On May 18 she will begin teaching a longer version of yoga for stress relief at the Ramsey Student Center. The class will be held on Sunday evenings, and registration begins April 29.

“Yoga at Your Desk” is one of many professional development courses offered by training and development each quarter. The classes range from learning Microsoft Excel to personal computer security, and last from one to several hours. Most of the classes are free, but can cost up to $65. Crowe’s next class is April 24 at 3 p.m.