Yoga Flows to UNCW

New yoga minor poses students for growth

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Because it is constantly looking for ways to be at the forefront of the newest ideas that will benefit not only the student body but the community that supports it, the University of North Carolina Wilmington has recently started to offer students the option of minoring in yoga studies.

“The yoga minor started almost as a far-out dream for something that would be an amazing addition to the curriculum at UNCW,” says LAURA SILJANDER (right), instructor at UNCW. “We realized what an impact the PED 101 yoga classes had on the overall wellness of our students and thought that if students had the opportunity to deepen their practice and their studies even more, those benefits would be even greater.”

Siljander and JESSICA HARTMAN, lecturer at the UNCW College of Health and Human Services, were involved in developing the program. The minor started in the fall 2019 semester.

“College students are super stressed which affects their mental health, emotional health, and physical health,” Siljander says. “Yoga teachings can help guide them through these challenging times.”

Those who are new to yoga may not fully understand all that goes into it and all that can be learned from it. This is especially true of the minor program as well.

“Students are required to take either a minimum of 10 yoga classes or the PED 101 Yoga Lab before they start the minor,” Siljander says.

Students then must take classes such as introduction to yoga teaching and methodology and advanced yoga teaching and methodology.

“Additionally, they are required to take physical activity pedagogy, an anatomy and physiology class, and Asian religions,” Siljander says. “To complete the minor, students have the option of taking happiness and wellbeing, health and aging, mindfulness, or functional kinesiology for three elective credits.”

The minor was approved through the Yoga Alliance, a nonprofit yoga accreditation association, and UNCW. Once they complete the minor, students can register with Yoga Alliance as Registered Yoga Teachers.

Whether or not the students who enroll in these classes ever practice yoga again once their courses are complete, the lessons learned, and dedication required will remain steadfast in their everyday lives.

“We hope that through the personal growth that students achieve in this program, they will be able to share their knowledge in their future careers as well as with their friends and family,” Siljander says.

“We believe those students who study social work and psychology could bring some of these techniques into a clinical setting with their clients. Physical therapists, physical trainers, and occupational therapists could also bring yoga into their practice as a complementary modality,” Siljander adds.

While the university is only the second public school to offer a yoga minor program, instructors hope to inspire other colleges and universities to do the same, so students can use their knowledge to benefit themselves and contribute to their communities, Siljander says.

It is also understood that the yoga studies minor will help students in more ways than one.

“As educators, we recognize that stress management, self-reflection, and mindfulness practices are important to both academic and personal growth,” Siljander says.

Instructors hope to offer more class opportunities on campus as well as abroad. Students will get to travel to Costa Rica in the summer of 2021 for three weeks where they will complete their Introduction to Teaching and Methodology course.

“We also hope to collaborate more with the local community as well as start conducting yoga research,” she says. “We feel that this program provides students with the tools that will help them throughout not only their college careers but for the rest of their lives.”


To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.

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Categories: Health