As the sun sets over Pikes Peak, CC students gather in El Pomar’s new Louis Multipurpose Room to wind down from a busy day of classes and homework. Yoga has been present in CC’s culture for years. However, only just this year has it become a staple in the community due to the increase in funding, the construction of the new yoga studio, and the hard work and passion of the student instructors heading the newly-developed program.
However, seniors Emily Faxon, Meridith Antonucci, and Sarah Hutchinson have been the driving forces in legitimizing yoga practice on campus as something more lasting and more available.
The renovation of El Pomar Sports Center assisted in making these changes happen. With the reconstruction came a new addition, the Louis Multipurpose Room, an exercise studio overlooking Washburn Field and Pikes Peak that is designated for yoga practice and classes.
Senior Faxon advocated for the move out of Cossitt and celebrates what the new studio offers.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “They are real floors and we don’t have to fight the dance department for studio space because it’s ours. [The dance department] would get in our way, we would get in their way. It was just awful. This space, though, we can open up the full-length windows. It is so nice when it’s warm out.
This relocation has integrated CC yoga into the fitness center and the athletic department now pays CC student instructors to teach the classes.
Senior and program co-leader Antonucci is also pleased with the move and grateful for the athletic department’s employment; she has, however, noticed a few small changes since the move.
“Up until 5th block this year, we were completely independent,” she said. “That’s why it has been so hard to find funding. Now that we’re getting funded through the athletic department, they have more of a say in what goes on, what we call classes, and when we operate.”
Senior instructor Zac Chapman feels that this recent move to the fitness center is helping the yoga program flourish and spread interest to a broader range of students.
“Our great yoga community is now being nurtured through the athletic department. [The interest] has definitely increased across the board,” said Chapman. “With the athletics department you get a lot of people [who are] athletically-minded. But then, there’s also the kids who are into the more contemplative aspect of it.”
Faxon agrees that changing locations is adding to the spectrum of the yoga program, mostly in assisting in the introduction of new group fitness classes and providing mats, cleaning supplies, bolsters, wraps, blankets, and straps.
“We have core classes now. We have Zumba, Tai Chi, that’s all organized under the fitness center,” said Faxon. “We’ve been talking about introducing a cross-fit class, and cardio kickboxing starts sometime next week. I think there is a lot of potential.”
An advocate for the more spiritual approach to yoga practice, Antonucci finds the new fitness atmosphere a bit distracting.
“For me yoga isn’t so much about a workout as it is about the experiences, so there is definitely a different vibe with the new studio,” she said. “You hear basketballs bouncing outside and music. But it’s awesome that we have our own space.”
The highlight of the newly thriving yoga program is the standard and authenticity of the yoga instructors involved. The fitness center pays instructors who have been certified under the Yoga Alliance, an organization that instructs and certifies instructors using a 200-hour certification course. The CC yoga program has 16 instructors, 14 of which are certified.
“Before, you didn’t have to be certified,” said Faxon. “It was just whoever could teach, would teach. Now that it is more of a school-sponsored program, we have greater accountability and a great amount of certified teachers”.
For the first year that instructors are urged towards certification, Saks senses higher anticipations. “There’s this new expectation that the ‘certified’ teacher can teach a legit class,” she said. “It adds a certain professionalism to it.”
Since the athletic department now requires teachers to be certified in order to be paid, interested teachers are looking for assistance with the course fee.
“We hope that there’s a possibility that the athletic department may help fund or subsidize the training and certification,” said Chapman.
The CC yoga program’s changes have helped an already talented group of instructors to thrive, contributing to a variety of classes and styles offered to the CC community.
”Each instructor is trained usually in a different way,” said Chapman. “Because there is such a plethora of yoga teachings these days, it’s insane how many styles we offer.”
“There is Dharma, and Jivamukti. We mostly teach Vinyasa. But there’s some Ashtanga,” says Faxon. “Some classes are more spiritual than others, some are more core-based. There even used to be a hip hop yoga.”
Antonucci loves what the yoga program has personally given to her.
“What is really cool about CC yoga is that it gives young teachers like myself the opportunity to grow as teachers. I think it’s a really special experience to lead classes for kids that are your age,” she said. “It’s student-run, for students. Yoga can be disseminated in very different ways and I think that having various styles and teachers is a wonderful opportunity for the CC community.”
According to Saks and other younger instructors, the changes and progress made this year were achieved through the hard work of the seniors who passionately wanted to improve and enhance the opportunities for yoga on campus.
“Being able to watch, since my freshman year, the program evolve and see what it is now…I love CC yoga; it is an incredible opportunity for our school,” said Antonucci. “I think CC yoga gives people who wouldn’t go to a yoga studio, because of time or money or whatever, the opportunity for them to try yoga in a different setting with a whole variety of classes and teachers.”