Yoga workshops for wellness week allows students to relax

Emily Sun, Staff Writer

Coco Trentalancia (11) led two mediation workshops with Tibetan Buddhist monk Thupten Phuntsok on Wellness Wednesday, in which attendees participated in guided practice and learned the basics of meditation.

There is a stereotypical image of meditation as an über-serious activity — sitting cross-legged in a dark and silent room with candles — but it is easy to incorporate it into daily life, Trentalancia said. There is no right or wrong way to do it; while her mother teaches meditation and spends an hour on it every day, Trentalancia likes to use five-minute guided breathing exercises on YouTube, she said. 

Devan Joseph (10) attended the workshop with her English class and has prior experience meditating with a palm stone, crystals, yoga, and breathing exercises, she said. Her yoga mats have been collecting dust since she became too busy to use them in high school, so the workshop allowed her to revisit the practice that helps her unwind. “If it’s been a day that’s really, really stressful and I need a break from the real world, I ground myself and I have that moment where it’s just me and the world,” she said. “I like to think we have a silent conversation.”

Trentalancia designed the workshop during an internship last summer with Hannah Hoch, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, she said. It was originally intended to run as a 12-week course on meditation, but since she did not have time to implement the full program this year, she condensed it into a Wellness Wednesday workshop with help from psychologists Dr. Liz Westphal and Dr. Ian Pervil.

She knew Phuntsok through her mother because they were colleagues at MNDFL, a company that offers meditation spaces and training, she said. She invited him because students might take the meditation more seriously if they hear from a trained monk who has studied the religion for over 25 years, she said. Phuntsok visited the workshop via Zoom and led a guided meditation. 

Hopefully, people implement what they learned from the workshop in their daily lives, Trentalancia said. “I don’t want meditation to be a one-time thing.” Even if they just spend a few minutes on mindfulness, it can be a powerful tool to let go of unnecessary worries, especially during high-pressure periods like the end of the year.