Relaxation exercises offered this summer to Syracuse University faculty and staff

Kiran Ramsey / Senior Design Editor

Stretch and Breathe is held on Mondays and Fridays from 12:10 to 12:30 p.m. in the Hall of Languages and on Wednesdays outside Skytop Office Building.

Syracuse University faculty and staff have the opportunity to “Stretch and Breathe” three days a week this summer, thanks to the university’s Wellness Initiative.

Stretch and Breathe is a pilot program for the summer. Depending on how many people are interested and participate, it possibly could continue past August, said Gretchen Darrow-Crotty, an instructor of theater design and technology in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Participation has been good, said Darrow-Crotty, who teaches the class, although it did take “a little while to get going.” The instructor added that normally there are five to nine people in the class.

Since her usual yoga classes last about an hour, Darrow-Crotty said she was excited to take on the challenge of developing a 20-minute class. The class begins with what she calls “centering” — where participants focus on breathing and lengthening their breaths.

Darrow-Crotty said the program focuses on the shoulders, neck and spine — parts of the body most affected by sitting at a desk for hours. Stretching can open those parts of the body and allow participants to go back to work feeling more focused, she said.

After completing a 200-hour teacher training certification program at the Dharma Yoga Center in New York City, Darrow-Crotty wanted to instruct the program to “bring a little quiet sanity to a busy day,” according to the program’s webpage.

“Any chance I get to share yoga with anyone — I’m happy. It’s been a huge life changer for me, keeping myself grounded and centered and not burned out at work,” Darrow-Crotty said. “It’s given me the tools to cope with life in a much more level way.”

The Wellness Initiative intends to impact SU staff and faculty by offering different programs each semester and during the summer, according to the program’s website.

Gail Grozalis, executive director of faculty and staff wellness and program designer for the initiative at SU, introduced Stretch and Breathe this summer.

Grozalis said Stretch and Breathe is a “great way for faculty and staff to step away from their workspace for 20 minutes to refresh and recharge; returning to work with a positive attitude and ready for a productive afternoon.”

Barbara Fought, an associate professor in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, has been an active participant in Stretch and Breathe. She said she appreciates the university for providing the program and its attention to wellness.

“(It’s) a nice respite in the middle of the day and I do feel opened up and relaxed as I leave,” Fought said. “In half an hour I can leave my desk, get there, do it and be back at my desk, so I like that it’s convenient and very doable. And you do get some good relaxation and stretching in 20 minutes.”

The class has many benefits to faculty and staff members, Grozalis said, adding that it creates a culture of wellness at SU, an environment for stress management and connections with other people.

To anyone who has uncertainties about coming to the class, Darrow-Crotty said there is nothing to be afraid of.

“I can’t think of anyone in the world who doesn’t need the practice of being able to focus on yourself … yoga really is for everyone and every body,” she said.

Although the Wellness Initiative is a resource exclusive to SU faculty and staff, the Office of Health Promotion provides similar resources to students, like information on health and wellness, sexual and relationship violence and safety, according to the office’s website.

Stretch and Breathe is held on Mondays and Fridays from 12:10 to 12:30 p.m. in Hall of Languages Room 500. The program is held on the lawn outside Skytop Office Building on Wednesdays.


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