Stand still like a mountain at the top of your mat. As you breathe in, sweep your arms above your head, then breathe out and fold forward. With your hands on the ground, step or hop back to plank position. Lower your body to the mat, then press up into upward-facing dog. On your next exhale, press back to downward-facing dog.
On Jan. 19, 91 people shook their asanas at MacEwan University Sport and Wellness’s first-ever yoga rave. The event was held in Paul Byrne Hall and featured a live DJ, flashing lights, fluorescent body paint, and glow sticks, along with complementary Vitamin Water and swag from local vendors like Lulu Lemon, Hudsons, and Davids Tea.
Jess Walker is a recreation consultant with MacEwan Sport and Wellness and co-organizer of the event. The idea came to her when she and colleagues attended last year’s Western Canadian Campus Recreation Conference.
“The University of Victoria was there, and they were talking about their legacy event, which is the yoga rave,” Walker says. According to Walker, a legacy event is a university’s defining activity, something students look forward to participating in each year. While MacEwan doesn’t yet have its own legacy event, Walker says its inflatables tournament and the yoga rave are two contenders.
Feedback after the event was positive. “It was unique, it was fun,” Walker says. “The music was great, the yoga class itself was challenging but not too challenging, and we had components of both yoga and (dancing) around.
“The energy in the room was supportive. Everyone who was there was like-minded and wanted to be there for a good cause, but to also try something new, maybe push boundaries a little bit.”
Walker says she and her co-organizer wanted to include a mental health component from the time they pitched the event back in June of 2016.
“We’re here to help the students have that well-rounded experience – so emotional health, mental health, physical health, those are all really cyclical components,” Walker says.
“Jack.org was that mental health component that kind of fit along with the yoga side of things. The yoga also has a physical activity side, and then the rave part – the dancing, the music, the fun atmosphere – gave that kind of emotional (side).”
Jack.org is a national organization that focuses on mental health and suicide prevention. MacEwan’s own chapter of jack.org opened its doors in September of 2016, and after meeting with club executive Simone Chan, Walker knew she wanted to work with the group.
“If we had donated the money to, let’s say, a national-level body, like Canadian Mental Health, the money may have been distributed across multiple platforms, whereas going through jack.org, it goes directly back to our MacEwan students, which is what we wanted.”
“We’re here to help the students have that well-rounded experience – so emotional health, mental health, physical health, those are all really cyclical components.” – Jess Walker
More than $600 was raised at the yoga rave, and all of it will go to the MacEwan chapter of jack.org. The money will help two delegates attend the jack.org summit in Toronto this March, where students from universities across the country will share ideas about mental health initiatives and what’s working on their campuses.
Walker says she is excited to see what the club will implement when they return from the summit.
“That professional development component will feed back into giving back to the community.”
Cover photo by Virginia Dowdell.