After separating from his wife for more than a year, Brian Balzar said he knew he needed a change.
His roommate, Dr. Emma Seppala, told him about a workshop called Yesplus that he said completely changed his outlook on life.
Today he credits the workshop Yesplus — yoga, empowerment and service — for improving his attitude. It focuses on relieving stress and helping people reach their “maximum potential.”
The five-day workshop meets all around the world, but has been growing on college campuses due to the high stress levels in students.
The Art of Living Club at the University of Minnesota brought the workshop to campus this week to help University students. For $30, the workshop — which normally costs $250 — was open to University students.
Over the next few days, participants will advance their skills in yoga, learn meditation and breathing techniques, participate in various learning activities, as well as take on a service project.
Along with Seppala, University junior and long-time Yesplus participant Eshitha Mogallapalli is co-teaching the workshop. Mogallapalli has been involved with the Art of Living Foundation since she was 8 years old and became a Yesplus instructor over the summer.
On Wednesday, Mogallapalli used the session to help the 11 members in the class get to know one another and practice basic yoga techniques.
Seppala first took the course when she attended Columbia University and was under a lot of stress. Afterward, she said her grades improved and she credits the program for her acceptance into a competitive Ph.D. program at Stanford University.
Today, she does research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she also teaches the workshop.
Seppala said Yesplus focuses on activities that make people feel great so they can then use the positive energy to do some kind of service work.
“The goal is to be at your maximum potential and be able to contribute in your own way,” she said. “Professionally, personally or whatever the goals are.”
For the service project, it’s up to the students to decide how they want to contribute. In the past, participants helped with earthquake relief through a fundraising concert and raised more than $2,000.
In the end, the workshop can affect people in a variety of ways.
For Mogallapalli, it was about helping her relax.
“It’s been really helpful in my life to be centered and not be distracted with my thoughts,” she said. “I’d get freaked out a lot for exams so it has really helped me focus and get a lot of sleep.”
But Balzar said that for him it was more about self-control. The yoga and breathing techniques helped him become more aware.
“Last year at this time I had never really experienced emotions at all,” he said. “Yesplus really helps me deal with emotions that come up in my life.”
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
When UMN students plan for a vacation, having trip cancellation travel insurance is a worthwhile commodity to check out.
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