Yesplus yoga workshop comes to U

Besides yoga, the workshop also aims to promote empowerment and service.

Anne Baggenstoss relaxes during meditation at the Yesplus workshop Wednesday night in the Saint Paul Student Center. The workshop is open to students and intended to teach methods to relieve stress and increase focus.

Erin Westover

Anne Baggenstoss relaxes during meditation at the Yesplus workshop Wednesday night in the Saint Paul Student Center. The workshop is open to students and intended to teach methods to relieve stress and increase focus.

Jenna Wilcox

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 âÄî yoga, empowerment and service âÄî for improving his attitude. It focuses on relieving stress and helping people reach their âÄúmaximum potential.âÄù

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 âÄî which normally costs $250 âÄî 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 WisconsinâÄìMadison, 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.

âÄúThe goal is to be at your maximum potential and be able to contribute in your own way,âÄù she said. âÄúProfessionally, personally or whatever the goals are.âÄù

For the service project, itâÄôs 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.

âÄúItâÄôs been really helpful in my life to be centered and not be distracted with my thoughts,âÄù she said. âÄúIâÄôd get freaked out a lot for exams so it has really helped me focus and get a lot of sleep.âÄù

But Balzar said that for him it was more about self-control. The yoga and breathing techniques helped him become more aware.

âÄúLast year at this time I had never really experienced emotions at all,âÄù he said. âÄúYesplus really helps me deal with emotions that come up in my life.âÄù