Yes Plus program comes to Stanford

Oct. 6, 2010, 2:02 a.m.

Everyone’s heard the saying: Stanford students are like ducks, calm on the surface, but paddling furiously under the water. The Wellness Project, a new student group, wants to give those ducks some water wings.

The organization is holding three Yes Plus workshops this quarter, aimed at teaching students to “utilize the power of natural yoga, breathing and meditation to decrease stress and increase focus,” said Vineet Singal ‘12, Wellness Committee Health Coordinator.

The five-day workshops are offered through the Art of Living Foundation in conjunction with Vaden Health Promotion Services, and though they normally cost $375, they are free for students who successfully submit a scholarship application. The first workshop is set for Oct. 6-10.

Chemistry graduate student Debanti Sengupta, last year’s Wellness Project president, first attended a Yes Plus workshop as an undergraduate student at Amherst College.

“I took the workshop at a time in my life when I was going through a lot of different changes,” she said. “I was very skeptical about how a five-day workshop might actually change anything, but the techniques that I learned there, the communities that I formed, have actually stayed with me since and have been an invaluable asset.”

The workshops teach students tools to deal with their stress and negative emotions and endeavor to promote a culture of well-being on campus.

The term “wellness” is often understood to mean a physical state, said Singal, “but I think there is a second, more ignored component: your emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being. And I use the word ‘spiritual’ in the very broad sense, to include things like religion, but also things like your own understanding of who you are and what you want to be.”

Breathing techniques and meditation are a big part of the workshops, Sengupta said, but the entire experience is holistic. “We also have a service component of the program that encourages students to take the energy that they gain with the techniques that we teach and give it back to the community in the form of a service project,” she said. Other parts of the workshop deal with leadership skills such as public speaking.

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