Hike to Yoga

In yoga practice, instructors often invite students to close their eyes and imagine a scene in nature. For a group of yoga aficionados and novices at Quinnipiac, the view is better with their eyes open. They're taking their yoga practice to new heights atop a nearby mountain. 

The University's Hike to Yoga program invites participants to hike up Sleeping Giant Mountain, located in a state park across the street from the Mount Carmel Campus, and take part in a guided yoga practice and meditation session. 

Participants begin at the foot of the mountain with a moment of guided meditation. The group then hikes the mountain alongside a guest speaker, who discusses a topic related to the Giant, such as poetry or natural science. At the peak of the Sleeping Giant, participants practice yoga, and the afternoon concludes with reflective journaling about the experience. The program aims to give participants the opportunity to leave their day-to-day worries behind and listen to their bodies.

"Our students, faculty and staff play so many roles," says Tami Reilly, associate athletic director of fitness and wellness, who led the yoga series. "You are doing one thing and thinking about another. We're really not good about being in the moment."

Reilly and Terri Johnson, director of academic affairs, organized the Hike to Yoga program, which takes place on select Mondays in the fall and spring. Between 15-20 people participate in each of the Hike to Yoga events, as well as a day of community service helping the Sleeping Giant Association clean the park. 

Vincent Contrucci, director of community service and an avid hiker, explains that for many students hiking Sleeping Giant is a rite of passage. He wants students to explore more of the mountain than what they would find on the commonly used tower trail.

Contrucci selects routes that complement the speaker's discussions. For instance, during a poetry hike, he made sure the route passed by ponds that were referenced in the poem. He says Hike to Yoga encourages students to learn outside the classroom.

"It gives faculty and staff a new way to engage with students," adds Contrucci.

Justine Salerno, a sophomore diagnostic imaging major who has been on two hikes, said she enjoys the Hike to Yoga events because they get people out of their comfort zone.

"Your body changes, your mind changes, your outlook on life is more positive. It's good for anyone at any age," says Salerno. Who wouldn't want to practice in nature, with a panoramic vista of Connecticut's rolling green hills? Salerno asked. "It's nice to step back and see things from a different view."

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