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Oklahoma State University

Riata Center offering stress relief through yoga

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Yoga in the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship is designed to help students and faculty deal with stress.

Business is stressful.

So it is in the Spears School of Business. Stressful to teach. And to learn. And to move ideas from the varying stages of theory into real-life success, like they do in the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship.

And there’s a need to de-stress.

And there’s a way, too, through yoga.

A brainchild of Bruce Barringer, head for the School of Entrepreneurship, yoga is available free of charge to students and faculty each Tuesday and Thursday in the Riata Center. Barringer, borrowing from recent trends involving corporate wellness, brought the yoga class into play this semester and plans to offer it again in the fall.

“In Entrepreneurship, you work in teams,” Barringer said. “And these are often stressful jobs. Yoga provides a stress reliever. It helps people focus and become calmer.

“Yoga enhances a real connection of body and mind.”

Nationally, more and more companies are recognizing the need for corporate wellness. Some are turning to yoga, seen as a versatile exercise that aids flexibility, strength, balance, concentration and breath capacity, while reducing stress and anxiety.

Corporate Wellness Magazine cited a study by the World Health Organization that reported depression as the “most disabling illness for the corporate sector, second only to cardiovascular diseases. Long hours, multi-tasking, stiff competition, rigorous commute, irregular eating habits, sedentary desk jobs and bad sitting postures all combine to create a pool of highly stressed, inefficient and thus despairing workforce.”

At OSU, Carol Bender offers help through yoga, as an instructor who leads classes across campus, including in the Riata Center. Bender, a retired professor of molecular biology at OSU, said yoga offers obvious benefits for the business world.

“There are a lot of corporate programs right now,” said Bender, who served 25 years on the faculty at OSU. “And actually, a lot of business schools are introducing mindfulness and yoga, because I think as people relax, they can get into the creative side of their brain. It makes space, because we’re all going 24/7 all the time.

“And I think the best ideas come when you’re a little bit relaxed and not ruminating over a problem. Your mind can just let something in.”

Bender has been teaching yoga at OSU for 17 years, beginning when she was still teaching. She added the Riata Center class to one in the Student Union, as well as another large public class at the Botanic Garden.

In the Riata Center, a group of 12 – 10 students and two faculty members – gather for yoga on Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8:40. All are welcome and the class is free.

Barringer arranged for free mats for the students and hopes the program only grows going forward.

“My big vision is to have 100 in the Keystone Commons (in the new Business Building),” Barringer said.

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