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WITI Wellbeing Center

Shreya Rupesh

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The WITI Wellbeing Center was created by Anna and Daniel Leighton shortly after the lockdown started, to allow people to take a break from their day to relax and rejuvenate. With the pandemic keeping everyone at home, maintaining a schedule is extremely important. Anna explains, "We created the Wellbeing Center because we knew that connection during isolation was going to be really important and we believe self-care is crucial right now." Adding a bit of health-focused activity will help keep you calm and focused throughout the day.

Anna and Daniel, "have been personally working with most of our Wellbeing Center instructors for many years and are happy to share their expertise with the WITI community." These instructors offer many classes and guide participants through learning about and experiencing energy management and breathing techniques, easy yoga, meditation with movement, and techniques to help with anxiety. All six teachers use different techniques to improve your wellbeing. Alyse Hart is a Holden Qi Gong facilitator who uses simple Qi Gong movements and breathing techniques to control your energy. Fred Sugerman, the founder of Medicine Dance, is a movement artist who tackles mindfulness by performing movement exercises. Alicia Maher teaches students how to overcome anxiety using many of her helpful tips. Lotem Porat is a yoga and meditation instructor who offers simple yoga classes to relax your mind. Kim Linton, the owner of 1Light Daring Leadership & Facilitation, helps individuals and teams work efficiently, by providing solutions to one's issues. Denise Hamilton, writer, producer, stage director and founder of Race Relay™, guides many conversations about race, called "Business Not As Usual: Creating A Safe Space To Talk About Race".

As a rising junior in high school, I have a lot of education-related stress in my life; with the SATs coming up, I have to study vigorously in order to reach my intended score. To reduce my stress, I decided to participate in a week of classes and note down the results.

Day 1: Energy Management with Alyse Hart
After a few hours of SAT prep, I decided to put my large workbook of math problems away and take an Energy Management class. This class consisted of practicing Qi Gong, movements that help center the body. I had never heard of Qi Gong before, so I was overwhelmed with excitement. Throughout the class, Alyse guided me through breathing techniques and simple movements. With feeling trapped and disconnected at home, trying new things can help prevent the fatigue and stress that comes with quarantine; after all, the most physical activity I get is from going on a run around my neighborhood, so this movement class was a very pleasant change. After the class, I decided to read a book, and I noticed that I stayed much more focused than before. Overall, I felt much more rejuvenated and calm.

Day 2: Easy Yoga To Recover From Your Day with Lotem Porat
After achieving positive results yesterday, I wanted to see what the WITI Wellbeing Center offered today. I read my book and then decided to take a yoga class with Lotem Porat. This morning I woke up with a slight headache, so I hoped that yoga would relieve me of this pain. Unlike other classes I took, this class was much calmer and slower, which I appreciated. While stretching, I could feel my tensions dissolve; my back was less stiff, and my headache was lessened. My favorite part about this class was how comforting Lotem was; I loved the explanations she talked us through. The yoga helped me get rid of the knots in my back, and my mind was clear. The previous worries I had constantly been thinking about had all been relieved remarkably fast. After this class, I was in an unusually calm state of mind and decided to paint a picture. After painting a beautiful sunset, I went back to studying for the SAT Math. I realized it was much harder for me to get distracted, and I ended up studying for hours.

Day 3: Energy Management with Alyse Hart
Today, I woke up feeling a little off and decided to go on a run. The run allowed me to collect my thoughts; however, my mood was still terrible. I checked on the WITI Wellbeing Center; today's class was another Energy Management class. To clear my mind and emotions, I once again attended the class; after all, this was definitely negative energy that needed to be gone. I put on calming music while taking the class. Taking deep breaths while moving through simple arm movements helped me ease my mind. My energy was refocused on education, and I eventually gained the motivation to study again. I felt some warmth on my hands, and Alyse explained that the feeling was "Qi" (aka "Chi"), or energy that runs through the body. Once again, I felt much better than I had previously felt; the motivation I got lasted me all day. I reviewed many SAT math and reading concepts, and I read a portion of a novel.

Day 4: Mindfulness and Movement with Fred Sugerman
I woke up at 7:00 AM to get ready for a practice SAT test today. Stressfully, I cleaned my room and organized my notes. After approximately four hours, I was finished; my score was much higher than last time, so this past week of studying was a huge success. The motivation and relaxation I gained from the classes ultimately helped me gain focus. The WITI Wellbeing Center today offered a Mindfulness and Movement class. This class was a very slow-paced class that focused on breathing and the idea of taking a break-- or a "pause" in the day. The stillness and the tranquility of the class were what I enjoyed the most. Fred explained the power of tension affecting one's thoughts; this class helps people relieve tensions, allowing them to think more. After this, I went out to practice driving with my father, and he noticed how attentive I was.

Day 5: Energy Management with Alyse Hart
After getting groceries with my dad, I came back home and read some articles. As usual, I did SAT prep for several hours. Today's class was another Energy Management class with Alyse Hart. I could feel the energy coursing through my body; it felt really nice unwinding and unplugging. Quarantine had me feeling disconnected and almost "trapped" at home; these classes helped me regain focus and motivation.

Overall, I highly suggest taking these classes to keep your mind and body relaxed. This state of centeredness allowed me to make more mindful decisions throughout the week and put me in an overall happy mental state. I noticed an increase in attentiveness; I felt less anxious and stressed about the future. The short-but-sweet classes offered by the WITI Wellbeing Center are beneficial and perfect, easy stay-at-home activities to enjoy by yourself or with the family. Anna says, "If we can support our WITI community with self-care techniques and creating safe spaces to have difficult conversations, then we are helping our community create positive changes in their communities, jobs, and relationships."

The center offers classes 5 days a week and holds special events frequently. All of these classes are free to members and, unless otherwise indicated, are appropriate for all levels. All classes can be accessed through the WITI Wellbeing Center.

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