With the gentle chime of a meditation bowl and the encouragement to practice some mindful meditation, PCC Kinesiologist and yoga instructor Patty Bellali began her first virtual grounding and calming yoga sequence. She calmly led her audience from pose to pose—from mountain to down dog, through every inhale and exhale. She aims to connect new to advanced yogis to their beginner’s lens.
The four-part yoga series commenced on Apr. 8 and was advertised by the PCC Health and Wellness department as a part of their Wellness Wednesdays. Every week, a new video has been published on Bellali’s YouTube channel. The idea sprouted from Jason Robinson, director of professional development, as a way to help the mental health of students stuck in quarantine.
“Everybody has their own story, and we can’t take away those stresses from people,” said Robinson. “But maybe we could provide access to resources and tools to help people feel better connected and supported in some way.”
Later it was implemented by Dyan Miller, kinesiology health and wellness dean. With Bellali as the host, PCC’s virtual yoga was created. Amid the uncertainty of quarantine, the three wanted to be able to provide students with a way to be active as well as focus on their emotional states.
“If you move your body and you’re being physically active, that releases certain hormones and chemicals in your brain that calm and ground you, but also help bring you into more focus,” said Bellali. “The mind body connection is amazing.”
Bellali’s virtual session is a class that someone of any skill level can participate in. Bellali referenced having a “beginner’s lense” in her first yoga video, which is the practice of focusing on correct alignment, on breathing and on the thoughts that come up while moving through beginner and intermediate poses.
Bellali explained that yoga provides people with the opportunity to explore their feelings and mind and work towards bettering oneself, as well as helping their physical self. Many people are facing increased anxiety and depression and Bellali mentioned that if someone can name and label an emotion, they are better equipped to handle it and their body will start to reduce anxiety.
“Yoga is about self acceptance and self love, not so much an attainment or looking to reach a certain pose,” said Bellali. “It’s more about meeting yourself where you are and understanding where that is. It’s a journey. The journey is the destination.”
In Bellali’s contemplative and spiritual lessons, she likes to teach and emphasize the mantra “you are enough” to help students enjoy their journey. This mindset carries through her virtual lessons and offers potential help to struggling students.
The struggles of quarantine and online classes affect students in a multitude of ways. The takeaway of the creation of PCC’s Virtual Yoga is to encourage students to focus on self care and offer some help with it.
“I think about our student athletes,” said Miller. “In my opinion remote learning is harder… I hope that they are finding some time to take care of themselves.”
Mediation is another practice that Bellali recommends to help students with their mental health. She hopes students can learn to become centered and calm. Bellali recalled a student in her class saying that they suck at mediation.
“I thought that was so sweet,” said Bellali. “I said, ‘You know what? It’s great that you mention that, because if we’re judging, then I suck and a lot of people suck at meditation.’ It’s not about being great. It’s about practicing.”
While the PCC Health and Wellness department has provided an option for yoga and meditative ways to help get through and stay active during the quarantine, these are not the only things they recommend. Their overall goal is to remind people to stay healthy.
“There is no perfect way to handle this [quarantine],” said Bellali. “I encourage people to find something that centers them and grounds them. It could be yoga, could be going for a run, could be knitting, could be anything.”
Her passion and extensive knowledge of yoga and kinesiology make the series more engaging and helpful. Her dedication is evident from her current reading collection that includes “Meditations on a Dew Drop” by Tias Little, “Living the Sutras” by Kelly DiNardo and much more. Bellali also recites quotes from her readings at the end of each session.
“[Patty’s] so creative, willing and positive,” said Miller. “And that’s what I thought people needed.”
Bellali has fun teaching all her classes and helping students. PCC has an array of yoga instructors during regular campus activity and each has a unique way of teaching and has much to offer students.
According to Bellali, PCC’s yoga program is “unique because you can find all types of personalities within PCC.”
Some instructors have more flow or vinyasa types of classes, which give more of a vigorous, strength building workout. Others focus more on alignment and meditation, like herself.
“My hope is that students, faculty and staff find their way to yoga and maybe to a yoga class at PCC once we’re back on campus,” said Miller. “I have some really amazing yoga teachers and Patty is one of them.”