SPC partnered with Kappa Epsilon hosted a virtual event on April 7 to provide students with an opportunity to learn about stress management and to emphasize the importance of taking care of a person’s mental health. Goli Gabbay hosted the event where she used her experience in yoga, mindfulness, and meditation, as well as her 22 years of experience in teaching and clinical, to teach attendees about their stress through her “From Stress to Serenity” program. Gabbay taught different yoga poses and meditation techniques to students that will help relax them as well as relieve stress. Gabbay used Zoom to present the program to students all the way from Los Angeles, California. She welcomed students as they signed on, asking them to grab a pillow and a blanket and to clear a space large enough to lay down in.
Once everyone had settled in, Gabbay asked each student if they’d be interested in learning about the science side of stress to get everyone’s opinion. Most students were interested in learning this side, prompting Gabbay to present a brief PowerPoint on what stress is, how it is caused, and how it affects the body. She additionally introduced how the yoga and meditation techniques used in her program can help an individual with their stress. Before the main part of the program, Gabbay asked all attendees a set of questions, about how often they feel stress, why they feel stressed, where they feel stress in their body, and how the stress makes their body feel. These questions helped Gabbay adjust the program to personalize it for the audience’s needs.
The session started with deep breathing exercises, where attendees were told to use their breathing as a way to make space because stress and tension take away space. By breathing and stretching the whole body, we would be creating space and taking away tension in our mind, body, and emotions. Gabbay walked us through several stretches to help stretch our neck, back, hips, and chest. One stretch that she focused on was the bridge yoga pose. Gabbay said that mental illnesses like depression and anxiety tend to make us close in on ourselves, often affecting our chests and stomachs. The bridge yoga pose helps to open up the chest and stomach, which Gabbay said will help with depression and anxiety. The last exercise we did was a full-body mindfulness technique. Every individual laid on the ground with their palms by their hips facing up. With their eyes closed and focusing on their breathing, Gabbay had attendees focus their breathing in different areas, starting from the toes up to the top of the head, to create one final feeling of space throughout the body.
The “From Stress to Serenity” program really helped me, personally. I was going into the event super stressed about trying to balance taking care of my physical health, mental health, school, social life, all of that fun stuff. After the event, my head felt really clear, my body wasn’t holding near as much tension as I had been before the event, and I could breathe so deeply. I’ve also had back problems since the seventh grade, where I feel pains through my back to my hip to my legs, but my back hurt much less than it normally does once the program had ended. Some of the yoga poses were difficult for me to do normally, so I appreciated it when Gabbay gave easier versions of some poses that I had difficulty with.
A second component that I really liked about the event is how fun and personable Gabbay was to each student. She made sure to get each student’s opinion to get everyone to be engaged throughout the program. She even personalized the session for the group, using the questions we answered at the beginning to determine what stretches and yoga poses we would do during the session. She also tried new exercises with us that she hadn’t done with other groups. It also didn’t feel like she was the host of the event, it felt like it was just a group of people who were coming together to relax and do yoga and meditation together. She additionally gave us her email and her Instagram handle in case anyone has any questions for her.
I think bringing Goli Gabbay back to campus would be beneficial for students. Going through COVID-19 has been a hard time for all of us but I think it’ll be just as stressful trying to transition back to a state like before COVID-19. It’ll be helpful to have this “From Stress to Serenity” program during that transition back to normal.