SU student introduces yoga class to relieve stress in a judgment-free zone


The scent of lemongrass and lavender seep from the humming diffuser. The fresh scent filters through your lungs as you deeply inhale — pause — and exhale the negative energy out of your system. The soothing ambiance in the room feels almost tangible, and the energy becomes in tune with the rhythm of your beating heart.

Shippensburg University junior Alaina Auell is on a mission to open the minds of her peers and offer a peaceful outlet to relieve stress by instructing her own yoga class on campus. 

Auell’s hopes to attract a broad range of students to her class known as Mindful Movement, in which she teaches yin yoga. Yin yoga is a non-aggressive, relaxing form of yoga that focuses more on deep-breathing practices and easy-to-follow stretches. 

Auell believes it is a beneficial way for members of the SU community to cope with the stress of their daily lives. 

She first began her own yoga experience when she was in high school. She initially became interested in the different stretches used for conditioning in her athletic practices. 

However, she quickly became accustomed to yoga’s natural healing capabilities and began using it as a way to cope with a stressful environment. 

“It was a nice little getaway,” she said. “I liked to use my body to escape the drama of my life. The great thing about yoga is that it gets as deep as you want it to, especially when you incorporate spirituality into it.”

Above all, Auell stressed the importance of building a connection between the mind and body. When the two aspects of a person are united, it allows the body to naturally heal itself. 

“Working with those aspects of ourselves let us understand ourselves more. By learning what is going on in our mind, we can actually help our body and gain power over the pain by paying attention to negative thoughts,” she said. 

Auell believes in healing people by guiding them to a mind-body connection without being invasive. She does this by incorporating deep breathing exercises that brings the room to a proper “Zen state.” She has noticed that these exercises visibly release anxiety and stress from her students’ bodies. 

Before all of her classes, she ensures that the space is a judgment-free zone and her students are safe to allow their deepest emotions to rise to the surface. She often encourages them to check in with themselves, place their hands over their hearts and feel their breath course through their body. 

While students focus on the inner parts of themselves, different parts of their body relax and become open, which can cause emotional breakthroughs, according to Auell. 

“It’s cool to look in people’s eyes and see how they transform from anxious, at first, to completely ‘zenned’ out,” she said. “To share that part of me with people brings me such contentment.”

While Auell is not a certified yoga instructor, she used her position working at the SU recreation center’s help desk and saw an open space to hold her classes. It is an initial way to get her foot in the door to pursue opening a holistic healing center in the future. 

Auell started her academic career at SU with an undecided major. She always knew she wanted to work to heal people, but was unsure about the financial gain it would bring. 

One day, however, she decided that money was not going to run her life, and quickly declared a major in psychology. Soon after, she knew exactly where her future was headed. 

She envisioned a business with a wide-spread number of holistic healing services, which members of the community could find in one building. The chase across the country for alternative medicine would be over, and Auell would build a community with her fellow practitioners and clientele. 

She found her purpose and passion. 

Ever since, Auell has been educating herself in different ways of healing and decided she needed a broad spectrum of knowledge from all sides of science. 

In addition to her psychology major, she declared a minor in exercise science to learn about western medicine to incorporate into her alternative medicinal practices. 

In the end, Auell’s goal is to open as many minds as she can and educate the community on how to become complete with self-love. 

“Questioning the norm is what I do. There is a whole different side with different options a lot of people are unaware of. I want people to know, it’s not hopeless out there — healing is possible,” she said. 

Auell encourages the SU community to give her class a try. She teaches Mindfulness Movement every Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. in the group fitness room in the ShipRec. 

You can email Auell at with questions. 

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