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Enjoying yoga instruction from the Zoom next door

The ways that students, faculty and staff at Western Carolina University are finding to keep the campus community connected during the COVID-19 pandemic are seemingly endless.

Take yoga, for example.

"Since my first-year students had two exams this week, I thought yoga would be a good way to unwind," said Ashley Hyatt, WCU assistant professor of physical therapy. "I had seen other people post things about doing virtual workouts and thought it would be a good idea for us."

So she made arrangements, found a volunteer to lead a class and scheduled a session in the increasingly familiar online platform, Zoom.

"It was awesome. I think about 30 people were there, three being faculty," Hyatt said. "I just think the group virtual workouts are a great way for students and faculty to see one another and feel like we are in this together."

Hyatt said more yoga is planned, as well as some cardio and weight-strengthening classes for College of Health and Human Sciences folks.

Her colleague Chad Hallyburton, an assistant professor in WCU's environmental health sciences program, is a yoga instructor and has established a weekly schedule for free yoga sessions via Facebook Live.

"These classes are open to everyone and I've had folks from as far away as Michigan join in," he said. "People can access them through the Facebook page 'Centering Yoga LLC, with Chad Hallyburton'."

Hallyburton added that a yoga mat is helpful, but all anyone needs beyond internet access is a space on the floor and comfortable  clothes.

At its core, WCU's College of Health and Human Sciences is about human connections, health and wellness and caring, said Doug Keskula, professor and dean of the college.

"I am so impressed and grateful for the creative ways our faculty, students and staff are finding to maintain, even strengthen, our sense of community during these challenging times," Keskula said. "It is critical for us all to maintain healthy lifestyles as we adjust to the changes in our world. We never want members of our WCU community to feel isolated or alone."

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