Division of Performing Arts offers new yoga class

Students of all skill levels are encouraged to participate in the course


Rachel Leandri, Co-Managing Editor

Wilkes University’s Department of the Performing Arts has enhanced its program with a new addition this spring semester. Yoga is no longer just occasionally offered on the greenway or during club hours, but rather is now a three credit class.

Instructed by Catherine Schaeffer, the class takes place every Tuesday and Thursday morning in the first-floor dance studio of the Dorothy Dixon Darte Center. Schaeffer, certified yoga instructor for 10 years, has worked as a professional dancer in cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and New York City.

After 14 years of teaching both yoga and dance at Valdosta State University in Georgia, Schaeffer moved back to Northeastern Pennsylvania and quickly became interested in the theater and dance programs at Wilkes.

She presented the idea to the Chair of the University’s Performing Arts, Dr. Steven Thomas, and shortly after, DAN298 was added to the curriculum.

I wasn’t sure what the interest would be since we had not previously offered a class on this topic,” Dr. Thomas said. “Having yoga as a class diversifies our division’s offerings, and the significant student interest in the class shows that there is certainly a demand for it.”

An active member of the University’s dance program, Senior Vanessa Serano said Schaeffer is a perfect fit for the job.

“She works very well balancing both beginners and advanced students at the same time. She creates a comfortable environment for everyone in the class.”

Schaeffer said that yoga is so much more than just bending oneself into a pretzel, but rather an integration of body, mind and spirit that benefits people’s health on all levels.   

Though Schaeffer’s original intention was to work strictly with music, dance and theater students, she is overwhelmed by the positive responses she has received thus far.

“As the class is open to any student, the room is filled with students from all majors,” Schaeffer explained. “I added as many extras as I could, but had to turn students away because there was simply no room left in the studio. It’s just amazing.”

With students on all different levels of yoga experience and training, each has his or her personal motives and goals behind registering for this class. One such student is senior Ryan Dailey, who chose to take this class to remain flexible now that he has concluded his college football career.

Dailey said he wished this course was offered in previous years to help with football.

“I highly recommend Wilkes athletes to take DAN298 in the future to loosen their bodies and to free their minds,” he stated. “I feel like a new man every time the class ends.”

Schaeffer hopes this yoga class is the first step in making an impact while sharing her expertise with the Wilkes community.

“I love teaching – it’s a two-way street,” Schaeffer shared. “I learn from my students and become excited when I see people grow, as I hope to be growing always.”