Art Lab yoga class encourages reflection, connection through exercise
A yoga "community connection" event was held at MSU Broad Art Lab on Tuesday, organized by Spartan Warrior Project with the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum as its community partner.
The yoga class was free, but donations were accepted in support of Spartan Warrior Project to continue providing classes and events to the community. Spartan Warrior Project is a Lansing-based non-profit organization founded in 2017 by Chris Martindale, after his experiences struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The organization holds yoga classes and community events across Lansing and Grand Rapids. Dean Jeffery, a certified yoga instructor from Grand Rapids, co-taught with Martindale at Tuesday's event.
The classes "introduce people to the practice so they can start exploring on their own ... diving deeper, and feeling and understanding what it means to them," Jeffery said. "It's going to be different between me and you and everybody else. We just want to hold a space that's welcoming, inclusive and supportive so that you know you are not alone.”
Both Jeffery and Martindale are Lululemon Michigan Ambassadors. The athletic apparel retailer plays the role of partner, giving money every year to support the project.
Jeffery is the ambassador for Grand Rapids, while Martindale is the one for Lansing. Tuesday was the first time the two taught a class together.
“When we met, I just had an idea — why don't we do cross-community stuff? Grand Rapids people can't come here, and Lansing people can't go there," Martindale said. "We are primarily based out of East Lansing, but Grand Rapids is likely the next region we are going to be in.”
It is the program's first time holding a yoga event at the Art Lab. Previous ones took place at the Broad Art Museum across the street.
According to Martindale, the mission of the project is to empower and build resilience at Michigan State University and the surrounding community through yoga and meditation. The events are intended to bring communities together and find connections within yourself and with other attendees.
“I feel connected with other people because a lot of times when you go to practice yoga somewhere, there is a financial barrier for a lot of people,” said Mallory Draisma, who graduated from MSU in December. “The Art Lab is super nice and really clean so it's not like anything's stuck in your mind. It's like a blank slate.”
This was Draisma's second time attending a yoga event through the program.
Social work senior Kaylee Nellett, who took the class a second time as well, said she was glad someone would teach free yoga classes.
“I think a lot of people come when they aren't really comfortable with it, so I am thankful that people are able to be vulnerable while we're practicing,” Nellett said.
Kars Petersen, a Lansing resident who took part this yoga event the first time, said he is relatively new to yoga classes and enjoyed his experience.
"The class is well-run," Petersen said. "They did a really good job guiding you through everything without pushing to make it seem like you have to do it this way or you have to do it that way.
"It was very relaxed, which is how I feel yoga should be,” he said.