Student teaches spirituality, yoga in organization

Owlwakening meets once a week and promotes the practices as tools for self-development.

Miriam Schlafman, a junior human resources and management major, instructs senior media studies and production major Alesan Aboafahe on yoga poses in Charles Library on Feb. 20. CLAUDIA SALVATO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Last August, Miriam Shlafman went to La Casa Shambala, a registered yoga school in the Ko Pha-ngan District in Thailand, where she became a certified yoga teacher.

“I finally kind of was able to centralize my knowledge in a codified language, and that really helped me to develop further, refine my knowledge and understand better,” said Shlafman, a junior human resource management major. 

Shlafman returned to Temple University wanting to share her knowledge about spirituality and self-development with other students and created the student organization Owlwakening in Fall 2019. In the organization, she leads a 16-week course that guides and helps students find a purpose and have a better understanding of themselves.

“College is a time period when there are so many options and a lot of exciting new opportunities, and it is really easy to get lost,” Shlafman said. “So, I want to help people find their voices and find themselves, and to not think there is something that society has put on them, but to find something that they are on the inside and bring that out and let that shine through them.” 

In the organization’s first semester Shlafman met one-on-one with students to talk about spirituality and self-development. 

This semester, Owlwakening is meeting in small groups. They focus on yoga and also do activities to explore art forms and complete writing prompts. 

Kourtney Clark, the university’s fitness coordinator, hopes that having a student-led yoga classes may inspire others.

“[Yoga] has a lot of health benefits, improving flexibility and helping improve your longevity and your health as an individual,” Clark said. “Also, I think for students it is important to do yoga because it can be a stress reliever and they can focus on mindfulness.” 

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of physical exercise five days a week. It can be a moderate or vigorous activity, and yoga is perfect because it is a moderate level of physical activity but it also has great flexibility component, Clark said.

Yoga helps with stress management, mental and emotional health, promoting healthy habits, sleep and balance, according to National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Because students are focused on their careers, social life and money, college is an intense time period, helping students find a balance in life is one of her goals, Shlafman said.

“A lot of our students have a great need for finding ways to practice, to access their spirituality and define to calm down and listen to their inner self and I think the way that the organization is set up for the participants to engage in these processes is very practical and very effective,” said Merian Soto, a dance professor and the organization’s advisor.  

Julia Rudy, a junior Italian major and member of Owlwakening, said yoga has helped her get in touch with her body and feelings. As a transfer student, the club has been beneficial to her, she added. 

“It helps me feel better when I am focusing on working on myself, and I can do that through this club,” Rudy said. “It has been a really nice transition for a personal reason and I feel it is a very welcoming community.”

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