When Mary Noakes arrived on campus as a freshman last year, she decided to participate in a workshop she said was life-changing.
After experiencing separation anxiety from her family and overwhelming stress during her first quarter at Ohio State, Noakes, now a second-year in human nutrition, heard about the Art of Living Club and a workshop called Yesplus.
The internationally-recognized workshop was developed by the Art of Living Foundation and is a five-day workshop that uses meditation, knowledge and service to promote mental awareness and health.
“I’m so passionate about this workshop because they teach you the kind of things they don’t teach you in school,” Noakes said. “We get a really great academic experience here, but no one teaches us how to manage our emotion and deal with everyday stress.”
The Ohio Union is hosting a Yesplus workshop Thursday through Monday. Offered in more than 150 countries, more than 300 million people have experienced the workshop that originated in India, said Dronveer Kaura, a fourth-year in mechanical engineering and vice president of the OSU Art of Living Club.
“It’s an interactive workshop that, to me, unfolds the secrets of life,” Kaura said. “It’s all for the mind and the idea is to improve your awareness about your mental health.”
The workshop was introduced to OSU for the first time about four years ago when Kaura’s brother, Dhruv Kaura, an OSU graduate, fell into depression and discovered the Yesplus workshop as an outlet through the Art of Living Foundation, Dronveer Kaura said.
Kaura said the Art of Living Club was founded on campus in 2008 and since then has aimed to help students replace feelings of anxiety, depression and stress with a sense of calm and clarity,
“My anxiety problems are worlds better than they were before,” Noakes said. “I’m comfortable with myself now and it has sparked that passion in me to spread mental health awareness to other students.”
The Art of Living Club hosts the workshop once every quarter at OSU and students can participate for a $100-125 fee depending on date of registration. Kaura said the fee goes to the Art of Living Foundation.
David Warnock, a fourth-year in sociology, said that the price is too steep for students.
“I know that the money goes to charity. But, if they want more college students to benefit from it, they need to make it more affordable.”
The cost of the program might seem steep to some, but Noakes said students cannot put a price on improving their mental health.
“I know a lot of students that relieve stress by going out and drinking and other activities that require a lot of money,” said Juan Mosquera, a fourth-year in marketing and member of the OSU Art of Living Club. “So if you think about it, it’s a good investment.”
Mosquera said students will participate in yoga, breathing exercises and a community service project that will help raise their energy during the workshop. A breathing technique, Sudarshan Kriya, is one of the main focuses of the workshop and is taught to relieve stress.
“A lot of times in our lives there can be stress that’s built up in our system from lack of sleep and emotional drama,” Mosquera said. “Focusing on the breath is such a powerful thing because if you think about it, we can go so long without food or water, but you can’t go more than a few minutes without breathing.”
Mosquera said his experience with Yesplus has helped him focus, make clear decisions and create a better society on campus.
Noakes said that last quarter, about 15 people participated in the Yesplus workshop. She said she hopes spreading awareness about mental health will encourage students to focus on improving themselves.
“I am finally at peace with myself,” Kaura said. “No experience can replace that.”