Mercyhurst staff member introduces yoga to campus

As a Mercyhurst College staff member for more than 15 years, Betty Amatangelo has struggled to find a position in which she can help students in a way not covered by other college organizations, such as tutoring and Campus Ministry.

“I’ve always had a ministry bone in my body,” Amatangelo said.

Amantangelo remembers that a senior staff member once asked her, “What do you have to offer that no one else has?” At the time, Amatangelo did not have an answer. Now she does, and that answer is yoga.

Amantangelo gives yoga classes every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Rec Center free of charge. Besides the obvious physical benefits of yoga, Amatangelo explained that the class she now instructs provides students with a chance to unwind and deal with issues in their lives.

“Yoga is a nice break from my hectic schedule as a student,” junior Taleisha Johnson said. “It’s a challenge for my body, and I feel really good.”

Each class consists of a short discussion, which helps students emotionally and spiritually; asana, or the movement portion of the class; and a motivational reading, which Amatangelo reads while students do a relaxation exercise.

Johnson is not alone in her praises of the weekly class.

“It’s relaxing and inspirational,” freshman Jenna Dascanio said, using two words that repeatedly cropped up in other students’ responses as well.

Instructor Betty Amatangelo said it simply: “The kids love it.”

In every class of the past four weeks, 40 to 60 students have participated as well as five to seven faculty, although Amatangelo hopes more faculty will show interest in the future.

While the class has met with great success, Amatangelo hopes to offer a second class every week at another location.

“There are a lot of students who would like a class in the dorms, and I’d be willing to do a class one night a week at the dorm for free,” Amatangelo said.

She explained that the common area of Baldwin would be ideal as the majority of her students are female.

“We’re making this [class] a weekly thing,” freshman Kaitln Wrona said.

Two major factors play into Amatangelo’s offer.

“Some students are intimidated by the rec center,” she said. “There are people who have always wanted to try yoga but are too self-conscious in this setting.”

In addition, scheduling prevents some students and faculty from attending the class. Someone with a Thursday night class could not make it to class, but two classes a week might solve that problem, provided that the second class does not take place on Tuesday.

Students widely encourage the idea of a second yoga class and hope the administration will soon approve and implement the plan.