Wellness Center focuses on teacher and staff meditations on Thursdays

November 14, 2022 — by Kathy Wang
Photo by Kathy Wang
The Wellness Center’s lead therapist uses her past experience with meditation and breathwork to help guide staff members through weekly relaxing meditation workshops. 

On recent Thursdays in the wellness center, staff members closed their eyes as lead therapist Shobha Vaidyanathan instructed them through deep, relaxing meditations. The sessions are breathwork and meditation workshops for teachers and administrators, also known as Thoughtful Thursdays.

“We do a lot for the students here in the school, and I was thinking, ‘why not do something for my co-workers who also need this [de-stressing environment]?’” Vaidyanathan said. 

Vaidyanathan hopes that Thoughtful Thursdays, which are limited to staff members, will serve as a place where participants can reflect on themselves and connect with their co-workers.  


Thoughtful Thursday leader shares her experience with meditation

Due to overwhelming stress and a busy personal life, Vaidyanathan started meditating in 2010 at The Art of Living Foundation, a worldwide volunteer-based organization that works on humanitarian projects and hosts breathwork workshops led by trained volunteers.

“I was always running all over the place, balancing too many things, and needed something that would give me some grounding,” Vaidyanthan said. “I spoke to an acquaintance and they said, ‘try guided meditation; it’s fantastic.’ I tried it out, and it was great.”

Her experience attending the guided meditation workshops inspired Vaidyanthan to start Thoughtful Thursdays at the school.

“Meditation and breathwork made a huge difference in my life,” Vaidyanthan said. “I’m more centered, calm and energetic. I want to share that with the staff here.”

After completing 1,000 hours of training for meditation and breathwork at the Art of Living Foundation, Vaidyanathan now acts as a certified volunteer trainer at the foundation.

“My learning as both a course participant as well as a volunteer at the Art of Living Foundation has taught me to be calm and centered, and my breathwork practice gives me positive energy — which I hope to share with others,” Vaidyanathan said.


Rundown of a typical Thoughtful Thursday session

Each Thoughtful Thursday session begins with a focus on the body, then the breath and finally the mind. 

To focus on the body, teachers engage in light yoga to relieve tension and restlessness that is bottled up throughout the day. The level of difficulty of the yoga is based on people’s physical needs and comfort level.

After finishing yoga, Vaidyanthan switches to breathwork. One effective technique Vaidyanathan incorporates in the workshops is a combination of neck rotations and interval breathing. It consists of breathing in as you rotate your neck back, and exhaling as you rotate your neck forward. 

“There will be some tightness invariably [around the neck],” Vaidyanthan said. “We are so used to being on computers or focusing we don’t realize that our bodies are getting stressed.”

Following the breathing exercises, staff members are seated on chairs or yoga mats, where Vaidyanathan leads them through a guided meditation.

Finally, after guiding them back from the meditation, Vaidyanthan ends the workshop by conducting a reflection session where everyone shares what worked and what didn’t.

“I usually never hear [reflections on what didn’t work out] because they are so relaxed by that time,” Vaidyanthan said. “This meditation is so light, so easy, it’s almost effortless. It’s just meant to give some additional support to our staff.”

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