UM Yoga Day raises awareness surrounding mental wellness

The Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center hosted over 400 people for University of Miami Yoga Day on Saturday, Nov. 16. The free all-day festival united the community through yoga classes, guided meditations, scavenger hunts and panel discussions to highlight the importance of mental wellness practices.

“We wanted to get everyone together and put them in a place where they can acquire skills and learn about yoga, so when they graduate it might change their life in a very real and tangible way,” said Eden Goldman, director of College Yoga Day and founder of Meditating Mascots, a company that sells plush dolls of college mascots sitting in meditation poses.

Goldman founded the nonprofit College Yoga Day in response to the tragic Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018.

“That was my high school,” Golden said. “I was in the class of 1998. About a month after the shooting, I was thinking ‘what can we do to help the students that are going through these challenging times’? Meditating Mascots is a way to identify that you’re a part of something bigger than just you. You’re part of this huge community.

The first College Yoga Day was a closed university event at the University of Southern California. At the University of Miami, Goldman thought it was important to make the event public.

“Right now suicide rates are increasing and those kinds of things don’t need to happen,” said Goldman. “That’s why we wanted to open the event up to the public, to bring the community together to show people that they are not alone and give them tools that can literally change their lives.”

After looking for more ways to get involved with Miami’s yoga community, Lexi Raduenz, a 22-year-old student from Miami Dade College, said she was excited when she heard that the event was open to the public.

“I really just want to meet new people and connect with like-minded individuals,” Raduenz said.”I don’t want to go to these things alone.”

The event also included local retailers, such as Good Vibes and Kathenna Body Art, which sell jewelry, stones and Tibetan bowls that are said to help with mindfulness practices.

Good Vibes and Kathenna Body Art, local retailers that sell jewelry, stones and Tibetan bowls to help with mindfulness practices, also attended the event.

“I don’t believe these objects necessarily have special powers,” said Eric Hernandez from Good Vibes. “We attach meaning to the objects and then it brings awareness to that area in our lives.”

Yoga Day ended with an acoustic Johan Danno concert at the outdoor main stage where festival-goers were encouraged to bring food and blankets to create a welcoming space for people to connect.

“What we want to do is just show up for people in a way that lets them know that they’re cared for and that people around them support them and their needs,” Goldman said.

In addition to UM, College Yoga Day will visit USC and the University of California Los Angeles this year. Next year, the nonprofit hopes to expand and reach 10 to 15 campuses around the nation.