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Richland College Counselor Gives Back and Offers Free Yoga Sessions to Campus Community

Julie Hanson practices yoga with several other people.Richland College personal counselor Julie Hanson first began practicing yoga after her father passed away when she was 27-years-old.

“I was struggling with grief,” Hanson said. “I heard yoga could help, and the rest is history.”

For the past four years, Hanson has been giving back the gift of yoga to the Richland College campus community by offering free, weekly yoga sessions to students, faculty and staff members to help manage their stress.

“People need it,” said Hanson. “Talking about what causes stress is important, but putting talk into action takes it to another level. Yoga is an efficient way to reduce stress and is accessible for most people. Participants often tell me they’ve never felt as relaxed as they do at the end of a class.”

Each week, Hanson’s yoga participants come to her sessions to feel more relaxed and open, learning new breathing techniques and a variety of yoga poses that can be done anywhere. The hour-long sessions offer a chance for members of the campus community to give their brains and bodies a break. Hanson says anyone can do yoga—all the poses can be modified, even for people who can’t get on the floor. She often tells attendees that all they have to do is breathe a little more than what it takes to stay alive to succeed in yoga.

“Julie manages to transform a conference room into a soothing and relaxing environment just by the sound of her voice and her kind demeanor,” said Richland College graphic artist and multimedia adjunct instructor Jennifer Curtiss. “You walk in with a stressed back and shoulders, and you walk out serene with a light spring in your step, feeling as if some weight has been lifted in just an hour.”

Hanson also benefits from these sessions. “It makes me happy to help others, especially when the results are so immediate,” she said. “I’m thrilled to have a job that allows me to share my skills to improve lives.”

Hanson received her yoga teacher certification just after 9/11. “I was living in New York at the time and used yoga as a way to create a buffer zone between me and the horror that surrounded me,” Hanson said. “Yoga is emotional first aid, but it’s also a way of life.”

Continuously committed to its college mission of “teaching, learning and community building,” this holiday season, Richland College is showcasing some of the amazing ways Richland College faculty, students and staff are giving back to the community through volunteering with local nonprofits or helping others who might need a hand. We look forward to sharing these stories with you.