Laurielle Prema is a French professor by day, and a yoga instructor from 6 - 7 p.m. on Mondays.
Yoga in the Plaza is a free yoga session, led by Prema, taking place outside the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts every Monday, and is open to any level of yoga experience.
As people began arriving with their matts and blocks, the class started taking its form. Prema connected to a microphone and the big screen behind her.
Wayne Bovenschen, associate professor of percussion at OSU, set up with a djembe to play relaxing percussive pieces complementing the experience for the students. To begin the session, Prema asked, “what is it that you want to accomplish out of this next hour?”
Molly Johnson, a sophomore psychology major, attended her second session on Monday. She said the class is uplifting and rewarding for her.
“I feel better about myself, for actually coming and doing it,” Johnson said.
Sierra McCombs, a freshman finance major also attended the session with Johnson. Johnson and McComb said other people should try yoga and that the class had helped improve their mental and physical state.
As the sunset, Prema thanked her students for coming and attending the session.
“Thank you for coming and doing something good for yourself, so that you can in turn do something good for the world,” Prema said.
Prema said she began her journey to becoming a yoga instructor after going through a stressful period in her life, and her doctor advised her against lifting weights and running.
Prema said this was tough for her because of her active lifestyle, so she began doing yoga at the Colvin Center. After about a year, she decided to pursue yoga as more than a hobby. She did her nine-month, 200 hours instructor training course.
The first yoga course Prema did for OSU was in June 2020. She and a close friend had thrown out the idea of a yoga class with live music to Mark Blakeman, the executive director of the McKnight center right before the pandemic began.
Originally, the course was virtual, broadcasted through OStateTV. It became in-person as the pandemic had calmed down this year.
“People like to be around other people,” Prema said. “They like to go and doan activity. It’s a different experience to be outside in a beautiful place with live music than it is to just hear it over facebook.”
Bovenschen said he has learned Prema’s patterns, and has adjusted his playing to fit the session over time.
Since Bovenschen began his career at OSU 35 years ago, he said has seen a positive change on campus.
“I’m sitting out here amazed at the beautiful building (the McKnight Center), and all the stuff we’re able to do for the community that we were never able to do before,” Bovenschen said.
Prema ended the session by telling her students to think of the purpose for coming out and what it was they were trying to accomplish in that hour.
“Use your breath to focus on that one word that you chose,” Prema said.