By J1 Reporter Kenzie Darrow
Marian’s Go Yogi Program has existed for almost three years. Most students said they they liked the program or at least didn’t mind it. However, 100 percent of the girls said that they felt they knew very little about the background of the program. Although they almost all seemed to remember, “at least you’re breathing” from Mindful Moments.
“While I don’t know much about what it actually does or is, I know many people like the program,” junior Josie Golka said. “Personally, it doesn’t help me,” Golka said.
“I think it is awesome in theory. I really think we all need to take a moment and find calmness,” French teacher Mrs. Janet Tuttle said. “The reality is that sometimes when we were doing it every day, it lost some of its effectiveness for me, and some days felt like an additional stress just to do it.”
Both Golka and Tuttle agreed that the program can be very helpful at times.
So, what is the Go Yogi Program? GoYogi is a Nebraska-based, 501(c)(4) non-profit dedicated to advocating for mental health education and raising awareness for mental health issues in youth. Their number one goal is to work with educational institutions to make student mental health a priority. They also aim to provide students with access to mental health professionals.
Go Yogi was started by 2020 Marian graduate Shruthi Kumar and promoted by one of Marian’s assistant principals, Mrs. Jennifer Christen. Kumar is currently a freshman at Harvard University. She has won many awards in recent years, such as being a 2018 World Championships of Yoga Sports Finalist, winning a National Speech and Debate Association Academic All-American, being a finalist in the 2019 National Individual Tournament of Champions, and many more. In addition, Kumar is no stranger to inventing useful programs. During her freshman year at Marian, Kumar won a special award from the AFCEA for her project on reducing roadkill, called Steer Clear. While Kumar was at Marian, the knowledge that she had started Go Yogi was not known to the student body. Kumar bravely decided to remain anonymous until she was an official Marian alumna so that she could actively participate in the program without feeling any student bias.
The program began after Kumar brought the idea to Christen. Kumar was inspired after her “13-year-old cousin was diagnosed with depression, and talk of the global mental health epidemic became all too real for me,” Kumar said. Wanting to help her cousin and the millions of teens who suffer from mental health, Kumar researched endlessly for alternatives to brochures promoting expensive therapists and antidepressants that just were not good enough.
To create a possible solution for her cousin and many others, “I used my experiences with mindfulness and the existing mindfulness research to construct audio lessons that teach breathing techniques and focus drills that can be tangible resources and accessible to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds,” Kumar said. Overall, Kumar “wanted to make proactive mental health resources available to all populations, especially disadvantaged communities that don’t have resources to access expensive therapy or medication.”
The program’s first time in action at Marian was in the fall of 2018. Due to some now resolved firewall issues, the program was not able to be immediately started at the beginning of the 2020-2021 year. Nevertheless many students and faculty, including Christen, still have high hopes the program will still happen this semester.
While many students feel as if the Go Yogi Program or Mindful Moments are a great way for them to start their day, some students feel that it is unsuccessful and does not help them. For those who do feel that the Mindful Moments are not helpful for them or cannot focus during the meditations, Kumar says “an important thing to understand about GoYogi is that it is not built to immediately solve mental health problems or struggles…Rather, it helps integrate breathing techniques and mindfulness practices into your daily life so that when the time comes that you may be struggling with mental health, you know how to help yourself by calming down and refocusing yourself.”
The Go Yogi Program works by mindfulness-based mental health techniques; such as breathing techniques and focus/attentional exercises. It is not only used by establishments in Nebraska, but also in India.