Right before the first class of Yogathon started, several students sat on their mats, wearing pink tank tops that said, “Inhale, Exhale.” The sound of relaxing music signaled to the 25 participants that the class was starting and Angela Di Francesco, the first instructor, made her way to the front of the room.
For the next hour, she guided the group through yoga poses and walked around the room, weaving through the mats. She moved through the stretches in a rhythmic and repetitive way, stopping wherever she was in the room to demonstrate the more difficult moves. When the class ended, as everyone sat cross-legged with their hands pressed together in front of their chests, Di Francesco said, “The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.”
The Ithaca College Physical Therapy Student Association and the Ithaca College Nutrition Club hosted the third annual Yogathon from 4-8:30 p.m. April 2 in Emerson Suites. The event consisted of four hour-long yoga sessions, each taught by a different instructor. Tickets to participate cost $5 during the pre-sale and $8 at the event. The money raised through the participation fee, raffling and the selling of tank tops goes toward the ICPTSA’s funding and any surplus funds are donated to local organizations selected by the club’s Civic Engagement Committee.
Di Francesco, a sixth-year physical therapy student and chair of the Civic Engagement Committee, said Yogathon is meant to be an affordable, fun way to learn about several styles of yoga and get involved in the community.
Di Francesco said she joined the committee three years ago during its formation and that the first Yogathon was held in April 2016. She said that during the committee’s first year, after working with organizations and businesses in Ithaca, it decided to organize an event it could offer back to the community.
“I think we wanted to create an event ourselves and not only reach out to communities but also create something the community can come to,” Di Francesco said.
Di Francesco said as chair of the committee, she is not always the point person for every event. She is the point person for Yogathon and is also an instructor at the event.
“As the point person, basically I just designate roles,” she said.
The Civic Engagement Committee spends approximately four months, from January to April, planning Yogathon. Di Francesco said the event requires a long process of organizing since Emerson Suites has to be reserved, flyers and advertising are required, food vendors have to be arranged and so on.
The main vendor and co-host is the IC Nutrition Club, which Di Francesco said has been working at Yogathon since the first year. Junior Michele Amado, president of IC Nutrition Club, said they provide healthy snacks for the participants to enjoy during the event. Amado said this year they decided to make energy bites, which are made of oats, peanut butter or sunflower butter, chocolate chips, flax seeds and honey or vanilla. They also made hummus and smoothies.
Di Francesco said that the first year of Yogathon was held in the Fitness Center, which the ICPTSA found was too noisy and crowded. She said this is why the event was moved to Emerson Suites last year.
“For a lot of us, making an event was brand new,” Di Francesco said.
She said the first year they had 75 to 100 participants and the second year there were 100 to 115 participants. This year, there were just over 100 participants.
Freshman Kemi Odumosu attended the event, which she said she found out about when she saw a flyer in the Fitness Center. Odumosu said she does not have a great deal of yoga experience, but that she was excited to participate in Yogathon and learn more about it.
“I kind of like the idea of doing yoga with other people, like as a group event,” she said.
Freshman Haley Nathan said she came to Yogathon because she enjoys yoga but does not usually have the time to go. She said it was the perfect way to be able to unwind after a stressful day.
Di Francesco said before Yogathon, that she hoped each participant would get something different out of it. She said she hoped people without much yoga experience would enjoy trying it out and experiencing different styles. She also said she hoped people who have more experience would enjoy coming together to practice yoga.
“We do want people to learn about yoga and to get excited about yoga, but we also want people to just come and be with their Ithaca school community and have a good time,” Di Francesco said.