ELMHURST – For the last six years, Elmhurst College professor Barbara Kahovec has taught yoga and pilates classes to students as a part of the kinesiology department curriculum.
In that time, Kahovec turned to textbooks, demonstrations, assignments and group projects to show her students how important yoga and pilates are to the mind, body and spirit. However, she felt there still was something missing from her lesson plans, and she was unable to fully reach her students.
So, she set out to write her own textbook, "Yoga for the Student Body," a personal, academic and informative testament to her favorite fitness activity.
Kahovec said her inspiration came from reevaluating her teaching methods and taking a closer look at a textbook she had used in previous semesters. She noted the book was a "good theoretical book" because it provided quality information on the human body's spine, and "the kids needed" to understand the physical benefits of yoga poses, stretches and techniques in that respect.
"But it was just really boring for them," Kahovec added. "They could not really get into it. It was really written for people in their 30s and 40s."
Kahovec said what she needed was a book that "spoke to college students," and she began by putting "stuff together that would appeal to them" like "good articles on the spine, core strength and yoga for stress release."
Another aspect she drew from is her experience in teaching yoga to clients between the ages of 50 to 70 years old. All of whom, she said, had different types of careers that contributed to their physical ailments.
"I realized from working with them that their patterns of dysfunction have been with them for so many years, and in fact, several decades," Kahovec said, noting it took them a while to undo those patterns and see a shift toward a healthier direction.
She added the goal of her new book is to "take everything (she) was learning from one end and start to instill these things into younger people."
One unique feature "Yoga for the Student Body" has is that each chapter ends with a personal story from Kahovec's former students who share how yoga has helped them handle physical, emotional and mental stressors they encounter on a daily basis.
That reflection, along with her emphasis on meditation, is the key to finding one's inner peace, Kahovec said.
For Gina Cessario, 21, that is a valuable lesson she learned from taking Kahovec's class and carried with her as she began the college's first yoga club.
Cessario said yoga provides an opportunity for students to "take a step back" from school, work and relationships, and "have time for ourselves."
Kahovec said as an instructor, she takes time to look back at the different types of students she encounters in her class and how they absorb the materials she provides for them. Her job is to "guide them into recognizing what works for them," whether that includes physical activities to help them with their posture or deep-breathing exercises, she said.
At the heart of her book and class, Kahovec leaves students with one question that leads to a path of self-discovery: "Just how do you learn, and how can you become a more effective learner?"
To learn about "Yoga for the Student Body," visit barbshealthcorner.webs.com. A booksigning will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 16 at Cafe Amano, 116 Schiller St., Elmhurst.