Contemplative Practices

Within the health & wellness offerings at COA, we strive to create an atmosphere and offer practices that encourage and nurture a student's authenticity, while they search for meaning and purpose in their own existence and experience.

Through yoga, meditation and other contemplative practices, students have an opportunity to develop greater self reflection; to make connections between concern for our social/natural communities and care of the soul; to explore their personal challenges; to balance their inner needs with the rest of the world; and to deepen trust in their own inherent worth and resiliency.

Fall 2014 SCHEDULE

The Conscious Life: Engaging the Big Questions
with Lauren Rupp, Nick Jenei & Dennis Kiley

Mondays, 4:00-5:30pm, Meeting Off-Campus at Pleasant Street Pilates Studio
The particulars of our lives may be different, but we all share the same experience of navigating the human journey and engaging life's big questions. Who am I? What is my relationship with the world? What is meaningful to me? Whether we are students or teachers, youthful or elderly, share the same values and goals or not, we are all united by the human experience. At times, life is paradoxical. Our human journey can feel isolating or connected; there can be experiences of flow and struggle, clarity and uncertainty, and questions and decisions for which there are no right answers. By exploring our commonalities, learning from our differences, and tapping into our collective human wisdom, we begin to embody the conscious life.

This group is for anyone interested in exploring how to live awake and aware in a nuanced and dynamic world. Each weekly group will have an opportunity for reflection and contemplation, as well as experiential exercises and consideration of how to integrate this wisdom into our lives. The focus of the group is not just philosophical inquiry into life's deeper topics, but how to experience and live these insights. Facilitated by Lauren Rupp and Nick Jenei from Student Life and Dennis Kiley, a counselor and yoga teacher at the college, this group will explore a different subject each week through discussions, dyads, creativity, movement and contemplation. During the weekend of October 19th, all will be welcome to attend a 3-day Conscious Living Retreat.

Though each of our stories is unique, we all seek to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment. Come together in community to learn and share how best to live a fully conscious life. No textbook, no homework, no qualifications necessary. Just bring your authentic self and your experiences, as we collectively venture together into the universality of our shared human journeys.

SoulFlow Yoga with Heather Murray '95
Tuesdays, 4:10-5:35 pm, Gates Community Center
September 16, 30; October 7, 21; and November 4
Heather's class is a mix of steady Vinyasa Flow Yoga to strengthen and engage the body and mind, mixed with mindful alignment and the occasional Yin or restorative posture to drop you into a deeper place of stillness. You can expect to be challenged, but always with a big dose of laughter, beautiful music accompaniment and encouragement to find a place that respects your intelligent edge. This class is for all and will include movement with the breath, as well as opportunities for stillness and meditation. Heather feels that yoga is simply the expansion of our ability to feel and experience each moment as fully, as it is, and is excited to share her take on the practice with the COA community. Mats and props are available in Gates, but you can also feel free to bring your own.

Mindful Flow Yoga with Dennis Kiley
Tuesdays, 4:10-5:25 pm, Gates Community Center
September 23; October 14, 28; and November 11, 18
This class offers something for people with all levels of yoga experience. It is a flow class that integrates asanas, breathwork, meditation, Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Each class is an inquiry into connecting with our bodies, opening our hearts and quieting our minds. The emphasis on flow is as much on accessing the internal experience of flow as it is what we're doing with our bodies. As we move our bodies and explore our edges, we learn how to rest in a place that is already at peace and still. By practicing yoga on the mat with mindfulness, we learn how to live with awareness and presence off the mate in the postures of our lives. Mats and props are available in Gates, but you can also feel free to bring your own.

Jivamukti Yoga with Rory Curtin
Thursdays, 7:30-9:00am, Gates Community Center
Jivamukti Yoga is a method of hatha yoga that encompasses a vinyasa-style physical practice and a core philosophy expressed through five major tenants: Nada (music and the importance of sound), Ahisma (nonviolence), Dhyana (meditation), Bhakti (devotional chanting), and Shastra (Yogic philosophical teachings). The physical practice (asana) is expressed by the founders Sharon Gannon and David Life to be "more than mere physical exercise to keep one's body fit or to increase strength or flexibility; it becomes a way to improve one's relationship to all others … a dissolution of the sense of separateness, the realization of the oneness of being, the discovery of lasting happiness." Student will experience each of the five tenants through a somewhat rigorous physical practice. That said, ALL skills levels are welcome, because one of the beauties of yoga is its accessibility and that a "right" way and "wrong" way does not exist! If you have questions, please contact Rory at

free guided meditations