Starting Feb. 1, Monique Symes ’11 will be helping the MCLA community breathe, stretch, and become a little more mindful.
“Mindful Mondays,” a free virtual program presented by the MCLA Alumni Office at 4 p.m. on Mondays in February, will offer participants a 15-minute opportunity to do some light, office-friendly stretching and breathing exercises and move away from their desks for a moment.
Symes, a Boston Public Schools teacher and yoga/wellness instructor who launched her own company, Mindful Mashup, last year, has taught hundreds of hours of yoga classes to many different audiences. She said she’s excited to bring this work to the MCLA community, particularly at a time when pandemic restrictions have brought complications and stress to everyone.
“A huge passion of mine is to change the mindset around how much time you need to do something good for yourself,” she said. “Yoga is more than just being in a pose—I’m hoping to bring suggestions around how to be mindful around breathing, and for how to create a toolkit you can use during your day.”
Symes became a yoga teacher two years ago, and has been teaching for a decade. Before the pandemic, she was teaching regular yoga and mindfulness classes to middle school students; she launched the program with support of her school’s administration, and raised funds for yoga mats and other supplies. She’s hopeful the program can continue when in-person schooling commences. “It was a huge part of our community,” she said. “When I started teaching, I knew that what students were there for was not just school. One of the things students really need the most is to learn things about life, though not all of them can voice that. They’re dealing with so much—and they want to be able to live healthy lives, no matter how old they are.”
It’s OK to come to a Mindful Monday session just to listen and watch, Symes said—sometimes it’s helpful to get a preview of what to expect before jumping right in, or to decide how best to put to use the wellness toolkit she’s assembling. “Yoga can be what you want it to be,” she said. “It can be a slow you down thing or a speed you up thing. It can be about restoring or strength training.”
It can also be a way to share your own practice with others. “I want it to be a space where people can communicate with each other,” Symes said of the program. “We can hear what other people are already doing.”
Follow Symes and learn more about yoga and wellness on Instagram @mindful_mashup.