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ISSUE 118 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/4/2005

Tom Brown: Sharing significant touch

By Sara Perelli-Minetti
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 4, 2005

Consider yourself missing out if you have not yet attended a yoga or Thai massage class led by Tom Brown ‘05. A senior psychology major from Apple Valley, Minn., started leading free yoga classes for students last fall in Kildahl Hall’s lounge. This year, the program has grown into a full-fledged club. He now leads two classes a week in the Dittmann Center.

A former girlfriend introduced Brown to yoga. After attending a few of Bob Bruce’s yoga classes here at St. Olaf, Brown decided that yoga was something he wanted to explore further. He got a few books and learned additional poses and stretches.

According to Brown, it was the scorpion – one of the most advanced poses in yoga – that triggered his love affair with yoga.

“I saw it and said, ‘Wow, that’s really cool, oh my goodness, I have to keep trying this!’”

After studying and mastering many of the basics of yoga, Brown decided to introduce it to other St. Olaf students. He began by teaching Kildahl classes, which quickly gained popularity.

“People just loved it, so I wanted to do more, and this fall founded an actual club. It started with about 45 people, and now the biggest class I’ve taught had 86.”

Typically, Brown starts each class with a welcome and some relaxing meditation, followed by a flow exercise such as the sun salutation, a traditional, flowing yoga practice meant to ready the body for more difficult poses.

Next, practitioners transition into poses and then Thai massage.

“I’ve always wanted to be able to give a good massage,” Brown said. “So I found some books on Thai massage and decided to incorporate it into my classes.”

Classes end with a guided meditation or some other calming exercise so that attendees leave “completely relaxed and fully exercised both mentally and physically,” Brown said.

Brown sees his yoga classes as an opportunity to be a part of a comfortable social environment, a chance to get some exercise and a test of mental stamina (as one must focus to do the poses). But above all else, he sees the classes as a spiritual exercise.

“Warmth, acceptance, contentment,” Brown said. “I want people to have all of these things.”

But what Brown loves most about teaching yoga is: “When people leave my class beaming. I also love when people come up to me after class and ask about exercises and stretches for their own bodies,” Brown said. Brown hopes to find a career in clinical psychology, “so I like the counseling aspect of yoga and meditation.”

After sharing his yoga philosophy, Brown demonstrated a few poses, including the Scorpion, which he has now mastered, as well as some Thai massage techniques and gave me a massage. My muscles felt more relaxed than they have been since last summer!

As a recipient of Brown’s massage skill, I can now say that I will certainly be at his next class.

Classes are held at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings in Dittmann Studio One, and at 7 p.m. on Tuesday evenings in Dittmann Studio Three.

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