It’s early on a Saturday morning on the first day of BLUEprint, the WCAA’s annual fall leadership training for alumnae volunteers. But this isn’t your usual session on how to run a reunion. Two dozen alums are on the floor in a circle on yoga mats in a dance studio in Keohane Sports Center.
“We’re going to practice nonjudgment of self,” says Leslie Salmon Jones (above), a yoga instructor and dancer trained at Alvin Ailey, as quiet sounds emit from a plethora of instruments—a Djembe from Ghana, congas, bongos, Indian bells, a tambourine—played by her husband, Jeff Jones. There’s stretching, reaching and exhaling to the sounds of chimes, some downward-facing dog.
Eventually, Salmon Jones says, “You may have done many yoga classes, but I’m sure you don’t do this.” The drumming rings out with the sounds of the African diaspora, and suddenly the group is jumping, shimmying, dancing in a circle. Sweating abounds, as do megawatt smiles.
Welcome to Afro-Flow Yoga, a fusion of African dance and yoga created by Salmon Jones and her husband. Their workshop came to campus courtesy of the Alumnae Association. “Our aim was to begin an intensive working weekend with a fun group activity that promoted inclusion, diversity, and wellness for our volunteer leaders,” says Janet Monahan McKeeney ’88, the WCAA’s director of alumnae engagement logistics.
Mission accomplished, says Shivani Kuckreja ’16. “The class was amazing!” she says. “It was both calming and energizing, and the instructor encouraged everyone to come as they are, thus fostering an environment of inclusivity and allowing people to feel more comfortable to take risks.”