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Dorm Yoga

Cold weather takes exercise indoors

Published October 18, 2013

The “freshman 15” tends to plague students long after their first year of college but some still can’t find the initiative to make the easy trek to the gym, especially as the weather gets colder. Bringing equipment into a room that is already bursting at the seams with personal items can make working out at home even more difficult. What most students don’t realize is to get an effective workout they only need one piece of gear: a yoga mat.

Yoga isn’t just about meditation anymore, although that can certainly play a powerful part in any student’s workout. Power yoga is a branch of the study that is appearing more and more in gyms and yoga studios across the U.S. They increase the heart rate, tone muscle and those who practice it definitely break a sweat.

Power yoga focuses on strength and flexibility and does not follow set poses. This makes it easier to personalize a workout for each individual. Classes also vary widely. Some may be heated while others just have an intense, quick flow to the poses.

Invest in a yoga mat that is thick enough to support you when you lay down. If you’re just starting out, you may want to buy a strap to help stretch you further into some poses. Routines can be found at http://www.yogajournal.com or YouTube.

Don’t push yourself too far and be sure to drink plenty of water. Take a break during the routine if you feel too out of breath. Yoga will push you, and while discomfort is normal, pain is not.

According to http://www.thedailycougar.com, yoga aids in boosting a student’s mood and keeping them free of stress. These benefits ultimately extend into the classroom and can help improve grades. This is where meditation comes in to play when looking at the more calming route of yoga. Meditating in your room can bring better results than in a gym class full of other yogis. There will be no distractions of people breathing or shifting on their mats, and you have the option to dim the lights as much as you want and play your own music for background noise.

The act of yoga is an individual journey, and practicing in your room can help enhance that. You will be able to focus more on your limits, what can be improved and move at your own pace. Other than a small price for a mat the workout becomes completely free, eliminating any monthly membership fee from a gym.

Wands at the ready

Students get excited for new J.K. Rowling movie

Published September 19, 2013

A rumble of excitement tremored across the globe Sept. 12 when Warner Bros. announced a new movie set in the Harry Potter universe, written by J.K. Rowling herself.

The Harry Potter fandom burst forth from their two-year post-Potter depression when the news about the film adaptation of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” broke, wands waving and robes billowing as they shouted their excitement from the rooftops. According to latimes.com, the movie will follow Newt Scamander and his wizarding adventures, set 70 years before Harry’s time at Hogwarts, and American Potterheads get a special treat this go around. “Fantastic Beasts” will be set in the 1920s in New York, where “Newt’s story will start,” Rowling said.

“My immediate response was one of sheer excitement,” Rachel Machen, a senior biology major of Sherwood and Quidditch team president, said.

Machen said she loves the Harry Potter universe and everything that comes with it, and that her expectations for the movie are high.

“J.K. Rowling and her crew always deliver,” Machen said. “My only concern is that people will compare it to the main story line, instead of seeing it as a wonderful expansion of the Harry Potter universe.”

Chelsey Davis, a junior English major of Jonesboro and member of the ASU Quidditch team, said she almost fell out of her chair when she heard the news.

“I guess I didn’t believe it,” she said, adding that it was a moment of “complete ecstasy and joy.”

Davis said she is looking forward to the story being set in New York and not a magical place in England that is hard to imagine.

“I’m just really excited to see the monsters,” she added.

Support for Rowling and Warner Bros. is also running high on the Internet. Social media site Tumblr blew up Thursday morning with posts such as, “and in that moment, I swear we were all in the Harry Potter fandom,” “keep calm, because we’re back” and “if you’re not in the Harry Potter fandom, now is a really bad time to be on tumblr.”

The screenplay will be written by “Queen” Rowling, as she’s known on the Internet, because she said she couldn’t stand to see Newt’s character written from someone else’s point of view. “Fantastic Beasts” will be the first of a new series, according to bbc.co.uk, hinting at the possibility that Rowling’s books “Quidditch Through the Ages” and “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” will follow.

In addition to the films set in the Harry Potter universe, BBC TV will be producing a miniseries of Rowling’s non-Potter novel, “The Casual Vacancy,” which was released in 2012. Production for the miniseries is set to begin in 2014, although no date has yet been released for the start of production for “Fantastic Beasts.”

For now, Harry Potter fans can dust off their robes and study up for the magic that is coming to theaters.

Behind the microscope

Faces of ASU Special Edition: Zach Marsh

Published March 11, 2013

Some students can claim their research at ASU helped them become a doctor or chemist, but Zach Marsh’s entitlement has an interesting twist. His lab work with ABI will guide him with his Peace Corps work and has even aided in brewing homemade beer.

Marsh, a senior biology major of Hot springs, works with immortalized, hairy roots that are created when adding bacterium to plants.
After the conversion the roots are grown in a liquid medium.

“It never dies,” Marsh explained. “It continually grows.”

This constant growth allows for different experiments with the plants, which contain anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

“We’re trying to enhance these yields so we have a natural product that we can use to sell to the public that they can supplement their diet with,” he said.

Marsh received a summer internship at ABI after his sophomore year, along with a $2,500 stipend.

“My boss that I was working with offered for me to stay on with him,” Marsh said. “I’ve been working in that lab for two years.”

Amazingly, this work will tie in with Marsh’s plans to join the Peace Corps and work in developing countries.

“A lot of problems are agricultural issues,” he explained, adding that his scientific background could help him increase nutritional value of food.

Like many students entering college, Marsh came to ASU with a direct career plan.  Eventually, that idea evolved into something else.

“As long as I can remember I wanted to be a doctor,” he said. “It wasn’t until my junior year that I decided that it was no longer my dream to become a physician, and that I wanted to serve wherever I was in a different way.”

From there, Marsh decided to look into the Peace Corps to serve at a local level.
He is interested in helping with public health issues, and plans to obtain a master’s in public health with an emphasis in epidemiology.

With that degree, Marsh would be able to study the spread of disease.  “I’d like to work in a developing country, maybe through the CDC,” he added.

Marsh will be entering the Peace Corps before going back to school for his master’s. In four to six weeks he will learn where his first assignment will be.
He hopes that he will travel to a Spanish speaking country but is comfortable with almost anywhere.
His commitment will include three months of training and then two years of serving.

The volunteer work will be nothing new for Marsh. During his four years in college he has been actively involved with Volunteer ASU and is the Alternative Spring Break Chair.  This spring break Marsh will be traveling to Austin, Texas with 10 other students to participate in volunteer activities.

Behind the microscopes and philanthropy, Marsh has discovered a new hobby with brewing beer.

“It’s kind of applying my biology to cooking, in a way,” he said.

He discovered the emerging trend on the Internet last summer and decided to give it a try.  It started off as something fun to do in his free time but developed into more.

“It’s a good time for me and my dad to bond,” he said with a smile.

The beverage comes out tasting good, Marsh added. His “beer-snob” friends enjoy it and haven’t died from it yet.  The process is also a cheap one, producing beer at around $1 per beer.

“You can make it as scientific as you want,” Marsh said of how he applies his biology knowledge towards the process.
In addition to the beer, he has also started making mead after reading instructions on Reddit, a popular Internet site.  The procedure can be done indoors so Marsh is able to brew year-round.
“I knew there was something different about ASU,” Marsh said when explaining his education route.

The difference that he saw has led to incredible life opportunities with his lab work and prospects with the Peace Corps.
The soon-to-be graduate is a prime example of how despite spending  years in a lab and volunteering, time can be found to kick back with a bottle of beer and enjoy the simple things in life.

Quidditch comes to ASU

Published January 17, 2013

The word “Quidditch” brings to mind images of witches and wizards flying through the air on broomsticks, something only possible in the world of Harry Potter — until now, that is. Three ASU students are bringing the magic of the wizard sport to life on campus this semester.

Taylor Machen, Rachel Machen and Richard Bailey are the founders of ASU’s first Quidditch team, The Redweres.  Rachel Machen, a junior psychology major of Sherwood, said that the idea came from — of course — being a Harry Potter fan.

The game is played almost exactly how J.K. Rowling envisioned it in Harry Potter’s world, other than the flying of course. Team positions include Chasers, Beaters, Keepers, and Seekers. A volleyball is used for the Quaffle and dodgeballs are used as Bludgers. The Snitch is played by a team member usually dressed in gold, with a tennis ball wrapped in fabric attached to them.

In addition, the Snitch is allowed more movement than all the other players. Snitches are allowed to run outside of the game area and have been known to climb trees, throw water on the Seekers (players who catch the Snitch), and even get in line at a concession stand for a hot dog.

“The Snitch is meant to be a crowd pleaser,” Taylor Machen, a sophomore exercise science major of Alexander, explained.

Team members also have brooms that they use. Beginner teams often start out with PVC pipes, which they are allowed to decorate, but players can get true broomsticks if they wish.

“You can buy from a Harry Potter site and it looks official,” Machen said.

Although the team is just beginning, Machen added there is a scrimmage in Fayetteville she hopes they can attend on Jan. 26, even if they are just spectators. The first real tournament the team hopes to participate in is the Hog’s Head Tournament in April, which is also hosted in Fayetteville.

There are already eight Quidditch teams in Arkansas (the U of A team ranks 22nd in the nation), and hundreds across North America. Many are registered through the International Quidditch Association. The IQA hosts a World Cup every year for these teams.

“Our goal is to be at the 2014 World Cup,” Machen said.

The team needs more than just players for the field. Machen said positions are open to help with equipment, fitness routines, social media, and advertisement.

Anna Caldwell, a junior psychology major of Jonesboro, said that she wants to be involved without playing but expects the experience to be “awesome and nerdy.”

“It makes me feel bubbly and magical,” she said.

Carrington Pittman, a junior graphic communications major of Amity, is also a big Harry Potter fan that is excited to run around with a bunch of other nerds.

“It’s nerdy and athletic,” she added.

Pittman is interested in trying out for Keeper (the goalie) or the Snitch.

“The Snitch sounds wonderful,” she said.

For more information about joining the team, contact Rachel Machen at rachel.childers@smail.astate.edu, or TaylorMachen at taylor.machen@smail.astate.edu. The team’s official means of communication is the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/redwolfquidditch.  Visit http://www.internationalquidditch.org to learn more about the game.

Patients use horses for physical therapy

Published November 29, 2012

Roy Aldridge, professor of physical therapy, is the head of the hippotherapy program at ASU. He became involved with hippotherapy, which uses horses for physical therapy, while working with a graduate student who had an interest in it.

The most rewarding aspect of the ASU hippotherapy program is “to see patients accomplish things that folks never thought they could do,” said its director.

The program at ASU began in 2002 and has been at the equine center since 2005.
Aldridge works not only with adult patients, but with children as well. Some patients who receive therapy are autistic, and sensory stimuli such as the sound of the horses, different smells and other outside sounds add to their therapy.

War veterans also come in to participate.

Some of these veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder. The program helps them reconnect with society.

“I’ve seen some great personality changes,” Aldridge said.

One patient, 35-year-old Maurice Watson, said he enjoys getting to ride as part of therapy.

“How else would I get to ride a horse for free?” he asked.

Watson is in the hippotherapy program for lower back pain. He said riding has helped his range of motion and gets his back more limber.

Before entering physical therapy, Watson had no experience riding horses.

“This is new and it is good,” he said.

The actual therapy portion of the program comes from the movement of the horse. The change of positions of the rider and the speed of the horse also contribute to the therapy.

Different saddles, Western and English, are used depending on the type of injury. For example, Western saddles are used for veterans, and those with lower back pain do not require a lot of motion from the horse. Other variables include feet in or out of the stirrups and hands on or off of the saddle horn.

Aldridge also positions riders in different ways, including sitting sideways, backwards, and for one patient, on hands and knees without a saddle.

Aldridge doesn’t choose just any horse for the program. He said a horse has to have the right kind of personality and is also evaluated for soundness. Each horse moves differently, and the range of motion a patient needs determines which horse is chosen.

Students can also benefit from the program.

MacKenzie Dow, a graduate student of Jonesboro, is a physical therapy student volunteering for Aldridge.

“This is part of my class now,” Dow said about how the hippotherapy relates to physical therapy.

Dow said she started volunteering when Aldridge asked for help. She began working with kids first and is now volunteering with the veterans’ program.

For Dow the best part of volunteering is seeing the patients improve and asking about their day.

“You really get a bond and connection with them,” she said.

Chelsey Moser, a senior exercise science major of Melbourne, said she enjoyed gaining experience through volunteering.
She became involved with hippotherapy after talking to her adviser about opportunities for volunteer experience. She said the best part of the program is knowing there are no set guidelines.

“It’s a lot of fun seeing the patients’ reactions to the horses,” she said.

There are six volunteers and 12 graduate students working with the hippotherapy program. Aldridge has collected data on 25 veterans since the program began.

For those interested in volunteering, contact Aldridge at raldridge@astate.

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