The YES! + club gives students at Western a chance to learn youth empowerment and skills through yoga, conversation and fun.

Western sophomore Brooks Hassig started the AS club spring quarter of 2007. It is a subset of the Art of Living Foundation, an international organization that focuses on creating violence-free, stress-free and crime-free communities by bringing peace to one person at a time.

“I joined when I was eight, my mom joined too. However, I didn't really keep up with it during high school and the first part of college,” Hassig said. “But then last winter I took the workshop at the University of Washington and it felt so good. I had felt so heavy beforehand and after I just felt so light and then I wanted to give people a chance to feel the same way. The goals are so nice, uniting the community and uniting the world as one community.”

According to the foundation's Web site, the Art of Living was founded in Bangalore, India in 1982 by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. They aim to renew human values, rid the world of conflict and strive to be a greater good in the world. The foundation has several humanitarian aid and trauma relief areas around the globe, everywhere from Lebanon to Iraq to the United States. In addition, the foundation also holds self-development seminars, has an Art of Living Prison Program and offers Sahaj Sarnadhi Mediation and Sri Sri Yoga.

“The goal of the club is to get together and have a good time, while learning everyday skills that help us,” Hassig said. “It's a great way to end the week and de-stress before the weekend. We have food, meditation, yoga, talk and just play.”

As part of the club, Hassig will be hosting an Art of Living Foundation workshop happening Feb. 26 to March 1 in Bond Hall. According to Hassig, the workshop will give you all the skills you need for success without stress.

The club, which typically meets on Friday at 4 p.m. in VU 565, is open to all interested students. At the beginning, students come in and get to know each other a little bit, Hassig said. From there, students take time to discuss service projects and check in. After that, they work on breathing techniques and yoga to relax. Next, there is guided mediation which helps reduce stress and put students in a positive mindset, Hassig said. Finally, students have the chance to eat and talk with other students before leaving for the night.

According to the Art of Living Foundation's Web site, over 500 college students participated in the YES! + club fall quarter at various campuses across the United States, including Stanford, USC, Brown and Cornell. In the past year, 50,000 international students have taken part of the organization.

“My favorite aspect of this club is when people leave on Friday night and they just look so happy,” Hassig said. “This is just a space and an opportunity to relax and feel good. When they leave they have a kind of glow and peace. This is when I know it has really worked, and that makes my week.”

In addition to the yoga and mediation, the club is continuously working on expanding the service projects area.

“We are slowly, but surely, working towards having more opportunities,” Hassig said. “Right now what we are doing is giving out free hugs every week. I thought it would be repetitive but people are so appreciative and really enjoy that we are there. If nothing else, they are laughing at how ridiculous it is. And that is the goal; it is spreading smiles and lightening people's days.”

According to Hassig, club attendance ranges from week to week, but there are 12 solid participants.

“It's the reason I started this club. I don't have bad days, the whole goal of everything is too have a good day,” Hassig said. “I will be assisting the workshop; the teacher is someone from the Art of Living Foundation who I met while I was in India attending another YES! + workshop.”

Students interested in learning more about the club or the workshop can contact Hassig at (253) 312-2511 or brooks.hassig@artofliving.org.