Nate LaCoursiere teaches yoga in MWC 2721.
Photo by Lindsey Jalivay
There is a saying that, “You’re only as old as your spine feels.” Each Wednesday morning, UW-Superior students, faculty, and community members join UWS legal studies professor and trained yoga teacher Nate LaCoursiere, for an all-level vinyasa flow yoga class. These classes are held in the Markovich Wellness Center (MWC) dance studio or virtually from 8-8:50 a.m.
A typical class begins with trying to ground and center oneself through breath work and transition through various postures designed to wake up the spine. “I think a lot of people in the West see yoga as something for really youthful, physically fit, indoor, attractive people. In my practice and teaching, I’m trying to expose a broader audience who I think could benefit from yoga,” said LaCoursiere. The MWC provides yoga mats and blocks for those participating in the class.
About six years ago, LaCoursiere experienced a left knee injury and lost a lot of mobility. Between the stress of his 14-year professional public practice of law and balancing his family life, LaCoursiere started his yoga practice at Runa Yoga in Duluth, Minnesota. “The connection of movement and breath is to this day the only technique that I have found that works for me to help still the mind,” said LaCoursiere.
Inspired by the work of Randy Barker and Lori Tuominen of the Pruitt Center of Mindfulness and Wellbeing, LaCoursiere has incorporated mindfulness into his legal studies courses for the past four years. “We can have great conversations about the study and practice of law, but I view it equally important that my students leave UWS with a commitment to self-care that will help them maintain healthy, enjoyable professional careers and private lives,” said LaCoursiere. The legal studies professor strives to remove the stigma surrounding talking about mental health and encourages people not to be afraid to seek help.
The Pruitt Center also sponsored LaCoursiere’s 200-hour yoga teacher training when the COVID-19 pandemic began. This six-month training course allowed LaCoursiere to learn about the science of physical posture and the philosophy and history of yoga. Through his studies, the teachings of the global spiritual leader, Thich Nhat Hanh, made an impression on LaCoursiere.
Hanh asks, “If our minds are always running forward or looking back, are we truly alive?” Keeping this question in mind, LaCoursiere aspires to “find ways to bring our minds, breath, and spirit together into as many present moments throughout our days as possible. By doing this, I have found the constant beauty and miracle of everything happening around us.”
In return for the Pruitt Center’s support, LaCoursiere has taught yoga classes every Wednesday morning since last summer and continuing throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. He offers different poses and modifications to make the practice as accessible as possible. Although it can be nerve-wracking to try new things, LaCousiere reminds us to have empathy and compassion for ourselves as everyone is on their own journey.
LaCoursiere welcomes people of all experience levels to try his yoga class hosted each Wednesday at 8 a.m. in room MWC 2721 or via Zoom (Meeting ID: 942-7776-3122, Passcode: 546326). For more information, please contact email@example.com.