STEP uses yoga with puppies to raise awareness for CCI

Photo by Cidney Bachert.

Memory Mall was filled with relaxation and puppies Wednesday night as students raised awareness for service dogs while practicing yoga on the lawn.

The event, STEP into Yoga, was hosted by STEP@UCF, a student organization on campus.

STEP@UCF works, trains and raises awareness for service dogs. The organization partners with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), which is a “non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships,” according to their website.

The dogs that STEP@UCF works with are on campus full-time, with one living on campus with its trainer.

The event began at 5:30 p.m., allowing participants time to set up their mats, snuggle with puppies and enter a raffle to raise money for the RSO. The money raised goes back to CCI.

“This is our first really big event,” Event Chair Addy Hudson said. “It combines my passion of yoga, and UCF’s, because I know a lot of students here enjoy it.”

Hudson was first inspired to take yoga by her mom, and said she believed that the event would go over well.

“Who doesn’t love yoga, and who doesn’t love dogs?” Hudson, 19, said.

The event was advertised on Facebook, but some students saw it advertised in the Student Union or even just passing by.

“I’m hoping that this will make me feel more relaxed and zen,” Stephanie Miller, junior marketing major, said.

The class was taught by Teresa Lombardi Terrell of Inner Essence Yoga, located close to campus in Oviedo. Participants were taken through several different flows, or a series of poses that move easily into one another.

While the class was for all levels, there were opportunities for the participants to challenge themselves.

“I loved [the class], I love yoga. It’s the perfect thing to do after school,” participant Mirian Romero, 25, said. “I would do it again. I didn’t know about it. I actually just passed the girls and the dogs and ran to my car to grab my mat.”

Overall, the feedback from the participants was positive.

“Everyone had a lot of energy and seemed to really enjoy themselves,” Hudson said. “I got so many compliments about how much fun they had and how we should do this every semester.”