by Joshua Unikel '07
If asked, Sam Koval '09 will humbly explain that, "Yoga is the best way to cultivate a relationship with your body." At Hobart and William Smith, yoga is also a great way for students to form relationships with professors; bending backward in a Half Moon beside HWS faculty has a way of breaking the ice. It also transforms the typical teacher-student relationship. Especially when the instructor is a student.
As one of the Colleges' yoga instructors, Koval has shown that students can play the role of teacher for HWS faculty. "I remember the first time one of my professors, [Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric] Mary Salibrici, came to a yoga class I was teaching," Koval says.
"Probably without her knowing it, I was using a lot of pedagogy I'd picked up from her class to teach yoga. Specifically, I remember using the facilitative approach."
Facilitative teaching, used by Salibrici in her writing courses, is a way for students to tackle problems by helping them discover their own strategies for success. "In yoga," says Koval, "the facilitative approach allows me to provide a little bit of careful guidance so that students can have access to a lot of intuitive knowledge they already have about how their body moves.
The method is important because it empowers my students, allowing them to own their progress." Professors and students alike have been empowered and impressed by Koval's teachings. "One of my favorite recreational activities on campus is Sam Koval's yoga class," says Assistant Professor of English Laurence Erussard. "I really like being taught by a student. He is serious in his approach to the classes and the results are extremely effective."