Original watercolor painting of the Karma House building by Sokuzan.

How’s that New Year’s resolution going? If you, like countless others, had yoga, meditation and general wellness on your list, you don’t have to venture any more than five minutes away from campus to get to the Karma House Community Wellness Center.

Karma House is located at 72 North Avenue in Battle Creek and offers many programs, classes and other resources to help you transform into the best version of yourself. For example, a yoga and meditation class led by Program Coordinator Chiezan is a great place to start.

“We have on staff licensed social workers, trauma-informed yoga instructors, and certified meditation instructors,” Chiezan said. “We do not plan to be a traditional commercial studio focusing on fitness or the newest fads but to provide services that address the entirety of a person and that are accessible to all bodies.”

The Sokukoji Buddhist Monastery owns the wellness center, but Karma House stresses that anybody is welcome in their space with no expectations.

“Karma House is intended to be a fully secular wellness center with no aspiration to convert anyone or to use the space to proselytize. It is simply a space where some of the tools we have can be shared openly with the community,” Chiezan said.

Yoga and meditation are great ways to beat the stress that comes with being a college student, something that Program Coordinator and Yoga Instructor Kellie Climie knows all about.

“The pace of life can feel so fast. Your practice can be helpful pause or landing pad. With college students, especially those between the ages of 18-25, the brain is still going through really crucial stages of development and to add in the mental load of school, work, and relationships, it really is a lot for the brain and body,” Climie said. ”Having that pause can be helpful, but also it helps with blood flow and oxygen to the brain (which you need!) and also helps with body tension that comes up with heavy concentration, and frankly all the sitting we do when attending classes and completing course work. Circulation, muscle movement to release tension, breath quality for cognitive and overall body regulation, the practices encourage that.”

It can feel like there’s no time for things like yoga in between part-time jobs, assignments, and classes, but even a small amount of practice can reap many rewards.

“There is not one way to do this. A 30-second practice and a one-hour practice are both valid. Your body appreciates any support it can get. Oftentimes we get overwhelmed with setting a high bar for our practice and discontinue when we feel we’ve fallen short,” Climie said. “Explore different approaches, ask questions, read books, but also allow yourself to just listen to what your body needs and move that way regardless of if there is a name for that pose or practice.”

If finances are something that stands in between you and your first class, there’s no need to worry – all of the classes offered at Karma House are free or donation-based.

“Many of us have learned these practices through the generosity of our teachers and do not feel that they should be kept from others based on the ability to pay. Our community has been through a lot and we hope that more than anything, Karma House can become a community space to build relationships between neighbors,” Chiezan said.

If you are able to donate to Karma House for your classes, you will be supporting both Karma House and the youth of Battle Creek in doing so.

“We use the donations that come in to support our other community-based programs. This includes our movement classes, supplies, and our outreach programs,” Chiezan said. “We currently are partnering with the Willard Library Teen Center offering wellness programming (incorporating yoga, meditation, and information on mental health) throughout the semester. We use some of the money to provide a meal for the kids every week we come in.”

Karma House is an important fixture in the community with ties to many other businesses and organizations, including an upcoming class for Kellogg Community College’s Lifelong Learning program.

“It is basically going to be an introduction to mindfulness meditation. My main intention is to help people understand the basics of how to meditate and set up a home practice. We will talk a little bit about the benefits of mindfulness practice and try to spend maybe 20-25 minutes per class practicing together,” Chiezan said.

Self-care is important for everyone, especially if you’re susceptible to stress as college students often are, and many of us don’t take the time to move our bodies the way we should. Taking a bit of time to recharge your body and brain is one of the best ways to get your head clear and ready to succeed in your studies.

“Life can be wonderful but also very difficult and our bodies are managing a lot just to get us through the day,” Climie said. “Take good care this semester! Move around a little bit, have some fun, take a breath, and remember that the practice can be 30 seconds or less and still be a practice or helpful pause. Drink water!”

You can find more information about Karma House at Karmahouse.org and Facebook.com/karmahousebc. You can register for Chiezan’s Lifelong Learning course here.