Office of Women's Concerns (OWC)

Raising the voices of women through dialogue and support
The Office of Women's Concerns was established in 1974 to provide for the needs and interests of women in the Divinity School and the Graduate Department of Religion. As the official arm of Vanderbilt Women in Religion, the Women's Office seeks to encourage the discussion of women's issues, provide opportunities for women's personal and professional growth, increase awareness of the contributions of women to religion and theology, and create opportunities for community among women. The Women's Office also serves as a resource center. Bibliographies of publications by and about women, Divinity School guidelines for gender-inclusive language, and professional referrals are all available through the office.

Check the bulletin board for Office Hours and additional information!

Antoinette Brown Lecture Series

The Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center at Vanderbilt University


OWC is hosting yoga and meditation class taught by our very own Emily Burg  ( every week beginning January 14.
Where: All Faiths Chapel
When: Friday, 2-3 pm


More info below:
    1. Yoga, in general
    2. Yoga Etiquette

1. What is yoga?

Yoga means union – to unify and to make whole. Yoga is the process of bringing the body and the mind together in unification and making one whole in body, mind and spirit.
Yoga teaches us how our bodies work, how to breathe properly, and how to use all of these techniques to our benefit. This enables us how to understand and relate to the mind and body together instead of separately.

What kind of yoga are we practicing?

We are practicing Hatha yoga.   Hatha yoga focusing on uniting opposites: “ha” means sun in Sanskrit and “tha” means moon.  Hatha yoga unites opposites through postures (asana) and breath (pranayama).

Hatha yoga was introduced to the world by Krishnamacharya, considered the father of modern yoga, at the end of the 19th Century.

Is yoga a religion?

No.  Often associated with Hinduism because of its development in India, yoga actually is a spiritual philosophy, of which the physical practice – asana is only one aspect.

Patanjali, a philosopher circa 2nd Century BCE compiled the Yoga Sutras, the core philosophies of yoga practice, in which he outlines the eight limbs of yoga – the philosophies essential to a yogic life:

  1. Yama = attitudes towards our environment
  2. Niyama = attitudes towards ourselves
  3. Asana = the practice of body exercises
  4. Pranayama = the practice of breathing exercises
  5. Pratyahara = the restraint of our senses
  6. Dharana = the ability to direct our minds
  7. Dhyana = the ability to develop interactions with what we seek to understand
  8. Samadhi = complete integration with the object of meditation/what we seek to understand

What is this Om thing we are chanting at the beginning and end of our practice?

Om is comprised of three Sanskrit letters – aa, au and ma – which, when combined together, make the sound Aum or Om.  

It is believed that Om mystically embodies the essence of the entire universe – it is the basic sound of the world and contains all other sounds.  

When chanted it's considered to have a divine frequency, to be a positive affirmation and a symbol of peace and perfection that resonates throughout the body, penetrating to the center of one's being, the atman or soul.

What should I know about yoga before I do it?

Yoga should never be painful

At times, especially as we develop our practice, certain asanas may be uncomfortable, but yoga never should hurt.  There are ways to modify every position to accommodate every body so if something hurts, let the teacher know.  Everyone can find something to do in yoga that can work for them.

Wear something comfortable

We will be moving, standing, sitting, stretching, so wear something that allows for flexibility and ease of movement.  We may also be sweating, so layers are good.

Try to practice on an empty stomach

If possible, try not to eat two hours prior to coming to class.   If you do need to eat before you practice, try to eat something light.

Yoga is about you… and you

Don’t worry about what’s happening on the mat next to you.  Yoga is a journey that brings you inward, connecting you with yourself. It’s not a competition. It’s not a race. It’s not about who’s more flexible, who can relax faster or chant louder.  Close your eyes. Go inward.  We come to yoga to be alone in a crowd – we’re sharing our personal practices together and what happens during our yoga practice stays in the yoga room.

Where can I get a yoga mat?

Local options include:
Target, Marshalls and Whole Foods

Online options include:

Barefoot Yoga

Gaiam (search for yoga mats)

Online resources for more information about yoga:
Yoga Journal

Yoga Basics Yoga

2. Yoga Etiquette

If you come to class late and the class is engaged in opening meditation, please enter quietly and sit right down – don’t unroll your yoga mat or unpack your stuff. Please sit quietly until the class begins to move.  

Please don’t disturb the class during Savasana (final resting pose).  If you need to leave before class ends, please do so before everyone gets settled into Savasana so the class can rest peacefully.   

Yoga and perfume don’t mix.  Please refrain from wearing perfume, essential oils or any additional scents when attending class (if the basic beauty products you use are scented, that’s OK, just please don’t add any additional scents).

We do yoga in bare feet and are on the floor a lot, so we like to keep shoes out of the way of where we will be practicing yoga, and ideally, out of the yoga room entirely (if possible).

2010-2011 Chairs: