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Wellness tips for a healthy spring semester

Learn more about breathing techniques and try out a healthy dinner recipe.

By Rob Ingle, M.S., and Cindy Dormer, Ph.D.

January 22, 2020

Two Roadrunners practicing yoga in studio.Staying grounded and stress-free can be a challenge at the start of a new semester. Energetically, the fall and winter seasons are about slowing down and eating well. However, this time of year can be hectic as we welcome new and returning students and kick off new projects.

The following is the first in a series of simple wellness techniques to bring focus and clarity during the demands of busy season.

Breathe and de-stress

For several thousand years, people in the Punjab region of South Asia have practiced personal wellness, which includes breath exercises, or pranayamas, and meditations. Alternate Nostril Breathing in particular balances the hemispheres of the brain while activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This technique actuates two energy points along the upper nasal cavity, the ida and the pingala. Both points energetically run directly to the pineal gland, an endocrine gland in the brain that produces melatonin.

To begin, set a timer for a minimum of 3 minutes. With the ring finger of your right hand, press your left nostril closed, inhale slowly, fully (six-count inhale) through the right.

With your thumb, press the right nostril closed, release the left and, with an equal six-count exhale, breathe out through the left. Inhale slowly through the left, with the ring finger, press the left nostril closed, exhale through the right. Repeat for 3 minutes. Be patient, it may feel clunky as you get into the rhythm.

For more breathing, meditation and movement opportunities, check out Healthy Pursuits.

Eat well

Cindy Dormer, RDN, Ph.D., professor, Nutrition, teaches Nutrition and Weight Management and Nutrition Education and Counseling and conducts research aimed at health behavior change, obesity prevention and student success. Dormer provided the following recipe featuring “slow” healthy carbs, plant-based protein, satiating fat and loads of health-promoting plant nutrients to provide a delicious boost for the new semester.

Crockpot Greens and Beans

Yields: Six servings


  • 1 cup dried cannellini beans, rinsed
  • Plenty of water (8 cups or so)
  • 4 cups broth (vegetable, chicken or marinara sauce diluted with ½ water)
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 2 pounds fresh greens (kale, spinach, beet leaf, chard, mustard greens, etc.) or 2 bags frozen chopped greens
  • 1 tablespoon rough chopped capers or jalapeño
  • For topping, grated Parmesan cheese or whole-milk yogurt


  1. Place beans and water in a crock pot.
  2. Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours or until beans are tender.
  3. Discard the cooking water.
  4. Add remaining ingredients, stir and continue to cook on high for 30 minutes. While you wait, have an apple and go for a quick walk or do some yoga.
  5. Serve in soup bowls, top with Parmesan cheese and/or yogurt.

Serve with toasted crusty bread.

Topics: Community, Excellence, Health, Health Center at Auraria, Human Resources, Learning and development, Learning Nook

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