BLACKSBURG – To aid those in academia and all those who work with others, a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist and Virginia Tech faculty member created a podcast to help reduce burnout and focus on flourishing in the workplace.
Using the yoga kernels for public health — breathwork, meditation, and movement — Samantha Harden, an associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, focuses on strategies that help people balance work priorities, the responsibilities of life, and relaxation in her podcast, “Higher Vibrations in Higher Education.”
“By listening to this podcast, people will learn these principles and be able to practice them and change the way they conduct research and the way they show up in the classroom so that we promote health for all,” said Harden, an Extension specialist and affiliated faculty of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute and the Center for Health Behaviors Research. “I want to build a culture of health within academia and the workforce.”
Harden’s desire to help others flourish stemmed from her own experiences.
“I had a breakdown that led me to this breakthrough,” she said. “Stressors exist in the workplace because our infrastructure needs improvement. We can work on ourselves and our interactions with our direct team. For me, that means I have to move my body every day, learn to let go of outcomes, and take time away from email. But what works for us as individuals is different for everyone.”
The podcast format came to fruition because of the variance in how people digest information, particularly related to what yoga is and could be.
“I want to change the narrative of how people see physical activity,” Harden said. “I’ve found that a lot of times it’s the experience. Not everyone is attracted to walking into a yoga studio or a gym and I wanted to find a way where they can still learn these yoga principles. You don’t have to wear yoga pants to do yoga. Practices can be done anywhere by anybody.”
On the podcast, Harden guides listeners through visualizations and meditations. There are also long-form interviews with a variety of guests within and outside of academia and Extension specifically.
“Listeners should join us if they are struggling or flourishing within academia so that they could share the things that they’ve learned,” Harden said. “For those who might feel isolated, they aren’t alone in their feelings. We want the podcast to give a sense of belonging and community. And, almost equally important, sharing free and evidence-based strategies for flourishing.”
The podcast can be found at the major podcast hubs including Spotify, Apple, Google Podcasts, and Amazon Music, or by searching for “Higher Vibrations in Higher Education.”
Max Esterhuizen for Virginia Tech