For Library staff, a weekly break to breathe, stretch and let go

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Every week, Marilyn Morgan, manuscript cataloger at Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library, leads chair yoga for librarians. “I find that librarians especially tend to be very service-oriented and put themselves last,” Morgan said. “We often feel guilty about taking time for ourselves. This class is great because anyone can carve out 30 minutes once a week.”

The class starts with a simple breathing exercise; it also serves to reset posture—which has a tendency to sag after a few hours in front of a screen. She then moves on to gentle neck stretches, seated spine twists and hand and wrist stretches, which are especially helpful for people who type a lot. Morgan ends with a series of stretches for hamstrings and hips. “I choose exercises that can easily be done at your desk,” Morgan said. “I suggest that everyone take a few minutes each day to stretch and breathe.”

Morgan holds a Ph.D. in American history, but she’s also always been interested in health and wellness, especially yoga; she was trained at the Baron Baptiste Power Yoga Institute in Cambridge. Morgan began teaching the weekly class for library staff in fall 2011, an idea she first proposed to the Harvard Library Strategic Conversations committee.

“We live in a culture that cultivates stress,” Morgan said. “I love the Harvard Library community, so I am so glad to be able to share my skills with other staff members. I appreciate knowing that the Harvard Library supports this emphasis on wellness.”