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Passion for yoga, mental wellness drives 2L Rhianna Wardian to help others

February 19, 2019 | Students

By: James Grega

The pressures experienced by those in the legal community can be overwhelming. With a devoted yoga practice and a budding career in hospital administration, 2L Rhianna Wardian continues to find ways to cope with the everyday stressors of law school while helping others find a little serenity of their own.

A native of Orlando, Wardian came to Moritz after six years of working in Chicago as a studio manager and yoga instructor. She was just 23 when she opened and managed a Yoga Six studio. Her passion for yoga started as an undergraduate at the University of South Florida, where she studied communications.

What started as a spur of the moment trip to a yoga class quickly became a passion for Wardian. A sense of community and connection continued to draw her to the meditative practice. “I ended up haphazardly falling into a yoga class. It wasn’t by choice,” she said. “My initial response to my friend asking me to go was, ‘Oh gosh. I can’t just sit there and breathe. It seems so boring.’ I was very humbled. I found it to be this incredible moment, to be able to release my stress and to not be thinking about all the things that I had to do.”

That sense of connection led Wardian to manage the Yoga Six studio in the Windy City, where she took on a greater leadership role as the manager. The impact she made on some of her students was a particularly powerful experience.

“I have had students that return all the time that have come up to me and said, ‘You’ve helped me with my anxiety or depression.’ I love helping people transform their lives through coming to my classes or just practicing yoga,” Wardian said. “I would say that is just one of the general things I have seen. Healing. A lot of healing.”

Wardian’s passion for helping others led her to Moritz, where she is pursuing a dual JD/MHA degree with the College of Public Health. Ohio State’s reputation as one of the top MHA programs in the country brought her to Columbus. She hopes to eventually pursue a career in hospital administration.

“I have been teaching yoga for about 10 years, and I absolutely love it and I am very passionate about health and mental wellness and our healthcare system as a whole. I want to be able to manage a hospital and slowly begin to offer [yoga] retreats and eventually develop a [wellness] program for professional women, specifically in leadership.”

While Wardian has experienced plenty of rewarding opportunities and has also experienced a number of successes and challenges, too. She accredits her yoga teachers and mentors for helping her to turn setbacks into learning experiences. Wardian believes it’s important for students to remember to take time for mental wellness. Establishing these habits early on can benefit law students when they become working professionals.

“My 1L year, I wasn’t mentally healthy. I was stressed out and I wasn’t sleeping,” she said. “You don’t have to be perfect and be your best self all the time [and that] was strangely a big lesson to be learned. I hope students going through this program will realize their worth is not in their class performance. There are so many other things that are much more important to your well-being. That is the biggest thing that I have learned being here at Moritz.”

As she continues to pursue her JD, Wardian is still practicing yoga. She teaches once a week at Give Yoga in Columbus after finally settling into a routine after her 1L year.