Skip to main content

UChicago Traditions: My First Kuvia

Students doing yoga poses
Sun Salutations, Kuvia's daily warm-up routine. PC: Eliana Melmed


I woke up at 5:30 am, groggy and semi-functional. After getting dressed and rushing down six flights of stairs to the Chamberlin House lounge (my first exercise of the morning), I met with my House’s other successful early risers and walked over to the Henry Crown Field House (Crown) in the morning darkness.

The morning started with Sun Salutations, a flowing sequence of yoga poses led that day by Modern Turkish lecturer Dr. Kağan Arık. I then went to a Genki Kai Aikido workshop where I learned about the Japanese martial art aikido and its philosophy of peaceful conflict resolution, harmonizing with, rather than opposing, the energy of others. We practiced finding “one point,” our center of balance through which we could prevent ourselves from being pushed down or picked up.

When the workshop finished, I grabbed my free bagel and Capri Sun and walked back home to get ready for the day.


Having learned my lesson, I went to bed early Monday night and woke up feeling surprisingly energetic. Some of my fellow Chamberliners were not so lucky, and before heading to Crown, there was some frantic door-knocking to wake people up.

Now less groggy, I was able to process some of the Kuvia traditions I had glazed over the day before. I did a lap around the track before the group warm-up. And I noticed some amusing Kuvia-style touches during the Sun Salutations: the crowd hissed during the Cobra pose and barked during Downward Facing Dog.

Remembering having enjoyed UChicago Bhangra performances in the past, I went to their workshop that day. I’m not the most coordinated person, and I definitely butchered some of the dance moves, but as we were told at the start of the workshop, the most important thing was to smile and have fun!

Students in Cobra Pose
Hiss!!! PC: Eliana Melmed


At this point, I was even waking up before my alarm!

The number of Sun Salutations was increasing, now up to six sets. I had also gotten to the point where I could do the Sun Salutations without constantly craning my neck to remember what the next pose was.

After warm-ups, I did some early morning cardio at Zumba, the musical highlight of which was Daddy Yankee’s Gasolina.

My sesame bagel and Pacific Cooler Capri Sun seemed particularly delicious that morning.

Ballet Workshop
University Ballet leading a workshop. PC: Eliana Melmed.


Eight Sun Salutations! That morning, they were led by a big group of House Resident Assistants.

I went to a ballet workshop with University Ballet and learned the basics of pliés and sautés. I was an extremely clumsy ballerino, but luckily I was not alone! It was very entertaining watching us all attempt to be graceful as we plodded awkwardly through some ballet exercises, amazed at how easy the students leading the workshop made it look.

I tried maple cream cheese on my bagel for the first time that morning, and I was a big fan.

A large group of students gathered behind a polar bear mascot
Kuvia group picture. PC: Eliana Melmed


The final day!

After checking in at Crown and taking a big group picture with Kuvia’s polar bear mascot, we headed back outside and walked to the Promontory Point, a stone peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan. It was a cloudy day, so we didn’t get the best view of the sunrise, but there was still something to be said for the swirl of the clouds against the gradually lightening blue morning sky.

We did our last set of Sun Salutations by the lake, with a final few hisses and barks. Two of my Chamberlin Housemates decided to take an impromptu polar bear plunge, jumping into Lake Michigan’s freezing cold water as the rest of us looked on in horror. Then we walked back to Crown and picked up our t-shirts, which featured an adorable polar bear cub with the caption “bearly made it.” There was something very satisfying about finally holding that shirt in my hands and knowing that now I, too, had Kuvia gloating rights.

I grabbed my last bagel and Capri Sun and walked back home to take a nap.

Submitted by Théo E. on Wednesday, January 23, 2019