Studying sports and mind-body link in India

By Nelson Stover

Sport and exercise are vehicles that can be used to transform societies, says one North Carolina student who visited India early this year as part of his undergraduate studies.  “I’m encouraged to assist in this transformation when I see others improving in their game of life, contributing to a healthy mind and body,” said Will Sands.

Will is one of six sports studies majors from Guilford College who spent four days at the Adivasi Ashram School in  Chikhale village in January, along with their professor, Dr. Lavon Williams, and Nelson Stover, president of Emerging Ecology.  Guilford, a liberal arts college in Greensboro, North Carolina, encourages its students to include international experiences as part of their education.  The Adivasi Ashram School, managed by ICA India, provides a residential learning experience for 700 students in grades one through 12.

The Guilford students took part in physical fitness testing of the students in Chikhale, and joined in two days of sports competition among students from all grades.  The school’s annual sports award celebration was the highlight.  After the competition winners were acknowledged, all students joined in a three-hour cultural program of singing and dancing.  The stage was lit and decorated for the occasion and people from the village filled the courtyard to enjoy the festivities.

“It was amazing to be able to connect with the kids despite having a slight language barrier,” said Lucas McCrory.  “Another thing I would say is to really pay attention to the surroundings. Many of the things we read in the texts were things I noticed in everyday life situations. For example, the chapter in the text titled, ‘Anxiety over chaos’. I could really notice the chaos occurring but India seemed to be functioning in what we considered ‘chaos.’ I thought it was fascinating to read and then actually see these concepts applied in everyday life scenarios.”

“Just when I needed a transformative experience in my life, I received it,” said Will.  “Possessing a lifelong passion in exercise science, the opportunity to study sports and the healthy mind-body link in India was something I knew I couldn’t miss. I knew it would be good practice for my future endeavours in sports medicine and enlightening the lives of others. 

“India’s a place one must experience first-hand. The Chikhale School held a sports week during our time there.  The students displayed remarkable athletic abilities. Their happiness and intrinsic motivation derived from participating in games of India strengthened my desire to help others by improving performance.  Much of my life has been devoted to sports and exercise, as well as the psychological benefits and medicinal value it offers. Regardless of culture, sport and exercise are vehicles that can be used to transform societies.”

As a background reading, the Guilford group studied Being Different by Rajiv Malhotra.  The group also visited Aurangabad where they went to the Ellora Caves and the Daulatabad Fort. 

For more information about the Chikhale School or the Guilford College J-Term experience contact

Nelson Stover ( is president of Emerging Ecology

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