The Living Yoga Blog

Give Thanks

give thanks"There is no unit of measurement for what this class, and these women, have done for my journey. I am forever grateful for this opportunity to grow mentally and spiritually. There is no comparison for all that this brings to all of us. Thank you for making this happen, month in and month out. Namaste."
-Student from Columbia River Correctional Institution

Thank YOU to our supporters for making these classes possible!

Our Greatest Gift

Michael SpeechPlease enjoy the following speech shared by Living Yoga's Executive Director at our annual gala "Invest In The Human Spirit"

If we look closely, we can see that the world is held together by a sacred, yet fragile, bond of trust.

This bond is held together by our presence. And our presence is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves, and the world.

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Making Space: A Day of Women’s Retreats at Coffee Creek

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Our students at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility are devoted, thoughtful and gracious. There are waiting lists for the classes and the teachers are long time volunteers who work hard to provide trauma-informed yoga to these women in need. Our normal classes take place throughtout the week for an hour each. In addition, over the past few years, our volunteers, with the assistance of the Living Yoga staff, have worked to bring annual three hour "retreats" to the facility. Below are the reactions from the two workshops that happened earlier this month.

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Eat to Nourish: Body and Soul

pumpkins and squashDuring this season of "trick or treat", here's a treat for you from one of our amazing volunteer teachers! Enjoy learning how to take advantage of the fall harvest.

October is the month of Harvest.  Autumn is settling in and it is the time to feed ourselves both physically and emotionally.  This is a time where we begin to take in all that the summer months have provided, grab some squash and gourds, turn on the oven and feed our souls.  It is the time where the seasons begin to change, darkness sets in a little deeper, and we ground ourselves from the busy summer season.

With this in mind, it is also a time to completely nourish our bodies to set us up for the colder months ahead.  Finally, we can turn on the oven to roast garnet yams, sweet potatoes and russets with delicious spices and oils.  Take the crock-pot out to slow cook a gorgeous lamb stew with fresh herbs and spices.  Make a wonderful dinner of sautéed kale and fresh grated carrots served over quinoa with tamari, organic olive oil, a dash of sesame oil and spices.  

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Rolling With (or without) The Mats

PHFSWe began a new class at Portland Homeless Family Solutions this month with a full volunteer staff excited to teach each Monday evening! And as many of you know, when beginning new classes, there are always kinks and knots that need to be worked out. One of our volunteer teachers shares her experience of the first class. If nothing else, this story reminds us that it’s important to “go with the flow” and take things as they come:

Well, it was an interesting first class last night at Portland Homeless Family Solutions. When I arrived, somehow the yoga mats hadn’t been brought over to the site [from their main location], so we had no mats to work with. We decided that if each student could at least have a towel to fold up and sit on or roll out to lay on, that would work. So staff found us some towels. 

As the students began to arrive, there were two women. One of them, 4 months pregnant, came in with her husband as well as another man. We sat on our towels in a circle and started with some very simple seated stretches. We continued by stretching out on the floor and doing some stretching of hips and arms and shoulders.

Next, we worked our way to standing and did a very basic flow sequence ending with a low lunge. All of the students were new to yoga, but were all very enthusiastic about the class and what we were doing and the relaxing effect it was having on them to breathe and stretch. We finished with a sweet standing Anjali mudra [hands together at the heart] and “Namaste” with translation. They were very grateful.  

We left feeling really good about identifying a problem [not having mats] and rolling with what we had. I’m pretty sure we are all excited to go back and not only have yoga mats, but see some new yoga friends. What a sweet adventure!



Yoga with Youth

fallPlease enjoy this story by Ivy Katz, one of our fantastic volunteer teachers:

There were lots of kids this morning at Trillium Edwards School.  We followed a new format with two groups, one for the younger kids and one for the teens. They all did a great job of staying with the practice today even amongst the distractions.

I kept it really simple and tied in the theme of balance with today being the equinox. We did a few sun salutations where I guided them, and then we did it without me talking, and then one of the students led us through one and we switched mats. It was really awesome to see her get excited about being able to lead. Everyone participated. It went so fast that we didn't have time for much savasana. We ended instead with some seated breathing.

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Recovery Through the Trauma-Informed Lens

Living Yoga is deepening its roots in trauma-informed yoga. We've been discussing things like what does being trauma-informed really mean? What exactly is trauma-informed yoga anyway? As a way to capture the essence of trauma-informed yoga, we've recently created a diagram--we call it the "Trauma Wheel" (see below).

So, now that we've hit mid-month in our focus on yoga and recovery, I've begun wondering what trauma-informed yoga means specifically in reference to Living Yoga's recovery classes. As a way to start this conversation and using the Trauma Wheel as my guide, this is what I came up with. 

Give Options and Choices: Being in recovery is definitely a choice. In Living Yoga's recovery classes, we honor and respect individual decision-making around movement and participation. Options/Modifications/Variations are not only allowed, but also celebrated.

Promote Ownership of Body: Our body--the way we move it, what we put into it, how we treat it--can be a powerful tool in the recovery process. When I understood I could use my own legs to walk away from addictive behaviors, I won.


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You Are Free!

FullSizeRender 2Today I rise with the sun, just as I have practiced doing every day for over 17 years. As I opened my eyes the sun has brushed a warm golden softness to everything I can see outside my window. Below my window bathed in that early morning light is my yoga mat and meditation cushion.

It is with a sense of gratitude that I get up and go prepare for my morning yoga practice. Though the warmth of my comfortable bed tries to call me back, I know that my yoga mat, and my cushion offer me a way of living in the world that is filled with a level of ease and acceptance that was completely foreign to me before I received this priceless gift of yoga. The gift that taught me that I was free.

Most of my life I seemed to feel this sense of missing something. Like there was some kind of joke that everyone but me understood. Around me people seemed to go about their lives with a sense of assuredness that I just didn’t have. Almost like there was a hole inside me, that nothing seemed to ever fill up.

Then the day came when I found drugs and alcohol, and suddenly I knew the answer.

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