The Living Yoga Blog

Humble, Gracious Volunteers

20130903 DePaul Youth LY 0086The following blog was written by Annie, one of our volunteer teachers and long time supporter, on her experience teaching at Outside In, an organization which helps youth and other marginalized people experiencing homeslessness:


I am grateful to be a volunteer for Living Yoga and to teach at Outside In. I completed my training in August of 2011 and chose to teach at Outside In because I have two nephews who struggle with drug, alcohol addiction and homelessness. I am sensitive to this population.

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Seasons Givings

giving treeThe following is a blog post written by our beloved friends at Santosha Yoga (located in Bethany Village). They are spreading their kindness and generosity to our students experiencing extremely difficult times:
Each year Santosha Yoga has a Giving Tree for a local non-profit's wish list of items that they need for their programs serving others in the greater Portland community. This year, Santosha Yoga is holding the Giving Tree for Living Yoga whose work brings yoga to shelters, youth experiencing homelessness, people experiencing incarceration, and treatment facilities. In the work that Living Yoga does, they are bringing yoga to people in significant transitions and challenges in their lives. The yoga helps to provide them a sense of peace, calm, resiliency, and hope. 
We're asking you to help us fill this tree with gift tags of your donations. You don't have to run out to the store and find the latest yoga accessory. We've got a list of the items they need and would use most in their programs - things we might be very used to having: yoga blocks, eye pillows, straps, etc. In fact, last year Living Yoga staff shared with us that often the eye pillows were the most valued prop in their youth in-treatment facility classes because it gave the teens a chance to have quiet and darkness in a place that is often busy with lights on and noises in the halls. 

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Food, shelter, safety and yoga

youthOne of our lovely volunteer teachers, Margot Strauhull, reflects on her experience teaching at Outside In, a facility working with homeless youth in the Portland area:

The reasons and stories for why people find themselves homeless are as varied as the trees you’d find in the forest. In the most recent homeless count for Portland, a point in time survey of those sleeping outside, in shelters, and in transitional housing, found 3,800 people in these situations and another 12,000 that were unstably housed, meaning they were couch-surfing or some other non-permanent housing situation.

Given that people experiencing homelessness are often reduced to focusing on meeting their basic needs: food, shelter and safety, it is a wonder to me that anyone would find their way to a yoga class.

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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

20130104 aishaharleyphoto LY 00792007 9 5 Living Yoga 26220130104 aishaharleyphoto LY 0083

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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