The Living Yoga Blog

Teachable Moments

20111005 OSCI aishaharleyPHOTOGRAPHY 0053 copyOur new teacher, Debra, shares her first teaching experience at our new class at Lifeline Connections in Vancouver:

In preparation for teaching my first Living Yoga class, I met with Teri, the co-teacher, to discuss sequences and to learn what I should expect from a Men’s recovery class. She advised me to expect the unexpected, get the class moving, have some modifications in mind, and have more tools in your tool belt than you will ever need. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

We had a large class of 20 men. There were more men then mats! My first challenge was acclimating to the fact that this was not a yoga studio. The age range was late 20's to early 60's, with an assortment of abilities and limitations. About half of the men were apprehensive about taking the class, and at least three men were physically unable to get on a mat at all.

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A Young Boys Transformation

20130903 DePaul Youth LY 0145 copyHere is a story from Liz, who teaches at a school for youth who are working through their life experience with trauma:

Five kids & two staff members were present for the class today, with one timid new boy participating from the doorway. I taught alone today. We each said our name and something we had seen when we were walking: rosemary, mallard ducks, stone turtles, a bird, a salamander, my bare feet, and a snake with a blue stripe. I used the rosemary as a point of focus and as an incentive for participation- each student was promised they could have some at the end of class. We all listened to the sound of a shaker toy while each participant got the chance to shake it, make sounds, and name a hidden object they located within the toy.

We started and ended our active practice with this exercise for focus & continuity. Fairly quickly I got them up & standing to help keep their focus & find their feet. We talked about the breath and a few students took turns leading us with the Hoberman’s Sphere. We focused on gentle active movements because it was important to keep the two very active boys from getting overly wound up/dysregulated. Because of this, no active games today. Some poses we did: Standing breath work with arm lifts/lowers & calf extensions, forward fold with opposite inner thigh presses, chair, squat, and table with opposite arm/leg lifts. Each of us went around and instructed a different balance pose. What kept the focus? Multiple reminders to listen and take turns talking one at a time, to keep one’s body & attention on own mat and returning many times to Mountain Pose to calm & center.

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Rewards of Recovery

20130903 DePaul Youth LY 0093 copyHere's a great example of how your support is changing lives each and every day. This story is shared by Tony Roberts, volunteer teacher and recipient of the "2015 Volunteer of the Year" award:

"We started the class of teenage boys with the question "How important is a support group in your recovery?" Many great answers from the boys. One boy, who sat off to the side and did not participate in the yoga, told us he was going home tomorrow and that his family would be his support group, but then he added, "I hope." It hurt to hear him express his concern...but all the boys in class spoke up, telling him they all supported him and encouraged him. Then my teaching partner, Harry Dudley, volunteer teacher and Board Member, led a nice Warrior series ending with a wonderful meditation, with an intention around "sobriety".

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Just Breathe

20130903 DePaul Youth LY 0090smallHere is a great story from Harry, one of our volunteer teachers:

I was at DePaul Youth Center last night. I arrived and we went to the new room where classes are now held. It was the first time for me, and for some reason I was a little taken aback. The following exchange ensues:  Me:-"Not sure about this new space. Trying to figure it out." Lad:"You got OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)?" Me:"Well, yeah, some features of it, like adapting to new stuff can be really challenging sometimes." Lad :"Just breathe, it will be OK." Me: "Thanks."

This was, of course, a perfect introduction to what lay ahead. I had 5 boisterous lads who made it clear they needed to chill. Did some mild to moderate sustained asana, peppered with a lot of discussion (and some genuinely hysterical moments), and a 20 minute yoga nidra. The one boy who initially was in a really bad mood and who initially wanted to sit it out, joined in about half-way through, and expressed his gratitude to LY because he left feeling much better. I left feeling nourished. And, I left thinking the new room is pretty awesome.


Spring Time Magic

spring flowers wallpapers 41Small, but sweet class this morning at the Edwards school . Liz and I taught. 3 kids and two staff. We themed the class around spring flowers. We had a bouquet of picked flowers in the center of our circle. I started us off with a poem about how flowers grow, in which we used as a theme though the whole class, starting off as small seeds in child's pose.

They each went around and shared what helps them grow. We spread our strong roots, we took in light from the sun, we stopped and "smelled the roses" as we breathed. Liz and I took turns teaching as well as the kids. It was super sweet to hear one of the boys lead us in tree pose and then bringing his arms up into what he called world pose. The staff and the kids were all very responsive and participatory, great class!

My Heart is Full

active boysHere's a wonderful story from our teacher Tony.

Before class I spent a few minutes cleaning up the room to prepare for the boys to arrive. Staff mentioned to me that 16 boys are here! Quick pivot and we move outside of the room onto the adjacent basketball court's a first! Only 9 boys show up though, so we quickly went back indoors and began. All of them were there for Easter, so we talked about "Hope".... what do they hope for over the next 12 months. "I hope I get a job" "I hope I'm sober" "I hope I don't end up back in Juvie" I shared part of my sobriety if someone had said try and stay sober for a year I would have been scared stiff...but when someone said "try it just for today...and then try it for another day at a time" how that seemed possible.

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The 2016 Yogathon is Almost Here!

How does Yogathon Work 1 The 2015 Yogathon registration officially begins on March 16th! 
Our goal is to raise $40,000!
The more people who are signed up, fundraising, and promoting the Yogathon the better our chances are to hit our $40k goal. We have BIG plans for the funds raised from this event. Not only do these donations enable Living Yoga to maintain our existing programs, they allow us to expand and serve new demographics like kids and youth, through our partnership with such groups like Trillium Family Services!

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Fully Present

active boysGreat story from our teacher Tony "Four boys participated in class, a fifth joined for the meditation led by Harry at end of class. Awesome class tonight.

The white board had questions on it about what were the boys grateful for and what skill had they used today? So I asked the boys to answer the questions....wonderful answers "grateful to be alive" "family" "sobriety" skills...."wise mind" "radical acceptance." Breath exercise inviting them to breathe in what they were grateful for and then breath it out into the world. Some gentle floor poses, Warrior 1 and an awesome variation from Harry, then Yoga Nidra.

Beautiful class, fully present boys and an hour that slipped by very quickly. Heart full of gratitude." Thanks Tony for sharing and for bringing your loving presence to these teen boys!

What's Been Going On

redlogoUpdate on Street Yoga Transition

It’s been a busy few months since Living Yoga incorporated the Portland based Street Yoga classes and volunteers into our operations. Here are some highlights and updates from the last four months.

When Living Yoga first brought on the classes from Street Yoga nine were active and two were on hold. Additionally, there were about 20 active volunteers with more than 20 on a wait list and about another 20 that had been active in the past, but who were not in the classroom currently. ​ We're happy to report that we have re-started the two classes that were on hold and have found assignments for all the teachers who wanted to get involved. We're also actively engaged with our new volunteers to ensure they have the support they need through regular phone and email communication. It's been great getting to know the new volunteers through our info sessions, continuing educations workshops, and also our appreciation events.

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Yoga Recovery & Addiction

sunwarriorThe first Living Yoga Recovery workshop was a success! Unfold studios provided the space and LY teachers, Jill, Heather, and Linda crafted the workshop. We had 20 people in the room! The workshop included a combination of asana practice, meditation, yoga philosophy, the brain and addiction, and the connection between the yamas/niyamas and the 12-steps.

A take-away from the workshop was the importance of community and self-awareness. In the midst of addiction there can be much isolation, shame, and guilt. Practicing yoga with others who have been impacted by addiction feels empowering and inspiring. Heather, one of our teachers, shared with the group, “Yoga is the exploration of shining awareness into our darkest corners rather than avoiding them and our ability to sit and be fully present with the breath.” What an honor to practice with others who have similar experiences and to see how yoga has impacted their recovery. 

Linda, one of our teachers, shared the following about her experience helping to lead our most recent recovery workshop. "Teaching recovery yoga has been a blessing. It has opened up two areas in my life that are vital. I feel yoga is so beneficial and integrates with recovery almost effortlessly. To be able to be a part of the workshop and connect with others on these two topics was a great experience. I appreciated the opportunity to share my experience with recovery and yoga philosophy and how they tie together for me, but overall, I feel that I received more than I gave, from Jill, Heather, Carly and the other participants who shared during the workshop.

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