The Living Yoga Blog

Season of Growth

When we talk to people about Living Yoga, about the work that we do and the impact it has in the communities we serve, one question that frequently arises is this: “since Living Yoga relies on volunteers to teach its classes, why do you need donations? *Where does the money go?

It’s a good question and the short answer is that it enables our volunteers to do their critical work by funding necessary training, scheduling and logistical support.

The heart of what we do is beautifully simple; we bring teachers, skilled in the practice of yoga, to individuals who have experienced trauma in their lives. Study after study has shown how yoga can give these individuals better, more effective ways of dealing with the destructive effects of trauma, helping them become healthier, more productive, more positive members of their communities. That is the simple magic that happens when teacher and student get together. And, thanks to the generosity of our teachers, that part is free.

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Thank You Nancy!

NancyAfter 7 amazing years, our wonderful Volunteer Coordinator, Nancy Williams, is stepping down. Here's a little more from Nancy about her decision and what's next for her down the road. 
 
It is hard to believe that it has been more than seven years that I have been at the helm of the Volunteer Coordinator ship (along with many other roles!). The time has come for me to step aside and give someone else a turn. 

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What You Make Possible

Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes to make the work of Living Yoga possbile? Check out this nifty infographic that shows how your support get channeled into transforming the lives of some of our community's most vulnerable populations. Want to help us reach more students? Sign up for roots monthly giving today.

 

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What We Can Learn From Cats

catyogaGreat class story by Living Yoga volunteer Ivy Mer. Thanks for sharing Ivy!

Super sweet class this morning at the Edwards school. Co-taught with Lauren. Only the younger group of kids were in class today. Last class Lauren and I taught together many of the kids shared that cats where there favorite animals, so I decided to bring in cards I got that were cats doing poses.

During the check in we each went around and said something we learn from our pets or there favorite animal. Each kid had something really wise to share. Examples included : finding space, being playful, balancing play and rest, being present, protecting those they love, and much more. Each kid then went around and shared what card they had and read the name of the pose which was in Sanskrit. This was a great way for us to all fumble around with trying to pronounce the names and nobody felt bad if they couldn't figure out how to read it in since it was a different language.

The kids each taught their pose, and were all engaged. They did a really great job teaching. Once everyone had a turn, I then weaved all the poses together into a flow. Finishing with shavasana , or today our "cat nap". Lots of great teachable moments, and a great balance of play, presence, rest, and integration. Great kids! Another great morning at Edwards!

 

All You Have To Do Is Show Up

All You Have To Do Is Show Up
by Kelly Blunt

santatree“I have been looking forward to this class all day”.

That was the first comment I heard from one of our students at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility on Christmas Eve this year. It’s a simple
statement that, taken out of context, is just a casual comment. But context is everything.

Last year when I taught on Christmas Eve at the medium security unit, I remember clearly that one of the correction officers was stunned when
he saw me come though. “What are you doing here tonight? It’s Christmas Eve!” And I also remember my response: “That’s exactly why I am here, it’s
Christmas Eve”.

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The Gift Of Sharing Yoga

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”   ---Albert Einstein

By Kristin Butler

Yoga has been a vehicle for transformation in my life for the past twenty-five years, and I feel blessed to have been presented with the gift of yoga at a fairly young age. Through my own personal practice, I have developed life long skills in self acceptance and acceptance of others, learning to stay emotionally stable in stressful situations and an increasing awareness of how interconnected we all are and the daily miracles that surround us all if we are willing to tap into this connection.

I have been truly blessed, not only with being introduced to this powerful practice at an early age, but also to have been born into an affluent educated family that supported my physical and intellectual growth and inspired in me a confidence in my own abilities.  Although the practice of yoga teaches you to let go of attachment and expectation, we are all born into a personal situation that is already laden with expectations.  Breaking free of these lifelong patterns is one of the most challenging and liberating benefits of a yoga practice.

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Om For The Holidays

christmas-yoga-santaOur gift to you this holiday season is this wonderful breathing practice, created by Suzanne Bigelow, a teacher at our Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, to ground and connect you to the feeling of "om."
 
Inhaling, feel the connection with humankind; exhaling, feel the specifics of your human experience.
 
INHALE: Feel your trunk and abdomen expand with the fullness of the diaphragm.  As the body expands wide, extend your awareness into the area around your body, feeling your connection to the people, sights and sounds surrounding you in the moment.
 
EXHALE: Draw your attention back inside your body. As the lungs empty and the belly draws towards the spine, sense the firmness of your feet on the ground and the length of your spine running through the core of your body, feeling  your uniquely specific physical experience of that moment.
 
May all of us find our way "om" this holiday season.

The Jewel Is in The Lotus

lotusEnjoy this wonderful story by our teacher Angelina.

A few weeks back, while teaching the DePaul Men's class I introduced a hand mudra (gesture), called Lotus. We were doing short standing pose sequences, starting and ending each sequence by coming into Mountain Pose for several breaths to notice in silence. I offered that they could stand with arms down by sides, hands in prayer position or laid over heart area, or try something called Lotus Mudra--placing hands together in front of chest with the outsides of pinkies and thumbs touching, fingers open, creating a flower-like vessel between the palms.

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Home For The Holidays

The following is a meditation practice created by Liz Eisman, one of Living Yoga's Teacher Trainers

I recently read an article by Anne Cushman in which she described receiving a round yoga mat as a Christmas gift. She noticed how it inspired her to find freedom in rounder movements. This holiday season I suggest you take Anne’s advice: Experiment with getting round!

The holiday season (along with the end of a year) is a time of reflection, social gatherings, and often, emotional mayhem. For many it triggers feelings of lack as advertisers send the message of “not-good-enough” and “buy more”. Many people return to their families of origin and wonder why they revert to former ways of being. Although you may not feel “at home” in the presence of a particular person or in a particular environment, there is a way to be “home for the holidays”.

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