bashorkatie

Namaste

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2013 at 9:22 pm

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I was introduced to Yoga about eight years ago through a parent at my school. Cheryl is a Yoga teacher and was focused at that time on children’s Yoga. She approached the school about doing a Yoga Club after school and talked with us about incorporating Yoga into PE. I told her I was intrigued but had never done Yoga. She suggested that I attend a four-day Teacher’s Training the following month. So, without ever having done so much as a “Downward Facing Dog “ pose, I found myself in a class with Cheryl and Amy, her co-instructor (and currently a Shelter Yoga teacher!), and a group of quite experienced Yogis. I survived (barely) with the help of ibuprofen and two very patient instructors as well as a cohort of extremely supportive women. Cheryl and I became friends and, like most of my friends, she was sucked into the vortex of Central Night Shelter and the Sunday Night Yoga Class at Central Night Shelter was born.

We meet every Sunday from 5-6pm in the Shelter space during the months that the Shelter is open. We have guys show up every Sunday—sometimes we have a large number and other times it’s a cozy group. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical when Cheryl first broached the idea of Yoga at the Shelter. I was unsure of the response we would get but the guys who come seem to love it. I am sometimes a student and sometimes a teacher in the class but I always feel I have learned something new from my practice with the men. One thing I love in particular is how hard they work and how diligent they are at following instructions. I love that they can laugh at themselves and with each other. Seeing the guys seated on a Yoga mat, unencumbered by their bags and coats and belongings, is almost like seeing them in a different way. The relief of their physical burdens brings an ease to their postures. As they relax and breathe and concentrate you can see the transformation.

I had been reluctant to teach any sorts of partner poses for fear that the men would not want to hold hands or touch each other. One evening though I decided to take a chance. If they didn’t like it we could always change things up. It was the BEST class ever!! I realized that the men are so seldom touched by anyone and this forum gave them a safe place to experience supportive human contact. I discovered that I, too, loved doing the partner poses with them. It gave me a new and different way to interact with the guys. We know in our personal lives the power of touch and human connection. We know the healing power of touch. I cannot fathom why this was such a revelation to me that it would be a powerful way for the men to interact!

The final pose of a Yoga class is “Savasana”  or “Corpse Pose”. You lie on your back with your eyes closed, hands turned palms up, breathing deeply. It is a pose of relaxation and rest, allowing the body to incorporate the physical changes from your practice before re-entering life. Often, the Yoga instructor will go to each student and make adjustments—pressing shoulders down, cradling the back of the skull to relax the neck muscles. Can I just say that the guys LOVE Savasana!?! It is not uncommon for one or two of them to begin snoring! I have to say I love it too! Lying on that gym floor, grounded in what I have always considered sacred space, feeling connected to and a part of this community of homeless men has become an integral part of my life. I know that it has changed me and changed the way I interact with the men.

Namaste. The light in me sees the light in you. Our vision for the class has always been that this would be a community class with homeless and housed practicing Yoga together.  Come join our class and see the light that shines out, through, and beyond all of us…

 

Photo Credit: Thomas Benefield

  1. Okay. This year? For real. We’re coming. For real!

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