Seva (Service) Yoga
Since January of this year, I have been teaching yoga every Friday evening at the juvenile detention center in my community.
In my work as a yoga teacher, I know it is imperative for me to take my teaching to places where it is not conventionally accessible. I know that yoga does not only benefit those who can afford it or find it in their own communities, I firmly believe yoga and it’s healing benefits can be beneficial to all and I have been called upon to do my small part within my own community.
It has been very apparent to me since the first day of my first counseling job working with high school students in county community day schools that they were the population of souls I was meant to work with. They are my people and I feel my most authentic self when I am deep in work with them. For years, that work was in a counseling capacity and I learned so much about resiliency, forgiveness and seeing the positive in almost all situations. After attending a training with UpRising Yoga, I was inspired to cultivate this work within my own community and this year my intention became a reality as I started weekly yoga classes at the juvenile detention center in my own city.
I show up each week to teach. I teach the boys in my class about pranayama, asana, the chakra system, mindfulness and who Stevie Nicks is. The basic essentials.
But, I have been learning a whole lot from them, too.
I start each class with a check in and check out. I assign homework each week (a pose to work on, a mindfulness practice to try off the mat, etc.) and ask them to tell me how they practiced yoga on or off their mat in the last week.
Some of their responses blow me away, they give me chills, they inspire me and they never fail to remind me WHY I show up each week. Their understanding of yoga is helping deepen and challenge my own understanding of yoga and my commitment to my own practice.
They have shared with me about how their breath practice has kicked in when they were in a courtroom, in front of a judge, on the phone with a family member receiving challenging news, when they were in a moment of confrontation with another youth and when they were having a hard time falling asleep. They have shared with me their own personal mantras they have uncovered through our practice and times when they used those mantras to de-escalate or regulate their emotions. They have shared their progress in poses and how they have tried to teach those poses to other youths who do not come to our classes.
It is a highly mobile population. The kids are in and out, they come and go, some only getting a week or two of yoga in before they are off to….somewhere. I just have to hope that it’s enough. My life’s work has been to be a seed planter. I work with kids for sometimes a very short period of time, and I have to believe something got through and will cultivate into something positive one day. I am more than OK with never knowing about those results. I believe they are there and will have a healing effect on another person they interact with, creating a chain of healing around the world.
Were doing this seed planting, cultivating and growing together, hopefully to uncover our most whole selves one inhale, exhale, sun salutation and Fleetwood Mac song at a time.