Last Friday, I had the pleasure of joining Rocky Mountain Service, Employment and Redevelopment (RMSER) to kick off their quarterly all staff meeting focused on stress relief and wellness in the gym of a community center in northwest Denver. Currently, RMSER serves more than 3,000 lower income and disadvantaged people annually through its Head Start, Workforce Training, Migrant Farmworker, and Senior programs. As more than 100 program, administrative and even kitchen staff gathered at long tables in the gym, I could feel the energy of the group bustling about to get their day started, wiggling in their seats during the morning announcements.
Called to stage, I asked the crowd who had done yoga before – perhaps 6 or 7 of the 100+ people in the room raised their hands. I thought to myself, this is why Kate and I started this project! We are called to open this path to others.
We started with some basic pranayama techniques. As the room closed their eyes and began to connect with the breath through 4-count breathing, it became quieter and quieter until the room settled, not more than a couple of minutes after beginning to come inside. There is nothing more powerful to me as a teacher than feeling that shift of calm come over a room, and seeing in the eyes and bodies of the people in the room that they can feel it too.
Moving into a posture demonstration, several brave souls volunteered to get up on stage with me and demonstrate to the group. Round 1: balancing poses to improve focus and concentration. Round 2: a warrior series to cultivate strength and courage. Round 3: some animal poses because they are fun! Poses that adults can do, but also poses that the Head Start teachers in the room can do with their kids.
I have to say the highlight is when the ladies in the room nominated the only 6 very good-humored men in the room to do round 3, not knowing of the animal sounds they would be making and the poses they would be doing. They were great sports, and a couple nailed a killer bakasana – first time out!
So much laughter and play throughout our practice, a sense of discovery and wonder at what the body can do. From the woman who found her midline in tree and suprised even herself when she stood on one foot to the one who rocked out her “YES!” pose (reverse warrior), there were many reasons to celebrate the people in the room, who work hard every day to satisfy Colorado’s diverse employment, training, and educational needs.
We closed with a brief guided meditation to bring the room back together and as the quiet came back, I issued the challenge I give out to students in my studio each class. Find a time to be quiet, at red lights, in line at the store, wherever you can, take 3 deep breaths, say something nice to yourself and smile. Imagine if we all did this every day!
I received a lovely note from RMSER after the meeting:
“Just wanted to let you know that I got TONS of positive feedback on your presentation.I cannot thank you enough for coming!
One persons comments in particular I would like to share… Our bus driver, who is overweight told me how much she loved doing yoga with you. She wants a guide to go off of so she can pass what she learned onto her grandson. She was also quick to tell me that on the days that the kids do yoga, she notices an extreme difference in their behavior on the bus (very positive difference:). It sounds like she is a convert.
The administrators are going to try and do yoga once a week together at the office!”
That’s what it’s all about! If you have a group that could benefit from yoga, one time or a weekly class, please contact us at email@example.com. We’d love to come out and see you!