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2015: putting down roots

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

After sowing seeds of healing in 2014, we continued to grow our souls together in gardens of wellness throughout greater Boston. during a winter that went down in history, our yoga programs began to take root, even beneath the many feet of snow.

In the Johnson center gym in Roxbury's Alice Taylor homes housing development, families shared the pain and trauma of living in violent neighborhoods, dealing with empty bank accounts, and struggling with broken relationships during January's Address the Stress support group with Smart from the Start. by blending clinical group talk therapy practice with yoga asana, pranayama and meditation techniques, parents, intimate partners and caregivers were introduced to healthier ways to cope with trauma and manage energy and emotions.

With toddlers weaving around and through our circle of chairs, we practiced simple seated and standing poses and deep breathing with mothers living in Crittenton Women's Union's scattered site homeless shelter in Mattapan. we talked about the stress of sharing a small bedroom with another mother and her child for months on end, while at the same time searching for jobs or housing, with transportation limited to pricey and time-consuming public transit. the moms marveled at how a few conscious breaths or bringing small movements into our bodies can transform our minds and moods.

The following month, we took Earthseed across the river to Cambridge, offering parents and guardians a space for self-care during the Community Art Center's Feed Your Soul Fridays. in workshops about managing your energy, creating mantras and affirmations, and practicing mudras and meditation, we explored how to use yoga poses, practices and principles to nourish our spirit as we grappled with the ongoing violence and rapid gentrification crippling Cambridge families living in Area IV public housing.

As spring unfolded, we discovered fertile ground in Boston's senior community. older adults age 50 all the way up to age 82 (!) gathered with us on Saturday mornings at the Parker Hill Branch Library in Roxbury for gentle yoga classes. Their regular attendance demonstrated a strong desire to deepen their practice, and many received yoga books and DVDs to encourage continued commitment to fitness, relaxation and self-care.

In our workshops with MSPCC's KINnections groups, grandparents learned how to relieve the oftentimes overwhelming stress related to caregiving at an older age, raising grandchildren with disabilities or behavioral health challenges, and coping with the changes that accompany aging.

In April and May, we also hosted our 5th weekly yoga class series with Madison Park Development Corporation, where people of various ages (a three year old girl attending class with her mom was an amazingly attentive student), sizes and ethnicities learned and practiced ways to use hatha yoga to balance the energy centers of the mind-body to achieve optimal health.

With the scent of the multi-course meal their peers were preparing wafting through the air, we talked with Future Chefs teens about ways to keep their cool in the kitchen, the classroom, and during other stressful situations in their lives. clad in chef's coats, we practiced pranayama techniques and mind-body movements to strengthen and energize our bodies and relax and focus our minds during the organization's annual skills share day at Everett High School.

By June, we began basking in the warmth of the sun, taking our practice outdoors to Harambee park in Dorchester's Franklin field to explore our human nature as part of the Boston Public Health Commission's Summer Outdoor Fitness series, an initiative to connect residents to health and wellness activities and events in parks throughout the city. we also participated in smart from the start's address the stress summer camp for a second year, and continued our partnership with MPDC during July and August with free weekly classes in the community garden of the Orchard Park housing development.

As autumn arrived, we continued to support aging adults with a series of classes in partnership with South Boston FANS. meeting at Southie neighborhood spots like the Tierney learning center in the Old Colony housing development, the Woods School of Irish Dance and the ABCD South Boston Action Center, seniors enjoyed the experience of chair yoga to enhance their energy, laughing together as one grandmother translated the benefits of one yoga pose from inglés to español to her friends. encouraging her friends to lift and fill their chests with breath, she explained how doing so was "!mejor que una cirugía de senos" (better than a boob job).

We also celebrated the graduation of the second Yoga Diversity Initiative scholarship recipient, Melissa Alexis, from her yoga teacher training, We were grateful to participate in this project to cultivate new leaders in the movement to make yoga more accessible to people of color.

We look forward to seeing the seeds of healing justice we've planted over the last few years sprout into stronger communities, healthier families, and a more equitable society.


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