By Leah Shuyler, MA, NCC, LPC
Yoga Calm Certification Instructor & Online Course Manager
This post originally appeared on 1000 Petals’ blog.
After participating in a 1000 Petals retreat to Peru, I knew I needed to return. When I decided to set off for 6 months in Cusco, I wanted to bring Yoga Calm® to the community. As Yoga Calm’s Certification Instructor and Online Course Manager, I set off to connect with various local organizations doing amazing, empowering work with youth.
Yoga is not a typical activity in Peru. Many of the youth and families had never tried, or even heard of, yoga. There was certainly some shyness and trepidation at first, but that quickly melted away. It was an honor to share my knowledge with organizations and families.
I am amazed how easily this work translates into any culture. Here in the United States many of our educators work with cross-cultural or English Language Leaner groups. These strategies work great because of their physical, non-verbal foundation.
I had the pleasure of volunteering with two organizations for girls:
GirlSportWorks’ mission is to teach life skills to girls through athletics. We help our students develop leadership, self-confidence, communications, team skills, and healthy living practices, allowing them to realize their physical and mental capabilities as females and as members of the community.
The great thing about starting with Belly Breathing is that the Hoberman Sphere is such a visual tool, very little language or instruction is needed. After some practice, the girls were eager to practice leading their peers and giving each other compliments.
We also had fun getting our bodies up and moving with Warrior Pose (Guerrera!) and Tree Pose. We built community with Tree Circle, which is always a great representation for supporting each other. Then, our session ended with a relaxation. The leader even remarked, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen them all sitting silently at the same time like that!”
Peruvian Hearts works to end poverty and gender inequality by educating young women and creating community leaders in Peru—one girl at a time. Peruvian-born Ana Dodson developed this nonprofit organization to enable young women to embrace education, believe in their own power, and dream of a life beyond the conditions into which they were born.
The Peruvian Hearts ladies, ages 13-18, have support to improve overall quality of life. The heart, mind and body message of Yoga Calm really translated into the community.
Tree Circle and Tree Challenge resonated with the girls as they explained how important community is for challenging each other and also supporting each other. A routine of the group is to share one piece of gratitude. I incorporated this into our relaxation time. Many of the girls shared that they were thankful for yoga. Some of the older students shared that they could imagine times when the skills they were learning would be helpful. The Peruvian Hearts’ Psychologist said she will continue to use the techniques to address stress in their lives.
I am very fortunate for this experience and grateful that I was able to share some of my Yoga Calm passion. Have you been able to share these strategies? What experiences do you have cross culturally? Leave a comment!