Monday, May 2, 2011
SEVA Yoga Project
(picture: The eleven attendee's of my very first yoga class!)
As part of my graduation requirements to receive my yoga teaching certificate I have to put in ten hours towards a community service project. Four of those hours would be actual preparation and the other six would be teaching a one hour class. These yoga classes were to be geared towards friends and family with me donating my time and my students donating items that would go to The Gathering Place.
I decided to start my six classes on the 17th of April mostly because I wanted time to prepare my project after finishing the intensive workshops. I initially sent out an inquiry to my friends on Facebook asking who would be interested in attending my classes and gathering email addresses. Once I had all of those (and a huge response I might add) I contacted my friend Lisa who is a graphic designer to help me design a flier to send out. It was a little intimidating and daunting to actually add my classes to the google shared calendar letting the other yogi's in teacher training know the time slot I would fill and then sending out the email...but once I hit send there was no going back.
My first yoga class happened to coincide with my in-laws being in town (for which I will save for another post) and it couldn't have worked out better as then I was guaranteed to have at least three people in my class including my husband! Their friend Randy who was in town ended up joining as well along with my friends Sarah, Lyndee, Mark, Leanne, Kim, Bryan and one of my fellow teacher trainee's Reagan. I must admit I thought it would be easy to speak in front of my friends but seeing them there, all eyes on me waiting for me to guide them through a class was scary. I felt the butterflies in my stomach and my throat close up as I talked about my theme at the beginning of class. Once I put the music on and began teaching though I began to relax...and before I knew it the hour was up!
Since then I have taught 3 more classes with a generous outpouring of support at each. For my second class I had 13 people and the donation item suggested was toothbrush and toothpaste. Look at how much I collected:
As you can see people were more than kind in their donations. My idea for my service project was to select an item from The Gathering Place's needs list for people to bring every week. I felt that way people would know exactly what to bring and the shelter would get exactly what they wanted. While I know this isn't the route my fellow teacher's took I feel this has worked very well for me and made it easier on my friends and family to know what part these items play in the giving process.
This past week was Gatorade for Saturday:
And baby wipes for Sunday.
It's incredible because every week as I drive to the studio there has been a moment of doubt. Who will show up? Will anybody come? What if I can't do this? When I had 13 people in my second class I was blown away. This Saturday I had 9 and Sunday I had 8. Many have come to every single class and several have taken their first class ever with me. Friends that I would have bet good money on that would never attend a yoga class in their lives have shown up donation in hand, mats under their arm, eager to learn something new. Everyone has told me how fun it's been for them or how much they sweated or how hard the class was.
There's been highs and lows. My voice has been shaky. I've forgotten the right and left side. I'm struggling to find my true yoga voice and sometimes I find myself confused on how to turn my thoughts into words which lead to my students actions. I've changed up the flow and tried new poses. I've laughed with them, I've blanked out, I've come up with playlists I love. Every week, every class has been a learning experience for me. Some days, like Saturday I feel the doubt and I lock the door to the studio behind me wanting to bang my head on it and rip myself apart for how horrible I felt I taught. Then there are days like Sunday where I walk out of the studio feeling so happy and excited for the next class I can't wait to go home and jot down new ideas for next time.
I decided to teach yoga because one day I felt like it just wasn't enough anymore to be telling my friends about the benefits of yoga and how much I loved it....I just wanted to teach them but I didn't know how. I feel like this practice has given so much to me and all I wanted to do was share it with everyone around me. And as my service project comes to an end I realized I still want to share yoga with my friends. That I want to continue to offer a free class to them by donating my time if they'll donate theirs and we can practice together. Who knows maybe they will end up buying a membership where they can take yoga from teachers who are farther along in their yoga journeys and have more to offer. Or maybe they'll want to follow me wherever I go. I don't care if I get paid or not I just want people to take a yoga class and if the only way they will do it is if they can get it for free, well I'll be that person to offer it to them if they want. It just means that much to me to spread this around.
I will say I am prepared for disappointment in a lot of areas along the way. While my SEVA project has taught me I have some really amazing friends and family, it's also made me realize there are many other people who don't come through like they say they will. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that not everyone wants to do yoga or workout or take an hour to do something for themselves while helping give back to the community. Some people won't try new things or step out of their comfort zone and I have to learn, as I am, not to take it personally. It's not about me and all I can do is try. If I inspire one person out there to try yoga...if I can just plant the seed that gets them interested in their health and taking charge of their life, well then I have done my job. And I will continue to try and inspire others along the way. Because I know I have to be reaching someone out there...or else I wouldn't have this urge to keep going.
And there's a long road ahead