Keep it Movin’!
Getting older isn’t easy, right? As we age, our bodies lose bone density and cardiovascular stamina, leaving us at greater risk for health problems. Unfortunately, inactivity also increases with age. For seniors, inactivity contributes to risk of falling and fracturing bones and as well as the likelihood of contracting heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. That’s why we partner with Senior Center East to offer free yoga to seniors.
Nessie Riddick attends yoga every week. “It helps me loosen up some. Because I’m stiff. I have arthritis and that helps me a lot,” she says. “I have a lot on my mind. I worry about my kids even though they’re all grown. But it gives my mind a little ease, a little rest, and I just concentrate on the yoga.”
Studies show that older adults obtain significant health benefits with just a moderate amount of physical activity. It also helps seniors control weight and reduce depression and anxiety. When done in community, like PYR’s class, yoga helps decrease feelings of isolation.
Barbara Brown, Coordinator for Senior Center East, has witnessed the effects of PYR’s class over the past several years. “Whether it’s their feet for walking or their fingers for opening jars or cans for cooking, or just helping to build their stamina…they realize that each of the activities are pertinent to a certain part of their bodies and they appreciate that.”
One student even ditched her cane after a year of yoga. “Someone’s knees got so much stronger that they did not need to walk with helping devices,” PYR Ambassador Twylah Ekko explains. “That’s super exciting because I know one day I’m going to need all the tricks and tips that I offer to them. I’ve seen how much they improve and I’m inspired to always keep moving even when things hurt.”
Another senior, Nellie Mitchell, knows that practicing yoga has strengthened her joints. “It helps you be able to move around and it keeps you with an open mind. It keeps you from deteriorating because if you sit still long enough your joints will deteriorate.” Nellie also appreciates the opportunity to try something new. “I want to learn everything I can. It’s a challenge to do different things that you never did before. You’re never too old to learn.”
PYR has partnered with Senior Center East for many years and we hope to continue for many years to come. “There is no cost for our partnership with Project Yoga, and there are many benefits,” Ms. Brown explains. “In order for this partnership to continue there is a need for persons in the community who can afford to do so to make a contribution. It is definitely benefiting the seniors here in the East End of Richmond.”
We hope that when you make a contribution or pay for your studio class, you’ll remember that you are simultaneously improving quality of life for seniors in our community. At Project Yoga Richmond, your practice really does have power.
Reflections on PYR Partnership with NextUp at Elkhart Thompson, Fall 2018
What I enjoy most about working with the youth at NextUp is helping them create a community for themselves. We allow them to dictate their own group agreements, their own rules on how we will all conduct ourselves in the space. Things like: kindness, respect, listening when another is speaking, be calm, have fun, and no judgment. They decide how we will relate to one another and I believe this is what helps creates a safe space for them to open up, to share, to be vulnerable.
It seems that there is a lot of competition for space to be heard and seen amongst the youth. This manifests as attacking one another with words, speaking over one another, trying to make space for themselves. (behavior not unfamiliar to how we as adults can sometimes interact). In Mindfulness on the Mat, we remind the young people of the agreements that were collectively chosen for the space. They are reminded that there is space for each of them and that the right to be in the space and feel safe belongs to each of us.
I have watched friendships bloom and grow. I have observed youth develop the ability to nourish and support one another. I have witnessed young people become a beautiful example of the healing power of community. This is why I love working with NextUp and Project Yoga Richmond, each session a child reminds me of how innately kind and mindful we are if given the space and gentle reminders of our true nature. I believe my experience of the breakout sessions is just a microcosm of the community NextUp and Project Yoga Richmond are creating for each school they collaborate with. And to me, that is truly a beautiful thing that I am proud to be a part of.
-PYR Ambassador, Syd Collier
Want a sneak peek into our ESOL yoga and mindfulness programs?
Today we restarted our programs for ESOL youth in partnership with the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce‘s Passport to Education program!
Make a donation today to support our community yoga and mindfulness programs like this one and help students find peace from within! Donate Now
Reflection from PYR Ambassador, Elisa Hayden: Mindfulness on the Mat at Boushall Middle School.
“Twice a week, my co-leader, Sara Lovelace, and I would walk into a middle school gym not sure what to expect. Each week, we introduced intentionally planned yoga practices, in hopes that these students, ages 11-13, would feel some relief from the everyday stress of life.
We worked a lot on self-reflection; on who we are as individuals, what makes us unique, how we react to situations, and how we can find calm in those moments. I was constantly amazed by how receptive the students were to this.
“Lay down and close your eyes. Think about something special in your life. Breathe in (1..2..3..) And breathe out. Then, (gong), then think about something you want to do in the future. – Mindfulness on the Mat Student
Sometimes, at the end of sessions, we don’t really know what impact the work will have on our students. We hope, as teachers, that they take the tools that they have learned and apply them to their lives every day. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s normal. However, this time around, we had the students write their own meditations based on their favorite parts of class and we were blown away. They ARE listening. They ARE getting it.
“Get in a comfortable area or position. Then relax your entire body. Dream that your back in your house or castle and then you see snow outside. You wish you can go outside but you have no winter clothes. So then you try to create your own winter clothes. You go outside and you breath the winter air.”- Mindfulness on the Mat Student
These small practices that seem simple to us as yogis have a much greater effect on our lives than I think any of us will ever know. I am so glad that I can share this with youth since their days bring more stress now than ever before. It is an honor and a privilege.
Mindfulness on the Mat Students, Boushall Middle School 2017
Support Yoga for Youth
It is hard for me to find words that describe how my heart felt after this past session of Mindfulness on the Mat at NextUp Boushall. I have always felt something pulling me towards working with youth and this session just proved why PYR is doing the work that it does.
I think one of the most vital parts of PYR is it’s heart, and the hearts of the ambassadors who make up the studio and outreach programs. It is incredibly powerful working with someone who has the exact same passion for this work, along with the same desire to make people, especially pre-teens, feel seen, valued, and heard.” – Elisa Hayden
“OK everybody start taking deep breaths…Then start to think about the best time ever. It might be a birthday party, it could be your friend came over. Whatever it is think about what made it the best time ever. Take deep breaths. Inhale…Exhale… Think about where the best time ever took place. It might have been at home, at school, at the park. Think about who was there with you. Take a deep breath…inhale…exhale. It might have been your mom, your dad, friend, enemy. Then start to think of what you did. It might have been played video games, ate pizza, played tag. Take deep breath…Inhale…exhale. Wiggle your finger and toes. Now stretch. Whenever you ready you can get up.” -Mindfulness on the Mat Student