Do Something

Do Something

A letter on behalf of Sue Agee:

 “Do something. Just do something.”

-Dr. Maya Angelou

Join me today by making a gift to Project Yoga Richmond.

I may not be able to change the world by myself, but I can certainly start with myself, my family, and my community here in Richmond. Yoga and mindfulness practices provide a way to make a difference within myself and my community. You, too, can make a difference.

As a nurse, a yoga teacher, and a perpetual student of yoga, I have seen and experienced the impact the practice makes in my life and in so many others. It is called yoga “practice” to encourage applying the practice beyond the yoga mat and into your daily life. When applying the principles of yoga into your life, you truly see the gifts yoga offers.

Over the years, I have served in almost every role at Project Yoga Richmond: student, volunteer, ambassador, and board member. I have remained dedicated to PYR because I believe everyone deserves access to these timeless teachings of yoga. Project Yoga Richmond opens the door to everyone. We enable folks who would not be able to have a budget for Yoga and Mindfulness classes to have low cost or no cost yoga available to them. Join me in creating greater access to yoga by making a gift to Project Yoga Richmond today.

PYR Program for ESOL Students

We teach ancient and simple techniques to help ease stress, calm the mind, strengthen the body, increase flexibility, reclaim balance, and improve focus. Calming breathing techniques and guided movement remind us that we are capable of great kindness and have more to offer fellow humankind. You can offer kindness to yourself and your community by giving the gift of yoga today.

Project Yoga Richmond supports these benefits for all through our pay-what-you-can studio and community partnership programs across the Greater Richmond Region. PYR provides real tools for real practice to real lives. There are so many ways that you can help – donate, take a workshop, join an ongoing class, help support our work in the community, share your talents, ease your mind and body, feel the love.  Today I am asking you to consider making a gift to Project Yoga Richmond. With your help we can increase access to yoga for all. 

Be kind to yourself and kind to others. Do something, just do something.

Much love to you,
Sue Agee, RN, E-RYT500
PYR Ambassador, former Board Member, Yoga Teacher, and Volunteer

4 Ways Trauma Informed Yoga Supports Students

Yoga provides a supportive space to reconnect with the body, as a mind-body disconnect is often a result of traumatic experiences.  Yoga is grounding and allows practitioners a framework to practice making space from traumatic thoughts, all the while exposing folks to their present moment experience.

Trauma informed yoga empowers students with knowledge and choice. Here are 4 ways trauma-informed classes support students!

  1. Provides a lot of information about the function of each posture
  2. Language used during class is invitational and as inclusive as possible
  3. Many options are provided so that each practitioner can discover their edge appropriately, with the right amount of challenge and comfort
  4. Emphasizes the therapeutic aspects of asana
Everyone could benefit from a trauma-informed yoga class as it offers a welcoming and empowering space to explore the body, breath, mind, emotions!

Join us at Saturday Salutations at the VMFA on September 9 at 9am with Izzy Shurte as we highlight and support our Trauma-Informed Yoga Outreach programs. You can also join us every other Sunday from 12:30-1:30pm for Love Your Body: Yoga for Women to experience trauma-informed techniques for yourself!

3 Ways Yoga Helps Direct Support Staff

In order to take care of others, we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. By offering trauma-informed yoga for staff who support populations in need, we were able to provide self-care and self-regulation tools to support building resilience in our community. This not only offers the tools to staff but provides them with the skill sets to offer basic self-care practices to the populations they work with as well. 

Safe Harbor Shelter provides support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence to overcome their crisis and to transform their lives. Staff who directly work with those who have experienced trauma have an increased likelihood of:

  • Secondary traumatic stress, also known as compassion fatigue
    • Compassion fatigue can lead to vicarious traumatization which can be common among caregivers after constant exposure to the trauma of others
  • Burnout
    • Enhanced by the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion due to chronic work-related stress

These effects make it challenging to provide high-quality care to patients and may result in a high level of staff turnover. In order to prevent this from happening, Safe Harbor reached out to Project Yoga Richmond to provide meditation and self-care practices for staff. Project Yoga Richmond began offering yoga to the Direct Support Staff at Safe Harbour in September of 2015.Safe Harbor had a few goals for offering yoga and meditation to the staff in order to provide the best care possible. Each month, Project Yoga Richmond provides the space to encourage self-care and the tools to develop sensory awareness and self-regulation and to ground and center the team.  

Working with members of the community who have experienced and/or witnessed significant trauma, direct staff are especially at risk for compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and burn out.  It’s the organization’s goal to be intentional and proactive to avoid said issues by implementing a yoga and meditation program into the work week.

Two tips for teaching direct support staff:
  1. Gentle, trauma-sensitive movement using the support of the chair
    • This teaching style offers staff the tools to use these techniques at their desks when needed, making yoga and meditation accessible in a hectic work environment.
  2. Breathing techniques and meditation for staff to ground and center
    • The techniques develop self-regulation and build resilience.
 “The sessions really impact our day and get us in a good headspace, especially since Wednesday tend to be hectic around here.”
– Safe Harbor Staff Member
3 Ways Self-Care Practices Benefits Staff at Safe Harbor:
  1. General Wellness is provided as staff are empowered to practice yoga and meditation techniques and directly experience the benefits
  2. Organizational Wellness is demonstrated as staff is encouraged to create time and space for self-care practices during their work day and providing a community of support at work for those practices
  3. Education around the impacts of working with people who have experienced trauma is provided, as a well as a means of coping with the impacts

Help us support those who support others in your community by signing up and paying-what-you-can for Saturday Salutations at the VMFA highlighting Yoga for Direct Support Staff with Amy Taylor on June 10!

Pay-what-you-can for Saturday Salutations to help us make $900 to support yoga and mindfulness outreach programs like this across the Greater Richmond Region!
Works Cited

Menschner, Center Christopher, and Alexandra Maul. “Strategies for Encouraging Staff Wellness in Trauma-Informed Organizations.” Strategies for Encouraging Staff Wellness in Trauma-Informed Organizations (n.d.): n. pag. Center for Health Care Strategies. Web.

Can Acro Yoga Help Build Trust?

We believe yoga has the power to heal and strengthen individuals and in turn, transform whole communities. We work hard to increase access to yoga because we see this transformation on a daily basis through our students. We are honored that one of our student’s, Julia Bardof, took the time to share a part of her story with us and reflected on the ways acro yoga has changed her life.

“To say yoga has changed my life is an understatement. Yoga, Acro Yoga, and Thai medicine are now intertwined parts of my being. They have all played an integral part of my healing process on so many levels. Yoga has physically helped my symptoms from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, while mentally and emotionally helping me find more balance and peace.

When reflecting on the ways Acro Yoga has transformed my life, trust is one of the first words that come to mind. Acro Yoga provides a space for me to trust myself to get out of my own head and allow movement to happen. To trust another human to suspend me in the air, to fully support another human-being them safely to the ground, trusting the spotter has your back, should something go awry.

The initial trusting of each other’s strengths is one thing, but trusting another human on a deeper level, that takes time to cultivate. To truly connect with another human in that moment to create a fluid movement together. To know that you are not alone. This is where Acro changes lives. To me, this practice goes much deeper than the physical. Unfortunate trauma in my earlier years, left me quite guarded, especially regarding physical touch and overall social anxiety. This practice just continues to help breakdown barriers.

None of these amazing things could happen without a group of loving, welcoming, individuals who’ve also gone through their struggles, who have experienced the medicine of physical touch and true connection.  Individuals who have chosen to open up and allow for change and healing to occur together. The Acro Yoga Richmond community sparks so much love, joy, and compassion. I feel blessed to be a part of it.”

Through acro yoga, we hope to provide a place for you to heal, trust, and support one another. Join us this Sunday, February 19 and Acro Yoga 101 with Kim Catley from 2-4:30 pm! If this practice is new to you, do not fear, all are welcome and we have this blog post for you to help answer any questions!

 

Photography: Kaiya Healing Arts

Love YOUR Body

Love YOUR Body

Written by PYR Student Erin Jenkins

Can I be honest with you? When I saw this photo for the first time, over a year ago, I thought “Wow, I look horrible, my god.” But I immediately caught myself and remembered the love that was exchanged that day, in the middle of a parking lot. My body-type may not be what you picture when you think of a yogi, but don’t be fooled. Here’s my story of inclusion and discovering that yoga is for all bodies.

I started doing yoga at PYR in the winter. By the time Spring came around I was feeling pretty confident in my practice. Around this time, I heard about the Yoga Flash Mob PYR was holding in Manchester. I, pretty reluctantly, talked myself into doing yoga in front of hundreds of strangers. The “class” was led by Alec Abbott, and he was so kind and funny that I felt compelled to sit up front.

I talked myself into it, and I’m so happy I did, that this photo exists, and that it will inspire people to do yoga. I couldn’t hold the pose, so my yoga teacher grabbed my hand to stabilize me, and we all ended up grabbing hands. It was a beautiful gesture and I’ll never, ever forget it.

At this moment, I knew that PYR was a special place. This gesture has had a huge impact on me, it has inspired me to continue my path of self-care through movement, it opened me up to try new things, and has always reminded me of the power of inclusion and safe spaces. Yoga is for all bodies, yoga is for all abilities, and sharing your practice is powerful.

Big bodies are often erased from the yoga scene, and that is a terrible thing. Bodies need movement, minds need challenges, and our hearts need new experiences. I’m challenging you to get out there and put yourself in a new experience, and don’t ever, ever feel limited by your size.

 

 

Show your body some love by joining us at our pay-what-you-can studio for Love Your Body: Yoga for Women on select Sundays each month. Visit our class schedule for details!

Special thank you to McAbbott Studios for sharing their fantastic photography with us!

Yoga for Juvenile Justice

Every day we are reminded of how amazing our Ambassadors are and the life-changing ways in which they are impacting our community. Today, it was a pleasure to wake up and read this wonderful testimonial written by PYR Ambassador, Ashley Williams, who is currently getting her MS in Yoga Therapy at the Maryland Institue of Integrative Health.Take a moment to read what she has to say, and hear why this week’s Saturday Salutations at the VMFA is so close to her heart!

“In 2013, as an employee at the VA Department of Juvenile Justice, I reached out to Project Yoga Richmond to teach the young men and women at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center (BAJCC). The request was enthusiastically welcomed and PYR placed two Ambassadors and yoga props at BAJCC to teach two weekly classes. After becoming a yoga teacher in 2014, I began to offer yoga alongside PYR. In 2015, I became a PYR Ambassador and began to teach at BAJCC every week and it is undoubtedly one of the things that I look forward to doing. Each week, I am honored to teach the young men and women at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center, and each week I am amazed and humbled by their strength, resilience, curiosity and authenticity as they show up on their mat to breathe, move and release.

Last week, I ran into one of my BAJCC students at the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Community Resilience Summit, and she immediately introduced me to her counselor, stating, “This is Ms. Ashley, the one that I told you taught me yoga and meditation at Bon Air. She taught me how to breathe through my anger.” Once again, I was reminded of the power of yoga.

Join me on this Saturday, August 13 at 9:00 am for Saturday Salutations at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) as I lead a practice and highlight PYR’s community outreach program at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center. It’s an honor to serve as a PYR Ambassador and be a part of this LOVE movement! See you on Saturday! Much Love, Folks! ‪#‎ProjectYogaRichmond‬‪#‎saturdaysalutations‬ ‪#‎yoga‬ ‪#‎community‬ ‪#‎meditation‬ ‪#‎rvayoga‬‪#‎outdooryoga‬ ✌️❤️☀️ “

Ashley, it is an honor to know you and to share your wisdom and knowledge with the community. When you save your spot and sign up for Saturday Salutations at the VMFA, you are supporting PYR’s movement to create access to yoga in our community. So come, unroll your mat, move with us, and see the ways your practice is stimulating change in our community!

 

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