I've been teaching yoga to children for nearly ten years, but it wasn't until I arrived in Peru in December of 2017 that I had the opportunity to bring yoga to children without parents. I had extremely heartfelt experiences visiting orphanages in Peru in the cities of Lima and Iquitos. Before arriving, I was told they had never received a yoga class before and upon entering the orphanages, the children ran over to me and were clinging on for hugs and human touch. They were surprised and delighted to be exposed to this new practice, but more excited to have someone new to bond with.
I taught the class in Spanish, yet some English vocabulary such as counting, names of postures, and basic phrases were thrown into the mix to encourage creative language learning. They also taught me some new Spanish vocabulary, as each country and even community tends to have their own dialect and slang words. Language exchange is one of my favorite things about traveling :)
Teaching classes onsite typically comes with its own set of challenges, distractions, and interruptions. A fight broke out amongst the teenage girls halfway through the class, a ball was kicked over the wall, and the snacks and drinks were distributed before the end of class. In spite of this, the yoga experiences were well received and the youth smiled through sun salutations and expressed this was the first time they had ever felt so relaxed, which in turn made me smile and relax into their environment, too.
In Iquitos, one of the teenage girls at the orphanage mentioned she had never stopped to feel her heartbeat before like we had in class, and expressed this was her favorite part of the yoga experience. Her comment has especially inspired me to consistently take intentional time to feel and listen to my heartbeat, too, as this is something I can easily take for granted.
Connecting with the participants is a rewarding aspect of teaching, and it is those moments after class when someone shares their experience with me that I am reminded I am also a student and they are my teacher, too.
I haven't taught yoga since my second trimester of being pregnant, and now I am 10 weeks postpartum with a beautiful baby girl and am continually growing into motherhood. I think back to the orphanages, and feel blessed I had the opportunity to share those sacred moments with youth who are without parents. I was amazed how vibrantly full of light and love they were, and I saw how they connected immediately with anyone who visited them with nurturing intentions.
Even though I have now personally experienced that the bond between a mother and a child is special and unique, I have also felt a similar bond with children and adults who are not of my kin. I believe that a special connection can be made with anyone, and it comes down to the power of intention and our own willingness to be open to receiving and giving love, no matter what the relationship technically is or isn't.
I feel being a mother is being a teacher and a student. My daughter teaches me something everyday, just like my yoga students have taught me something every class. I hope to one day take my daughter to visit these orphanages so she can also experience the pure joy these children express for merely being listened to, played with, and loved on.
Sending love and gratitude to all the children with and without parents in the world. You are our teachers just as much as we are yours!
Peace and blessings,
Yoga for Children with Trauma
The children entered the room timidly yet with a curiosity for what was about to happen. All was a mystery for none of them had experienced the nourishment and relaxation of a yoga class before, yet all of them had experienced violence and abuse. My heart melted as they expressed gratitude and smiling faces during this unique opportunity to explore the dynamic healing practice with other children from their surrounding communities of Totonicapan.
This small department is located near Quetzaltenango (Xela) in the western highlands of Guatemala. The villages within Totonicapan have high rates of poverty, malnutrition, and domestic violence and thus we are grateful to have connected with these organizations to offer support in the form of yoga for reducing stress and trauma for children who have been reported with cases of violence.
These yoga classes were organized with the local psychologist, Veronica, who regularly works with these children and set up an intentional altar before we arrived with flowers, candles and essential oils. We played relaxing music and created a calm, comfortable atmosphere for the children, something that may be very rare or unheard of for this population.
We started by holding hands in a circle and lit the candle to initiate the event thanking the ancestors for this opportunity and asking for strength and courage to move forward in life. We spoke about the specific day’s energies and themes in the Mayan Calendar. We discussed the importance of respect, compassion, and love for ourselves and for our families in collaboration with the philosophies of the local Mayan Cosmovision and Yoga.
Habla Yoga has been partnering with Kamalbe Spanish School and the Defensoria de La Mujer Indígena to provide accessible yoga classes for children who are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse in Totonicapan, Guatemala. The first class took place at the end of November in 2015, and our second class took place at the end of January 2016. We plan to continue offering monthly yoga classes for the children as part of their healing and recovery process from domestic violence and sexual abuse.
It is likely that women and children who experience domestic violence suffered trauma to varying degrees, and it is thought that yoga may help in the recovery process to feel safe in their bodies again by creating new, positive connections within themselves, families and communities. Currently there are limited yoga classes offered in Spanish, especially classes that are culturally sensitive for Indigenous participants who may be experiencing PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.
Thank you for supporting Habla Yoga and our efforts in offering bilingual, sensitive classes for individuals, families and children in rural communities in Guatemala.
Yoga para Niños con Trauma
Los niños entraron a la sala tímidamente aun curiosos por el evento que iba pasar. Todo fue misterioso para ellos porque ningún alumno había tenido una experiencia de relajación activa dentro de una clase de yoga antes, pero todos habían sido abusados fisicamente. Mi corazón se derritió cuando expresaron la gratitud con sus sonrisas durante esa oportunidad única para explorar la practica curativa y dinámica con otros niños de sus comunidades y vecinos de Totonicapan.
Este pequeño departamento esta ubicado cerca de Quetzaltenango (Xela) en las montañas del occidente en Guatemala. Las aldeas dentro de Totonicapan cuentan con altos índices de pobreza, desnutrición y violencia intrafamiliar. Por eso estamos agradecidos por habernos conectado con esas organizaciones para ofrecer el apoyo de yoga para reducir el estrés y el trauma para niños quienes han sido reportado con casos de violencia y abuso.
Veronica, la psicóloga local de Totonicapan, trabaja regularmente con esos niños y organiza estas clases de yoga. Ella hizo el altar intencional con flores, velas y aceites esenciales antes de llegar. Tocamos música relajante para crear un ambiente tranquilo y cómodo para los niños porque esto no es común para ellos.
Empezamos de pie en un circulo sosteniéndonos las manos de cada uno y pusimos una vela para iniciar el evento. Esto fue para agradecer los ancestros en esta oportunidad y les pedimos fuerza y coraje para seguir adelante en la vida. Hablamos sobre las energías y temas del día especifico en el calendario Maya. Discutimos la importancia del respeto, de la compasión y el amor para nuestros mismos y para nuestras familias en colaboración de los filosofías de la Cosmovision Maya y del Yoga.
Habla Yoga se ha conectado con organizaciones comunitarias como Kamalbe Spanish School y La Defensoria de La Mujer Indígena para ofrecer yoga accesible para los niños quienes son víctimas de la violencia domestica y abuso sexual en Totonicapan, Guatemala. La primera clase fue al final de Noviembre del 2015 y la segunda clase ocurrió durante los fines de Enero. Planeamos seguir dando clases regulares para los niños, como ser parte del proceso de su curación y recuperación de la violencia intrafamiliar y el abuso sexual.
Es posible que mujeres y niños quienes han tenido experiencias de violencia intrafamiliar sufren de algún trauma y se piensa que el yoga puede ayudar en la recuperación para sentirse cómodos con sus cuerpos nuevamente creando conexiones nuevas y positivas dentro de si mismos, familias y comunidades. Hay clases limitadas de Yoga en Español especialmente clases que sean culturalmente sensibles para participantes indigenas quienes tengan experiencias de trauma o de abuso.
Gracias por apoyar Habla Yoga y nuestros esfuerzos para ofrecer clases bilingües y sensibles para individuales, familias y niños en comunidades rurales de Guatemala.
Welcome - Bienvenidos - Utz A petik
Chichi, short for Chichicastenango, is an Indigenous Mayan town in the department of Quiche and consists of over 80 villages nestled within the western highlands of rural Guatemala. This pueblo is well known for its grand markets every Thursday and Sunday where locals, visitors and international travelers flock to sell, buy, eat and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Chichicastenango.
The market offers a large variety of beautiful traditional fabrics and local artisan goods along with plentiful fruits, vegetables, and local treats packed within what feels like never ending streets. The market is designed with cultural structures made from trees for the local vendors to exhibit their products and authentic cultural wear as well as offering street food galore.
Habla Yoga has partnered with Galeria Pop Wuj, a Mayan art gallery of traditional Mayan paintings, sculptures, and typical woven artisan goods by a local family. Artists and Mayan Spiritual Guides, the Leon Cortez brothers are carrying down their Mayan ancestral customs through traditional art and ceremonies to help preserve and promote their culture.
We have been teaching Habla Yoga classes for all ages on the gallery´s terraza roof-top including yoga in Spanish, Enlgish and Ki´che´ (local Mayan dialect) along with language and wellness activities. Habla Yoga and Galeria Pop Wuj are also collaborating with local schools to offer yoga, art and language classes and workshops during school breaks and after school extracurricular activities.
We are also initiating a recycling project with the local town committes to help with trash management, as the town has no proper trash programs and the market days produce a lot of trash that can be recycled, composted and properly disposed of instead of being thrown and left to contaminate the streets, rivers and fields.
We will be posting more about how you can help through our volunteer opportunities, fundraising efforts and Habla Yoga benefit classes and events to help reach our goals to build trash cans and depositing centers that are made of plastic bottles and inorganic trash. These will be implemented around the town and through out the villages along with local educators raising awareness about the health issues that come without a proper trash management and recycling program in the local and surrounding communities of Chichicastenango, Guatemala. Your support is greatly appreciated!
Thank you - Gracias - Maltiox
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Chichi es un pueblo Indígena Maya en el departamento del Quiché que consta de mas 80 cantones en las montañas del occidente del área rural de Guatemala. Su fama es el mercado majestuoso y colorido los días Jueves y Domingos donde los habitantes de esta región vienen a vender, comprar, y comer. Los extranjeros internacionales visitan para disfrutar el ambiente vibrante de Chichicastenango.
En el mercado la gente ofrece una gran variedad de tejidos típicos y productos artesanales locales. Ademas hay un centro comercial donde se puede encontrar específicamente verduras, frutas y dulces. Dentro del perímetro del mercado se instalan puestos con estructuras típicas hechas de palos de árbol donde cada artesano exhibe su producto y ellos ofrecen trajes típicos hecho de algodón y lana.
Habla Yoga esta colaborando y apoyando con Galería Pop Wuj para implementar clases comunitarias de yoga, lenguaje y lectura. La galería cuenta con pinturas Mayas, esculturas y tejidos típicos hecho por una familia local de Chichi. Artistas y guías espirituales Mayas, los hermanos Leon Cortez están manteniendo las raíces de los ancestros a través del arte y ceremonias tradicionales para preservar y promover su cultura.
Hemos estado enseñando clases de Habla Yoga para todas las edades en la terraza de la galería incluyendo yoga en Español, Ingles y algunas palabras en el dialecto local de Chichicastenango el idioma Ki´che´. También realizamos clases y actividades para el aprendizaje del idioma y bienestar. Habla Yoga y Galería Pop Wuj están colaborando para ofrecer mas clases y talleres de yoga, arte e idioma en las escuelas y centros comunitarios en Chichi.
Estamos iniciando un proyecto de reciclaje con los comités locales en Chichicastenango para implementar un programa donde se trata la manera de como concientizar a la población tanto niños como adultos para crear de un buen manejo de la basura. Se produce mucha basura durante los días de mercado y se puede aprovechar estos para reutilizarlos y con estos se aprovecharía como abono orgánico en vez de contaminar las calles, ríos y campos.
Estaremos informándoles acerca de las oportunidades de trabajos voluntarios, donaciones y eventos para beneficiar este proyecto para que podamos alcanzar las metas de implementación en el manejo de la basura. Se construirá basureros y centros de depósitos para los materiales de reciclaje y la basura orgánica e inorgánica. Ademas, habrá talleres y educación de salud ambiental en los pueblos y cantones de Chichicastenango para aprender mas sobre la importancia de la basura y el programa de reciclaje en este proyecto. Agradeceremos tu apoyo!
Thank you - Gracias - Maltiox
We are grateful for those in the Portland community who joined us for a bilingual yoga class followed by a public screening of Living on One Dollar at Portlandia International Language School. This documentary reveals the reality of extreme poverty and how Guatemalan families survive in rural villages on one dollar a day.
All the donations from this event went to support Progresa, a scholarship program helping Guatemalans attend university to pursue their dreams of earning a degree of their choice and then working toward sustainable development in their homeland.
This event was possible with the contributions from Trash for Peace and Portlandia Language School's Movie Fridays. The trailer of the film Living on One Dollar can be viewed here.
Check out Portlandia's Facebook Page to view photos from the event!
Truly so many positive things to say about the Día de los Muertos yoga community event last weekend at The Lotus Seed. Please accept our sincere thank you to everyone who contributed their energy, mindfulness and spirit to make this a successful and vibrant event!
The underlying theme of the class - Facing our Fears. With the spirit of Día de los Muertos and being in the Scorpio moon cycle, it's a prime time to look inside at even the darker and perhaps scarier parts of ourselves. I imagine scorpions aren't afraid of anything, and I think it provides us with an opportunity to take on this energy, too. Facing whatever it is we tend to hide from, and then by shining a light on what's been holding us back from further growth can then be seen for what it really is. Maybe the darkness isn't so scary anymore?
A few yogis and yoginis enjoyed the opportunity to paint their faces in celebration of Día de los Muertos. We flowed through the relaxing, dynamic flow confronting our fears, even if hiding behind the painted mask. Perhaps it is that once we are able to bring the unconscious parts of ourselves into our awareness, we then have the power to see things with a new perspective. The light we shine to our dark areas can then be released as we are able to move into new, fresh spaces.
Maybe we can thank death for allowing us to live more freely? Facing our fears perhaps means letting go of parts of ourselves, those parts that can die off, so we can continue growing more into our light, moving forward, and having the courage to confront reality head on... with or without our Day of the Dead painted mask!