Service takes many forms. Rob Schware, co-founder and director of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, has been exploring the ways we show up to serve in a series of interviews on The Huffington Post. As his wide-ranging interviews demonstrate, yoga is turning up in addiction centres, eating disorder clinics, prisons and cancer wards.
Yoga service providers and teachers are getting organized, sharing resources, strategizing for effective self-care and campaigning to become part of the mainstream health system. They’re creating non-profits, training others and leading workshops around the continent. They’re offering yoga as a service with hearts full of humility and awareness.
Take a look at Schware’s series on the Omega Institute website. Here are a few little soundbites of inspiration from some of the leaders in the burgeoning field of yoga service:
“Inpatient treatment gave me the skills to survive, but yoga gave me the skill to thrive. I think yoga can be a game-changer in eating disorder treatment because it provides a safe way for patients to begin to explore their body and its sensations again. It helps patients rebuild a conscious connection between mind and body, which is so often severed in the heat of an eating disorder. What does hunger feel like? What does my body do when it is experiencing fear or frustration? How do I respond when I’m faced with a challenging situation, and what tools do I have access to right now (breath, focus, and self-soothing) to be with these emotions rather than trying to starve them away?”
“The emotional connection for yoga service is the human connection. Sharing yoga is another way of saying, “I love you,” to total strangers. We’re using our bodies to find that common ground and language of love, and nothing is lost in translation. I hear, “I love you back,” with every breath I’ve shared with these students. So by the end of class, something is different. We’re no longer strangers. We see that despite any differences, we’re just the same. We’re all just one decision, or just one situation from being one another. Forget glass half-full or half-empty—we’ve got a glass, and we’re raising it up.”
“For me, asana, pranayama, chanting, meditation, and sangha (community) are all tools for deeper connection and integration of body, energy, intellect, behavior, and heart. When those begin to align, my experience is that a shift occurs that orients every dimension of my being toward a state of balance and wholeness. Often even a single shift in perspective, muscular/skeletal alignment, energy expansion or contraction, behavior, or connection will realign everything, internally and often externally as well. In that experience, I recognize that there really is no separation between mind and body, heaven and earth, or me and you. From that place, giving to and receiving from others is organic.”
Chelsea Roff, Jasmine Cherazi and Nikki Myers will all be present at the 3rd annual Yoga Service Conference, May 16 – 18 at the Omega Institute.
Featured image via eatbreathethrive.com