by Eve Chalom (read more from Eve on her blog)
Dance Movement Therapy starts with the base idea that the body and mind are one. “Body movement reflects inner emotional states and changes in movement behavior can lead to changes in the psyche. . .Helping individuals to regain a sense of wholeness by experiencing the fundamental unity of body, mind, and spirit is the ultimate goal of dance movement therapy” (Dance Movement Therapy, a healing art by Fran Levy, pg 1).
What I often find is that people with healthy relationships to themselves and others have a naturally comfortable interaction and communication between their conscious and their unconscious mind. There are different parts of the brain that interact, and some of what we do and think and feel is conscious, and some is unconscious. With people who have healthy relationships, the unconscious and conscious parts of the brain are communicating all the time and working together well, and not at odds with each other. Where there are dysfunctional relationships, or what I see as dysfunctional, the conscious and unconscious parts of the brain/mind have a very different relationship. It is oppositional, or extremely disconnected, and the flow of communicating between the two is disrupted for some reason. Dance movement therapy is so powerful because it works different parts of the brain at the same time, and works to improve the communication between the conscious and the unconscious parts of the brain/mind. This has a positive effect on the person’s relationship with him or herself, and with their relationships with other people. Continue reading “Guest Post: How does Dance Movement Therapy work?”
Describe your work in yoga service: I volunteer teach yoga at KAN-WIN, Cook County Department of Corrections, and at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. KAN-WIN is a Korean women’s domestic violence center where I teach to staff and survivors. I’ve volunteered there for over 15 years in different roles and as a yoga instructor for three years. At the Department of Corrections, I teach pre-natal yoga to inmates who are a part of the Cook County Sheriff’s Women’s Justice Program and have taught there for five years. As soon as my background check is cleared, I begin teaching at the juvenile detention center.
What role has yoga played in your own life? Yoga has changed my life for the best by giving me the tools to integrate more into me. Yoga’s influenced me to be more joyful and authentic, gifts that I share when I teach.
What’s the most rewarding part of your work? I’m endlessly fulfilled when I teach to all my clients! #grateful.
Are there any poses or practices you find especially helpful to teach? Breath awareness is most helpful.
What practical advice or resources would you share with others who’d like to get involved in similar work? Be authentic in who and where you want to teach. When serving others also serves you, volunteering elevates everyone!
Read more about Mia and her work at miaparkyoga.com.
Who do you work with? How did you get involved? I volunteer teach and do part time development work for Yoga Behind Bars, a Seattle based nonprofit that shares 25 weekly yoga and meditation classes to men, women, and youth in 12 facilities around Washington State. I originally heard about the organization from another yoga teacher friend who raved about their trauma-informed teacher training. One thing I have developed in my personal practice is a sense of discipline and integrity. I feel the call to do social justice work in order to live in integrity with my principles. It just didn’t feel quite right to teach at a studio to an already privileged population, though I know we are all fighting our own battles, and we can all benefit from the healing aspects of the practice. I wanted to go deeper, I wanted to work with people who may not otherwise have access. When I moved to Seattle I knew I had to get involved with an organization that combines two of my biggest passions. I now teach incarcerated teenage girls and work at Yoga Behind Bars sharing the stories of our students and securing funding to continue and expand our programs. Continue reading “Yoga Service Interview: Celina with Yoga Behind Bars”
Organization: Liberation Prison Yoga
Share Your Practice: Describe your involvement in yoga service. How did you get involved?
Anneke Lucas: I head Liberation Prison Yoga, a non-profit organization in New York bringing yoga and meditation to the incarcerated populations. I teach my own regular classes at the Rikers Island Jail Complex and in the prison, and train our volunteers in the six facilities where we are currently active.
SYP: What role has yoga played in your own life?
AL: Yoga has been an essential part of my own healing from physical and emotional trauma. The meditation practice has offered the greatest possible context in which to view my traumatic past, enabling me to take responsibility for my life and thrive.
SYP: Describe a rewarding situation in your yoga service work: Continue reading “Yoga Service Interview: Anneke Lucas”
Share Your Practice: What’s your involvement in yoga service?
Human Kindness Foundation: Since the early 70s, our Prison-Ashram Project has been encouraging people who are incarcerated to practice yoga and meditation. Our book, We’re All Doing Time, has a brief but powerful section of yoga practices, with illustrated instruction, so that people who don’t have access to a teacher can do yoga.
SYP: Describe a rewarding situation from your yoga service work:
HKF: Recently, HKF’s staff (Sita and Catherine) have been offering just a few minutes of yoga practice during a Mindfulness group in a maximum security prison. We are limited by a crowded room and strict rules on what is “appropriate” behavior, so we only do standing poses. The men in the group love the practice! Some have said that practicing yoga is the only time they feel any sense of quiet and ability to focus. We focus on breathing: simply raising and lowering our arms with the breathe is calming for these men whose lives are full of stress and negativity.
SYP: What practical advice or resources would you share with others who’d like to get involved in similar work?
HKF: This prison volunteer guide has some helpful information for anyone who wants to begin working inside a prison or jail. (If the link doesn’t work, find it on our website, under “links.”)
SYP: Thanks for sharing your insight in this interview and all the best with your work!
Share Your Practice will feature interviews with teachers involved in yoga service. Find my own interview below! If you’d like to complete an online interview, fill in your answers here.
How did you get involved in yoga service? What do you do?
Currently, I maintain this website …and teach two free community classes in Chicago neighborhoods without much local yoga available.
I got involved in yoga service before I became a teacher – I worked for a non-profit in the field. I helped manage volunteer teachers, non-teacher volunteers, and set up new yoga programs on site at social service facilities. I also attended various trauma-sensitive yoga trainings. I participated classes as an “understudy” – there to assist the teacher with any issues that arose during class to allow them to continue teaching.
Once I enrolled in teacher training I started teaching yoga to my running group, which included some members who lived in a residential homeless shelter. Now I teach two weekly classes at non-profit organizations – they are free and located in neighborhoods that don’t have many other opportunities for yoga available. I don’t ask an abundance of questions and I don’t expect that my students are necessarily trauma survivors, but living in a neighborhood where violence is a concern, raising children there, and potentially facing financial concerns are definitely highly stressful issues to deal with. Continue reading “Yoga Service Interview: Kate”
Do you have experience in yoga service? Participate in an online interview here to share!