Happy December!

Here’s a question for you: What is the most important part of your yoga practice?  

Is it practicing the poses?  Maintaining a consistent deep breath? For Street Yoga volunteer instructor Ivy Katz it’s service: service to others as her way of making a difference to the world.

There are many ways to serve and in December one of the most helpful ways to help youth is to support our annual CAMPAIGN FOR KIDS and join Ivy and all of us at our NEW YEARS DAY 108 SUN SALUTATIONS. It’s that time of year for all of us to show up and support yoga for youth. Please read the interview to see how Ivy along with Street Yoga is making that difference!

Ivy, how is yoga helping the teen girls you work with?

Ivy Katz, volunteer teacher at Rosemont Treatment Center

“These are kids who have failed in every other program, who are living at the highest level of lockdown.  The yoga classes are optional, but the girls choose to show up Initially, they may get discouraged or aren’t nice to each other, but through yoga, they become more compassionate to each other and to themselves.

“[When finishing the program] students are invited to lead a class.  I was surprised recently when a departing student offered a class of breathing and meditation.  She told the other girls, ‘This may seem a little strange but I just want you to sit here and find your center.  That’s all you have to do right now.’  It was so refreshing to see a girl coming from trauma and abuse learning how she can heal, and how she can share that healing with others!

“That girl discovered yogic service, and that’s the most important part of this practice for me-being of service to others.”

How have you grown by being a Street Yoga teacher?

Ivy Katz on the boardwalk

“What I get from the experience is being able to be fully present. Maybe there are kids who are new and defiant and challenging. That stirs up difficult feelings.  I get to notice my feelings and choose how I react to them.  If I’m in a challenging yoga pose in my own practice, I learn how to breathe through it, but the goal is to take that off the mat and apply it to the world.”

Do you have a specific plan for how you’re going to teach?

  “How I lead the class depends on where the kids are at that day, so I enter each session with a theme but no specific plan.  It’s helped me have the confidence that I have the tools to respond to the situation and co-create something really useful, and that’s carried over to life-the ability to be fully present without an agenda and engage in what’s going to happen and letting it happen.

What else do the girls get out of doing street yoga?

“So many of these kids feel like everything’s been taken away from them.  Yoga is something they can take with them that no one can ever take away.

“They get a chance to form healthy relationships.  I’ve seen that the yoga classes and the practice help kids feel connected to each other, that they’re doing something together, and they bond because of it.  They build a strong community and culture and help each other.  A relationship gets built from that.

“Rosemont Staff have approached me to thank me for the class.  It reinforces how much I believe in yoga.  It integrates deeply with the work I do as a therapist, and it supports the work of the other professional caregivers.”