This month, April 27-29, 2012 will bring Street Yoga to Colorado for the very first time! Candace, one of our dedicated volunteer yoga teachers taught yoga for several months in Denver, and felt the timing was perfect for us to bring our unique experience within the realms of social work and yoga instruction. She introduced us to Christen Bakken, founder of Yoga for Young Warriors, and our partnership began!
Yoga for Young Warriors gives kids an opportunity to explore yoga in order to “Enlighten Minds, Open Hearts and Empower Kids” and the founder, Christen, dedicates much of her life to guiding children.
In an effort to find my dreams, I have gone in two different directions in my adult life. My life has always been filled with children. At a very young age, I began helping at my church’s vacation bible school and nursery. At 16, I traveled to New Hampshire to begin working with kids at Camp Calumet. I spent one summer as a camp director for South Suburban Recreation Center. When applying for school, I knew I would end up working with children and applied for the Elementary Education programs at Colorado schools. Once I began college at the University of Colorado, I sought out preschools looking for help and then spent my extra hours working for TinyMinders and Boulder Day Nursery. For the past few years I have taught elementary school north of Denver. Even though I took great pleasure in watching the lightbulb go off in a child’s head and joy fill their eyes, I spent the remainder of my day searching out my yoga practice.
Yoga for Young Warriors has been the natural integration of her passion for helping children and her devotion to yoga.
The organization takes its name from the Warrior poses central to many practices. In yoga there are three warrior postures that are often the foundation of a flow practice. They are challenging postures, but the beauty of the postures are found through relaxation. A young warrior is going to find the same strength in a class. Children often test boundaries during physical activities, sometimes resulting in bumped heads or hurt feelings.
In a Yoga for Young Warriors practice, students will learn to play while building patience and strength by staying calm, a skill that will come in handy during other activities. Yoga is beneficial for everyone and I am excited to be offering it to the “young ones.”
Additionally, Street Yoga is partnering with Yoga for the People, a grassroots volunteer-run organization in Denver, CO that works to give at-risk communities the tools the create a sustainable Yoga practice. They build bridges between Yoga teacher and health and human service providers, acting as a nexus between those who want to spread yogic practices and more hidden groups. In addition to forming these connections and raising money to help building programs, Yoga for the People also offers multiple workshops during the year about how to generalize yoga classes to all populations.
YFP was founded in 2006 to foster wellness for all communities by providing quality, accessible, community-centered yoga programs and trainings.
Yoga For the People believes that when people practice yoga, they choose balanced, joyous, nourishing and loving lives.
By 2011, Yoga for the People provided agency- and community-based classes for partner nonprofit organizations and low-income communities, serving 2,208 people who could benefit from yoga but may not have equal access.
Holly Rom, a Yoga for the People volunteer teacher shares:
Being a teacher through Yoga for the People has been a great experience. Right now, I’m teaching at the South Lincoln Bridge Project with 3rd to 5th graders and loving it! It has been interesting to start teaching there because I actually live in the neighborhood. I really feel like I am not just helping Denver, but a community I am a part of.
The kids, of course, have a lot of energy and show it in class, but many also have a very soft side and have gotten into this “yoga thing.” They ask a lot of questions, and most ask for help in many of the postures. The challenging part is that the kids are only around for an hour at a time, once a week, so it is hard to always have their focus. However, many successes have seemed to pop out as well.
I have about 11 completely regular kids, and they are bringing friends to try it as well. The kids favorite game is the “quiet game” and we play it at the end of class . . . It is a way they can understand what so many adults know as Savasana.