In thinking about the last year that I have spent at Street Yoga and the changes ahead for us both, I am inspired by the quote above by Linda Ellerbee. So much has changed for our organization, in our participants and our own lives, and so much will continue to change going forward. Sometimes that feels so scary, but as I look back on the changes, that sentiment that change is synonymous with hope feels so true.
As many of you know, I am pregnant and due any day now so my last day with Street Yoga will be August 1st. Now I stand at the edge of this leap into motherhood looking forward with great hope and excitement, and looking back with such affection and gratitude for all that I have experienced with and through Street Yoga. It is also through this very change that another Program Director will be hired by Street Yoga. That new person, with his or her set of experiences and unique spirit, will continue to dance with and shape the Street Yoga organization, continuing the empowerment and liberation that our programs foster.
I also continue to be inspired by the changes that our volunteer teachers, board members, staff, interns, and class participants create in their lives and in our community. Many of you took the risk to join Street Yoga in teaching yoga and mindfulness to children and youth for the first time. This is usually a scary initial experience filled with uncertainty about our ability to offer fun and safe classes that the youth will enjoy. My own experience as a new Street Yoga teacher paralleled the stories that were shared with me about the powerful transformation that occurs when children and youth take a risk to come to your class. I was repeatedly humbled by the insight and tenderness of the children and youth I taught and know others feel similarly changed by the participants they taught.
The number of times that I witnessed precious connection, acceptance, discovery, or peace after a youth or teacher took the risk to join the Street Yoga classes is too many to count. Similarly, I have witnessed core change in some of our Partner Site staff, some of whom have had significant doubts about whether or not children and youth will be able to handle the various activities in the Street Yoga classes without violence or other concerning responses. When children and youth surpass our expectations by connecting deeply with themselves, while frequently offering support and encouragement to others in the process, staff and teachers are also changed. Having come to Street Yoga myself as a former staff member at one of our Partner Sites (Outside In), I can keenly recall having similar fears about how different youth might handle class. When they surpassed my fears and expectations, I remember feeling hope and a deep sense of trust in the human capacity for resilience and healing- especially with Street Yoga’s inclusive approaches. This deep, shared appreciation for the capacity each of us has to find peace, wholeness, connection, acceptance, and wellness and to then create more of that in the world for others is the reason I came to Street Yoga.
Street Yoga continues to provide a fantastic opportunity for children, youth, and caregivers to come together with our volunteers to make precious connections and create community. I am sure I will be unpacking many more gifts from this experience for a long time after this transition, but for now I remain inspired, humbled, and changed by the precious work that Street Yoga offers to ours and other communities- and by the children, youth, and Partner Site staff who join us in this work.
Deep thanks to each of you, my fellow staff, our amazing board, our tremendous volunteers, and our inspiring participants and partners, as you have shaped my time here in many fun, creative, and loving ways. I have learned a great deal from you and will watch the work continue to unfold with affection and excitement while wishing you the very best in the adventures ahead. As Rachel Naomi Remen says, “Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.” Thank you for holding precious space for children, youth, and their caregivers to fully connect with and become their fullest and true selves. It is a key step in the movement toward greater and greater equality and wellness for all. It is also how each of us becomes fully who we are- what a precious circle in its abundance. Namaste!