What first drew me to 502 Power Yoga was the promise of community by co-owner Sarah Smith. Being of service to my community, be it local or global, is my driving force. Even greater is my desire to work with and for children. Since November, I have co-led the studio’s outreach classes at New Directions Housing Corporation’s after school programs.
The mission of 502 Power Yoga’s outreach program is to make yoga accessible to anyone throughout our Louisville community. The sessions with the children at New Directions give them an introduction to the yoga practice, and encourage them to work together in a community and to use their bodies and minds in a creative way. Most importantly, we have fun!
Each week we are greeted by a handful of smiling children rushing to grab their favorite color mat. Once they’ve got their mats down, it’s time to get moving. To get them in a flow, we start with Sun Salutations, and pretty soon everyone begs for a turn to be the teacher. They also try to show up their teachers by dropping back into wheel and then walking around the room. I don’t have to pretend that I’m impressed! After our flow, we move on to a variety of other activities. We may do a team building exercise that uses cooperation and have students reflect on the process. Once we did partner poses, and now the kids want to climb all over us each week. The kids also enjoy story time yoga, where they create their own poses while we read a story. We spend the final minutes of our time together in a guided meditation. Meditation is about as quiet as you would expect it to be with elementary age students, but the reflections on gratitude or happiness they share afterward are always thoughtful.
When I first started with these kids, many thought yoga was simply closing their eyes in Lotus or Tree and humming, but over the past few months they’ve been introduced to a practice where they can move, create, and have fun. From my experience, I have learned that yoga is a vehicle for patience, communication, laughter, and community. Even if the students are still working to remember what namaste means, I feel powerfully the connection that our 502 Power Yoga community has with the greater Louisville community in this outreach program.
Written By Laura Olinger