Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bring Yoga to the Youth of the Inner-City!

            Three years ago I came back home to Philadelphia, PA to work with my father’s most beloved NPO.  The Boys and Girls Club of America is a nationwide Non-Profit Organization designed to offer a place for inner city kids to spend their time after school and over the summer in a supportive educational environment.  The children range in age from 3 to 15 years old.
            At first it was my intention to work as a camp counselor with the children wherever I was needed.  I drove the 28 hours from Boulder, CO back to Philly in anticipation and filled with excitement at the prospect of being of service.  I was fully ready to practice Seva (selfless service).
            Later that week I was sitting in a coffee shop at 13th and Pine and I noticed a blurb about yoga for children on a discarded newspaper clipping.  I had one of those “ahah moments” we’re all so fond of.  How about offering yoga to inner city kids? It made perfect sense.  Since the Boys and Girls Club was offering a positive place for kids why not offer the kids a positive place within themselves?
            I was, needless to say, stoked. Karma yoga right in my own back yard!  I went through all the necessary channels and within a few weeks arrived at the Germantown chapter of Boys and Girls to begin offering the kids some yoga.  It was definitely difficult at first, especially to gain their trust.  However, by showing up consistently and offering reliable grown-up energy they came to soften to my offering. 
            I’ll never forget the look on seven year old Diamond’s face when she told me, eyes wide, that the breath work I had taught them made her “not mad anymore sometimes.” It is through this first hand experience that I can say without doubt that Yoga is truly a gift that can be given to anyone. 
            Further, the yoga community is a gift that keeps giving whenever we ask.
            This past winter when I relocated to Philadelphia officially I was lucky enough to meet two incredible women, Julie and Erica, who own Jai Studio on the mainline.  Each month they throw a “Chant, Chai & Charity” kirtan designed to raise funds for a variety of worthy causes.  I was looking at the time to help the Boys and Girls Club.  My father’s passion very much rubbed off on me.  It happened that in January after the monthly kirtan was over they announced that the February slot had opened up if anyone had an organization or cause they were particularly invested in.  I jumped at the chance to get them on board with Boys and Girls.  They were kind and it worked out.  A month later we all gathered to raise our voices, vibrations and funds in service of the Boys and Girls Club of America.
            Why do I share this with you?   Because I’m delighted to report that yoga both on and off the mat will always serve us or those we wish to serve so long as we put the intention out there.

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