According to the Yoga Sutras, yoga should be easeful and restful. There is a certain awareness of ease that comes after any big release, yet the contents of that release are often fraught with tension, fear, tightness and ego. It was not part of my upbringing to be aware of these feelings in myself without judgment and repression. If things didn’t feel right, they were buried in my body while my head kept itself busy with other things.
A group of yoga students gather on a Thursday morning across a crowded play yard. Words of welcome and handshakes are exchanged, mats are rolled out and shoes are removed. As the teacher begins to speak, attention is given. Breath is encouraged and movement begins. Simple and dynamic all in one, a slow Hatha practice is what these yogis seek and will receive.
“Experience resides in the cells.” Angel Kyodo Williams
This statement slapped me in the face. As a yoga instructor this information is not new knowledge to me, nor is it something I have not said myself multiple times. Yet on the first day of the Empowered Youth Initiative training it resonated with me in a much more powerful way.
As I lay in bed reflecting back on my first full day at the Off the Mat, Into the World Empowered Youth Initiative training, where the day was spent discussing the importance of language, I’m left feeling speechless. Not wanting to say the wrong words. Evoke negative emotions in others. Do harm. It’s easy to become overwhelmed the more you learn.
“We talked about empowering the youth…. But who really empowered who?”
In this 7 day journey hitting the streets in Los Angeles, we talked about empowering the youth, we met with amazing souls who had lived it first-hand in Watts, in The Projects, witness to the Bloods & the Crips, we met with amazing leaders who had been huge contributors to the success of gangs and major drug deals, and we had met with young teens who grew up in non-affluent neighborhoods who were now using their voice to make a difference.