Back in January, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a retreat for a local nonprofit organization.
I was asked to lead a yoga session and a journaling session. My classes were the first of the retreat, so I had the daunting and special task of setting the tone.
The nonprofit organization coordinates its members to work with youth throughout the San Luis Valley. Most of the members are in different schools throughout the area and they work with children of all ages.
At this point in the year, the members are feeling, perhaps, a little tired and discouraged, so the retreat is designed to reinvigorate and refocus them.
Yoga is always a good idea, and, being a writer and perpetual journaler, I don’t think you can go wrong with writing to reconnect with your purpose and find some inspiration.
We started with some breathing and centering, and went through a simple asana (posture) sequence. One thing I always try to be conscious of when planning a yoga practice is the different levels of mobility, experience, and comfort with group exercise that we might have in the group. I had some chair postures prepared, and always offer modifications.
After asana and breathing, the participants were ready for lunch. We all ate together, and then gathered together again to write.
I planned several writing exercises to engage the participants, and to encourage them to tap into their sense of purpose, compassion, and empathy as I had been asked to do by the retreat leader.
For me, writing is a way to express oneself and to connect with others, but it is also a powerful tool of self-discovery. When we meditate, when we become embodied, we often find ourselves writing things we didn’t know were in us, because we’ve tapped into our hearts and not just our heads. Writing is a highly embodied practice, and not as much of an intellectual practice as we have often been taught to believe it is.
My writing prompts were designed to help the participants think about the ways they can be in community with each other, and work together, while still respecting each other’s unique needs and strengths. I encouraged them to think, not about what they wanted the people around them to accept, but to listen for what it is the people around them need. Often, what we have to offer and what others need do actually line up, but in ways that are different from what we expected.
I truly enjoyed this session with these young people, and hope I inspired them to return to their schools with a renewed sense of purpose and curiosity.
If your organization is interested in yoga or writing sessions, please reach out to me! I’d love to talk with you and make a plan that suits your needs.