Representing YIS and Namastadium

On Saturday, March 6th, hundreds of yogis came together for a historic event – practicing in Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills, with all proceeds going to Women’s and Children’s Hospital. I was there with Yogis in Service. We had dreamed, planned; we even had a countdown going, and today was finally the day! Armed with awesome YIS t-shirts, generously donated yoga mats, and full, excited hearts, our troops marched right into the stadium and firmly took our place on the turf that we’d only seen on TV.

1795773_769092539876684_4950996951688873518_nRight away, I noticed something. It didn’t matter if you arrived in a Ferrari or a bus. Your age wasn’t a concern (people of all ages took naps on their mats, a nice change of pace from the practice I’m so used to). Your size, the color of your skin, your sexual orientation…none of that matters on the mat. In an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people, our little yogis found their inner warrior and thrived. Wherever they took their mats, they had a home, a community. I’d like to think the YIS instructors had a part in this, but really, the kids did the work. They showed up, in every sense of the phrase. And together, we embraced a beautiful day, a heart-opening practice, and – most importantly – we embraced each other.

1939721_708723052570915_1156914414132421695_nIt’s easy to think of yoga as a way to look more toned in a bikini, (you usually do anyway), or just really great physical exercise, (which it is).
But that day, hopefully, everyone felt the same euphoria I did. The sense of community. The unity. The oneness. The true meaning of the word “yoga.” YIS is yoga. Sometimes, the kids get it way more than the teachers.

11266503_769946879791250_2288656103019992916_nThey’ve taught me that the best way to truly improve your practice is not obsessing over your handstand or making sure your core is always engaged. The way to be your best yogi, and best human, and best part of this universe, is to practice off your mat.

Endure when things get tough. Life can be a real chair pose sometimes, and the kids in YIS know that better than almost anyone – seriously, we have a particular student who lets the entire East Side know how much he hates chair, every single time it is asked of him. They’re honest, and they’ll tell it like it is, but they grit their teeth and dig the f in. Checking out is easy when you are surrounded by unemployment, poverty, and violence. I know, in my bones, that yoga helps these kids check back in. To know their bodies and minds are capable of doing the seemingly impossible. As teachers, we see this, and we are inspired. We try to give them as much hope and courage as they give to us. So give to others, even if you don’t feel like you have a lot to give. You do. You really do.

11202098_769226793196592_4396882023617129703_n

We were all tired, hungry, and deliriously happy when we took a picture around the fifty yard line. Staring up at the enormous blue sky, I held the hand of a little person with a future. He could be a doctor, a lawyer, a great dad, or maybe even a yoga teacher. The best part is, he knows this just as well as I do. He believes in himself, and YIS believes in him. We were in a circle of possibility, and all of us – rich, poor, black, white, in between – will carry that circle, and that day, with us, for the rest of our lives.

Thank you, yoga, for everything. And thank you to all my amazing teachers, especially, on this day, Catherine Cook-Cottone and Steven Procknal. You two are sharing your multitudinous gifts so beautifully, and I am beyond blessed to know you both.

11393152_708729889236898_7017409691178707193_n

Article written by Hannah Duke.

No Worries, Africa

Rules for going to Africa:

  1. Don’t drink the water
  2. Take Malaria pills
  3. Don’t eat raw fruits or veggies
  4. Don’t Fall In Love
  5. Use bug spray
  6. Sleep
  7. Wash your hands
  8. Don’t Share the same water bottle
  9. Don’t step outside the hotel
  10. Walk in pairs
  11. Stay Fit
  12. Stay Vegan

I am pretty sure I broke every rule in the book. I ventured on this journey to Africa to receive a certification in Baptiste Yoga (200Hours), and travel to a place that has always sparked my interest. I was quickly awakened when I found:

  • The only muscle that grew was my heart
  • I Gained an entire family of brothers and sisters
  • I Made a promise to return to Africa
  •  I have an appreciation for anything called food
  •  I have a love for chapati (carbs)
  • True Freedom
  • Internal happiness
  • A Support system
  • A plan for solving world hunger through yoga
  • Healthiest I’ve ever felt (not vegan)
  • Best Friends & new lingo
  • NO WORRIES

11059642_10152883532547428_8260373517004950987_n

Drop What You Know

As I heard the captain speak first in Arabic, 5 hours into my flight from Dubai to Kenya, I knew something sounded off. Then in English, “Since we cannot fly over Yemen because of military unrest, we will take another route.” Never have I traveled internationally by myself, so I thought this was the end (haha). My flight was 4 hours late, and with customs, ebola check, visa, and waiting for my bag- I was 6 hours late. As soon as I stepped outside there were hundreds of people crowded around the airport with signs. I thought that no one would ever find me -but just as a I went to sit down I saw an Africa Yoga Project member, Irene, and my beautiful Egyptian roommate, Omniya, (both who i met on Facebook) waving with excitement. I wiped the sweat off my forehead and carried my overpacked bag to the driver-this was only the beginning.

The air, the people, the music, the dance, the acrobatics, the sweat, the tears, the hope, the feel, the bond, the love, the possibility all struck me instantaneously as a place I wanted to forever call home. When we arrived to the Shine Center, it was filled with people from every country and continent. There were two members that were deaf, and one that was completely blind, and I thought how are they ever going to do this yoga? Yoga in Africa is for everyone and the talents they had to overcome their disabilities were unbelievable. Paige did not treat them any different, but pushed and encouraged them to dive further. People were doing acro-yoga all over the room, handstands, and inversions with the biggest smiles I have ever seen. Our first mission: Stand up,walk around and greet everyone with a hug. This became my favorite part of the day as we all shared a genuine feel for love.  And,Yes, Paige is as breathtaking with her presence and we all imagine!

11204998_10152891533092428_1811877438109062475_n

Shift Your vision

With my regular daily practice at Power Yoga Buffalo, I thought that Africa Yoga had nothing on me. Well, let me tell you, with 400 people at the Shine center gathered for a free community class, Paige did not let us have it easy. People from off the streets, fathers with their babies, families, first timers, all gathered on a saturday morning to share this practice-and it is not a quiet one. All the yoga I have tried has been silent and introspective, but in Africa they tell you exactly how they feel all the time. They do not hide anything or hold it back, it is all let out through sighs, words, laughs, cries, and lots of sweat. At first I thought this is crazy, and not the yoga I know. After many silent giggles and eye rolls, I tried it and IT FEELS SO GOOD! SO LET IT OUT!

Be Up to Something Bigger Than Yourself

When we think of a yoga teacher in America, we think a low paying job. In Africa, it is a chance for employment, a way to connect with the community, a way of healing, possibility, and to provide service to others. For every paid class a yoga teacher teaches they give multiple free classes in the slums, jails, hospitals, special needs centers, and schools as an outreach project. They are less concerned with how much money they are making and more concerned with spreading this practice throughout Africa. As we walked through the slums, the flies were swarming, the smells were unbearable, the children with no clothes, the drugs, the alcohol were all around us. There are no mats, no incense burning, no candles, no oils, no blocks and no cool lululemon clothes. There are no means of proper hydration, sanitation, nutrition, or places to call home. These people practice the same sequence with nothing but dirt floors and lips pointed up to the sky. To think that the same yoga we practice is also being emulated in a third world country, with much bigger problems, makes me think world peace is possible through yoga!

This yoga works because it is accessible to every person, country, culture, body type, age, language, race and economic situation. My favorite part of this entire journey was being able to connect with a little girl who had muscular dystrophy, by placing her in childs pose. To manipulate the muscles and bones in such a way that this girl could experience yoga in her body, was unbelievable. Just being able to connect with someone on such a spiritual level gave life a different perspective on life and made me feel things I have never felt before.

934898_10152838275157428_2011308460585246004_n

In order to Heal, You Need to Feel

Two weeks of breaking us down while sharing our past, present, and future residue and challenging the physical and mental was just a stepping stone for having continuous breakthroughs. We cried more than I thought was possible, took off all of our masks, and experienced the present moment. We released all of our toxins and made a path for freedom. This was the most difficult three weeks of my life, but also the most life changing. In Order to Heal, You need to Feel.

Come From You Are Ready Now

The last day was so emotional. I met new best friends from Brazil, Africa, Egypt, Argentina, Zimbabwe, America, Uganda and it was so hard to say goodbye. We shared secrets and sweat for so long that it seemed wrong to leave all of my brothers and sisters. I was hoping my flight would get cancelled and I would be able to stay forever. AtI knew that I had to spread that same light in my own hometown.

Through Africa Yoga Project, Seva Safari, I learned how to truly “Live my Yoga.” I see real similarities in the community aspect of Yogis in Service-which makes me proud to live in an area that values outreach. How will I Live my Yoga? I started a summer project for the Boys and Girls Club Niagara Falls, that runs for 7 weeks, and provides yoga and mats for all of the children. Teaching the staff at Mercy Hospital twice a week during their shifts. Teaching at Lafayette Highschool. Teaching all over Buffalo community and spreading the love! Hopefully returning to Africa to work with Africa Yoga Project on creating AYP Uganda!

11146303_10203945584704913_9041452332584809367_n

Article written by Sarah Panzica

Yoga Changed My Life & It Can Change Yours Too

About four years ago, when I was 22 years old, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. When the doctors told me of all the things I could no longer do, of all the things I’d have trouble with in the future, and the very real risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), I felt broken. As I began taking medication in hopes of controlling my seizures, I started experiencing side effects that further interrupted my ability to complete normal daily tasks. I felt like a prisoner. Everywhere I looked, I was reminded that I was sick. I started to believe there was no way out and that I would never get better. I felt as though epilepsy had not only taken control of my body, but it had taken control of my entire life.

11071684_735073349945270_6255481979544981169_nAs conventional medicine only seemed to exacerbate my overall condition and put further strain on my family, we began searching for alternative forms of treatment in hopes of turning things around. When my mom came across an article that explained how both yoga and meditation are effective therapies for seizure disorders, I figured I’d give it a try.

In my very first class, I watched as the guy in front of me proceeded to get into a headstand, or as I called it, “sit on his head.” I was amazed. For th11100230_735085419944063_9110207024116922311_ne first time in what seemed like forever, instead of saying, “I can’t do that,” I found myself saying, “I can’t WAIT to do that.” Yoga quickly became a place where I could explore—where I could discover things that I was capable of doing. As I continued to show up to class and my teachers pushed me to try, I started to feel powerful. When I was on my mat, I wasn’t sick and there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. Slowly, my diagnosis stopped taking precedence. My energy went into my practice and I began to heal from the inside out. Yoga was the vehicle that allowed me to see myself beyond my diagnosis. As soon as I stopped letting my diagnosis define me, I was not only able to imagine a life for myself outside of my epilepsy, but I found the strength and courage to make it happen.

Currently, I am wrapping up my first year of graduate school in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Canisius College. Due to my grades and service work, I was recently inducted in to Alpha Sigma Nu, a National Jesuit Honor Society. I am working at the college as an ESL tutor, Advisor and Peer Mentor for both at-risk and international students. I am also in the process of launching Project1 in 26, a not-for-profit program meant to bring epilepsy awareness and education to schools. I have been seizure free for over two years.

Yoga brought me back to life and allowed me to dream again. One of my dreams is to share with others all that yoga has given me. I hope to one day incorporate counseling services with yoga to promote healing and empowerment for survivors of trauma, domestic violence and abuse, as well as those experiencing grief and loss.

11050801_735085899944015_3931736966002410025_nYou don’t have to be flexible, skinny or in perfect health to do yoga. You just have to show up and try. When you let go of expectations and all of the ways you tell yourself you can’t, or that you’re not good enough, you open yourself up to the possibility of achieving what you thought was impossible, both on and off the mat.

IMG_1772Article written by Alyssa Scarano. Alyssa is one of our YIS teachers working the Summer Saturdays project.

The Story of Little Frog: The Yoga Garden at the White House Easter Egg Roll 2015

WE’VE GOT THIS!

Catherine Cook-Cottone, representing Yogis in Service

1

WHEER 2015 Yoga Garden Photo Meghan Powell Photography

What are the stories that move us? The first man on the moon, the 83 year old who finishes the marathon, the soldier who saves his comrades despite incoming fire, the inner city kid who makes it to- and through- graduate school and returns to bring her neighborhood up, the mother who risks her life to save the life of her child, the young woman who drops the cultural narrative that objectifies women and lives from power and inner beauty, the sports teams that- against all odds- win.

These are our heroes. What makes someone a hero? Heroes are those who are noted for feats of courage or purpose. They have looked challenge in the eyes and said, “I’ve got this” and they do! People like Dan Nevins.

2

Dan Nevins, WHEER 2015, Meghan Powell Photography

“In May 2008, Nevins was awarded the George C. Lang Award for Courage, the highest award bestowed by Wounded Warrior Project. Although Nevins was a highly decorated soldier, the Courage Award remains his most significant honor. Dan gives credit to Wounded Warrior Project for his successful rehabilitation,positive attitude, “can do” spirit, and more importantly his passion for helping his fellow warriors in any way he can. On March 1, 2009 Nevins joined Wounded Warrior Project in an official capacity, and now serves as director of Warriors Speak, a prestigious group of wounded warriors and caregivers who have been selected to share their personal, inspirational stories of courage and integrity with the public. By sharing his own story and personal accomplishments, Nevins is an inspiration to his peers and the warriors he serves. He recently climbed mount Kilimanjaro with two of his fellow wounded warriors and feels honored to be a part of an organization so significant in the lives of our nation’s military heroes and their families.” http://www.bushcenter.org/people/dan-nevins

3

Dan Nevins, WHEER 2015, Meghan Powell Photography

At a certain point, Dan- like all heroes- probably said to himself something like this, “Dan- I am here for you. I see you. Breathe and be present. You’ve got this!”

4

WHEER 2015, Meghan Powell Photography

I had the honor of teaching yoga along with Dan Nevins and a group of amazing yoga teachers (i.e., heroes = see the list below), in the Yoga Garden, at the White House for the White House Easter Egg Roll (WHEER 2015) as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move and Gimme Five Initiatives http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/06/politics/michelle-obama-easter-dance/

What were we up to? Sharing yoga.

Why share yoga? Because yoga is a powerful tool for self-regulation, health, and creating a life in which anything is possible.

How does yoga do this? Read this….

So, you know those hero stories? Like I said- they are the stories of individuals who, despite challenge and struggles, “pulled it together” and persevered. That is, they integrated mind and body in service of their mission, goal, and dharma- and did it! This is yoga- yoga yokes- it integrates- it pulls you together so you can say- from a very powerful and integrated place- “I’ve got this!” and with practice YOU DO!

So what are you yoking? What are you integrating in your yoga?

Your material self– your body.

Your energy self– your breath, movement, and processes of the body (some call this spirit- the spirit it takes to win the game, to persevere despite all messages to the contrary, to know you and what you are up to matters).

Your dharma– a Sanskrit word that means “your reason for being.”

It is our charge to nurture each of the three. Together, these three aspects of self can create a life of unlimited possibility- a hero life. Neglect any one of those three and you can lose or miss out on your story. And this- this is the really interesting thing- if you don’t take the challenge; if you pass up the opportunity to integrate body, spirit, and dharma- there is no compelling narrative. You won’t be your own or anyone else’s hero. There is no, “I’ve got this…”

5

Yoga, Intention, and Dharma, Cook-Cottone, 2015

 

It goes like this- at birth, we are a beautiful bundle of humanity full of energy and life. However, aside from some rudimentary reflexes and neurophysiological patterns that set the sleep-wake and hunger-satiety cycles, attachment process and growth into motion, we are far from integrated. We are a set of reactions to both internal cues/signals and external experiences.

Each day we are alive, we have the opportunity to become more integrated. As human beings develop, they become more capable of intentional action. Repeated practice of intentional action integrates you. Dan Siegel has done a wonderful job in several of his books describing what neurophysiological integration looks like (see The Developing Mind and Mindsight). An integrated human is flexible, adaptive, coherent, energized, and stable. Trust me, these are things you want and nurturing your physical and energetic self in service of your dharma will get you there.

The most effective way to do this is to live ON PURPOSE. To live on purpose is to be present- body and breath and to know and be in service of your dharma- intentionally every day. It looks like this:

When we are little and developing, our parents help keep us together, integrated. In a funny way, they help us be in our yoga- our integration. Of course, lots of stuff can happen on the way that is dis-integrating. Things like trauma, divorce, stress, war, accidents, injuries, etc.. When these things happen, effective parents and loved ones help their children pull things back together, they help them re-integrate. They tell their children, “I am here for you. I see you. Breathe and be present. You’ve got this!”

As we move into adolescence and adulthood, it becomes our responsibility to self-integrate. This process involves staying present, breathing, and taking care of your body. It is the process of telling yourself, “I am here for you. I see you. Breathe and be present. You’ve got this!”

It also involves realizing your dharma, your reason for being. It starts small. It starts with practicing with intentions. Small accomplishable intentions like- “I will finish my homework,” and “I will make my bed.” Even tiny efforts, help fuse your material self and energetic/spirit self. For example, as I type, my material-self fingers are moving as my energetic body drives them- why? So that I can type this message- my intention is to share yoga with you. And so I type- on purpose and with purpose- I type as a form of yoga.

As we mature we extend out intentions to larger things, into goals: “I will get good grades this year,” and “I will make the team.” Once we are old enough, developed enough, it is time to get present to dharma- the BIG ON PURPOSE. It is time to begin living intentionally toward your reasons for being. You move toward your BIG “I’ve got this!” With presence (I am here for you), awareness (I see you), and breath- you will find you dharma.

Yoga does this. There are other pathways. Still, yoga was built for this. It makes sense then that yoga practice has changed my life. It has made me a healthier and better person. As yoga began to change my life, I wanted to understand how and why and to share it with anyone who would listen. I started researching yoga in 2002 as a way to prevent eating disorder among young girls (see http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Growing-Wellness-Balance-Empower/dp/0615737609/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1428514195&sr=8-4&keywords=cook-cottone). I wanted to help young girls learn tools that could help them face the, relational, cultural, and media challenges presented to them daily- and I did!

6

Girls Growing in Wellness and Balance, Cook-Cottone & Kane, 2013

It was this kind of being ON PURPOSE that helped open door to more being ON PURPOSE. It is powerful stuff. It is a magnet of awesome. It helps you find other people who are BEING ON PURPOSE- and you help each other. It is what we call generative. And so I met Leah Cullis (http://leahcullis.com)

…..and I got the chance to BE ON PURPOSE together- with a bunch of other awesome ON PURPOSE people at the White House Easter Egg Roll- 2015!

The WHEER 2015! YAY!!!

What now? What do I do?  When you are living on purpose- those answers come easy- what did I do? I aligned with my ON PURPOSE. So, when I had the chance to teach yoga at the White House, I thought I would share a story that I use when I work with young girls. It is a story of a little frog who went to warrior school [and truth be told- this little frog is a lot like me- and warrior school- is a lot like yoga]. I thought to myself, “Catherine- I am here for you. I see you. Breathe and be present. You’ve got this!” This is what I did….

Little Frog Goes to Warrior School

“You see there is a lake in the Adirondacks called Brantingham Lake. It is there that I love to do sun salutations on the dock, paddle board, and swim (we did sun salutation A’s- in the Washington DC sunshine- ahhhhh).

7

Albina Rippy (as Little Frog) and me, WHEER 2015, Meghan Powell Photography

At this lake, there are dragonflies and frogs. We can do yoga in the shapes of dragonflies and frogs (and we did!).

And maybe, not too very long ago, there was a little frog who was a little afraid of everything (we curled up in a little ball- balasana).

Little Frog longed to be big and strong, steady and sure. She wanted to be like- what they call- tadasana- or LIKE A MOUNTAIN (we did mountain pose).

She heard of this place called warrior school. A place where she could learn to be like the warrior frogs- those who share what the love without fear. Her heart said “Little Frog, you must go.”

Little Frog needed to go across the water to get to warrior school and so we took a boat- that is-we did boat pose and sang, “Row, row, row your boat….” Until we go there.

At warrior school- you guessed it- there were lots of chances for Little Frog to learn warrior poses! Little Frog learned all sorts of warrior asanas (postures) and strong warrior thoughts (Mantras).

I am strong!

I am brave!

I am a warrior!

She learned to breathe in strong thoughts and breathe out worries. She learned to hold warrior energy in her body. She was present and mindful, breathed into to her warrior ones, and twos, and threes, and she practiced her words ‘I am strong! I am brave! I am a warrior!”

With her new warrior skills she headed back to the lake- by boat of course! She thought to herself, ““Little Frog- I am here for you. I see you. Breathe and be present. You’ve got this!”

With her big strong courageous heart, Little Frog headed back to play with her friends.

8

Albina Rippy (as Little Frog) and me, WHEER, 2015 Meghan Powell Photography

Together they hopped and then did tree pose! (yes we did!).

Then, to celebrate Little Frog’s gradation, we did a traditional White House Easter Egg Roll, Yoga Garden down dog bridge- and all the little warrior frogs in class got to run through the warrior bridge to celebrate!!!! Last, just like every good graduation party- we danced, and danced, and danced, until it was time for the next awesome yoga class!”

9

WHEER, 2015, The Down Dog Tunnel Meghan Powell Photography

When Little Frog, and I, got grounded and integrated- we could be up to our ON PURPOSE. When we got present to, “I am here for you. I see you. Breathe and be present.” We could be up to our “I’ve got this!” Little frog and I both went on to teach the powerful tools of yoga to others- Little Frog at Brantingham Lake- near my parents lovely camp and me- right in Buffalo- at the University at Buffalo as an associate professor, as a yoga instructor at Power Yoga Buffalo, and through Yogis in Service (http://yogisinservice.org/) as we provide access to yoga to anyone who is interested in learning.

When you get your material self and your energetic self together- its dharma that happens- big beautiful ON YOUR PURPOSE dharma- and trust me “You’ve got this.”

So say it with me, “YOUR NAME HERE- I am here for you. I see you. Breathe and be present. You’ve got this!” and you will!

Thank you to Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move and Gimme Five campaigns!

Congratulations Little Frog and all of the powerful teachers that inspired me throughout the day!

MEET AMAZING WHEER 2015 THE TEAM!!!

10

WHEER, 2015 Yoga Garden Team, Meghan Powell Photography

THANK YOU to organizer and founder Leah Cullis http://leahcullis.com

http://leahcullis.com/yoga-at-the-white-house/

“Since 2009 Yoga has been a part of the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn.  I am grateful and deeply honored to have organized the Yoga Garden, the incredible team of teachers, and to have been a part of this event to share yoga in “America’s Back Yard”.

Along with Yoga the White House has hosted numerous activities designed to encourage “America’s youth to lead healthy and active lives,” according to a White House press release. Other activities have included cooking classes, basketball, storytelling, dancing, tours through the White House garden, the traditional Easter Egg roll and much more.  The White House Easter Egg Roll is the largest public event held at the White House for the last 135 years. An unprecedented 30,000 families experienced Yoga with each event in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.  The Obama family has given the traditional event a twist, turned it into an active family oriented day, and include Yoga as part of the celebration.

Read more about my experience teaching yoga at the White House in Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine. http://mantramag.com/first-lady-plants-yoga-garden-leah-cullis/”
THANK YOU! White House Easter Egg Roll Teachers
Peg Mulqueen- Washington DC area- http://pegmulqueen.com

Claudia Cavazza- Washington DC- Community Relations lululemon Ω athletica

Faith Hunter- Washington DC area- http://www.faithhunter.com/

Michelle Kelsey Mitchell- Washington DC area- http://yokid.org/about/founders/

Rachel Dolan- Washington DC area- http://www.rachelleighdolan.com/

Caroline Lowe- Washington DC area

Jafar Alexander- Washington DC area- http://www.belovedyoga.com/about-us/beloved-yoga-staff/

Ahmed Jabali-Nash- Washington DC area

Elizabeth Burris- Washington DC area- http://www.acroyoga.org/app-teacher-directory/elizabeth-burris

Justin Blazejewski- Washington DC area- http://www.acroyoga.org/app-teacher-directory/justin-blazejewski

Olivia Barnett- Washington DC area- http://www.positiveenergyyoga.net/about.aspx

Jessica Micheletti- Sacramento, CA http://www.baronbaptiste.com/community/teacher/jessica-micheletti/

Keith Mitchell, LA, CA- http://www.keithmitchell59.com/#intro

Dan Nevis, Jacksonville, FL- http://www.bushcenter.org/people/dan-nevins

Tonya Farmer, NYC- http://www.pranapoweryoga.com/teachers/tanya-farmer/

Bari Koral, NYC- http://barikoral.com/

Nicholas Giacomini and Amanda Giacomini, Point Reyes, CA- http://www.mcyogi.com/

Chris Lucas, North Hampton, MA- http://www.baronbaptiste.com/community/teacher/christopherlucas/

Nancy Sheridan, Houston, TX- http://www.baronbaptiste.com/community/teacher/nancy-sheridan/

Roger Rippy and Albina Rippy Houston, TX- http://texasyogaconference.com/albina-and-roger-rippy/

Photos from Meghan Powell Photography http://www.meghanpowellphotography.com/

More here in the Buffalo News about Catherine Cook-Cottone’s WHEER 2015 trip http://www.buffalonews.com/storyimage/BN/20150406/CITYANDREGION/150409523/AR/0/AR-150409523.jpg&maxW=960

Reflection: Yoga at the Resurrection Church

I remember the class when Catherine mentioned an upcoming volunteer project that she was very excited about. My ears perked up. I was already interested even though I didn’t know what it was. You see, my boys are growing up and don’t need me as much (sad face). The last time I had volunteered was for an adaptive ski school program for children with special needs. It was a great experience during our long winters. But now, yoga has taken over my life and I was ready to spread the love.

image1Fast forward to my first YIS meeting. I reluctantly went. What did I possibly have to offer with my two years of practicing yoga and no formal training or certification? At the beginning of the meeting, we went around the room introducing ourselves and sharing our experiences. Ugh, I was dreading my turn. I shared that I was an elementary teacher of 25 years. But I kept hearing, “I did level one, I teach yoga, I’m going for level 2,etc.” I came home that night and told my family that I was “just a teacher” and I didn’t even know where I fit in this whole YIS experience. My husband reassured me that my teaching experience with kids has huge and he was so proud of my efforts.

So the first day of my volunteering, there was a travel ban due to snowy weather. I felt guilty for not going. The following week, I was ready and eager.11050801_735085899944015_3931736966002410025_n

We practiced yoga, worked on partner activities and before I knew it, class was over. But I wanted more! I was lucky enough to car pool with a fabulous new YIS friend, Alyssa. We babbled on and on about how fabulous the whole morning was. We were already planning the next Saturday together!  I was also fortunate to attend the Easter Egg Hunt at MLK Park. I hitched a ride with Catherine and her girls. We jammed to Wham and rapped our way to the Park.

It was a fabulous time letting the children “show off” their yoga moves while the Easter Bunny and Mayor Brown shook hands with all ages.

As you can see, you don’t have to be a yoga teacher to love volunteering at the Resurrection Church or for YIS. Just be ready to spread the love of yoga. Hope to see you there!11002582_738709506248321_2366283849508467148_n

Article written by Sheri M. Curry

Project Update: Easter Egg Hunt and YIS Demo

10422177_738704546248817_3417935340716509864_nBuffalo City Council member Demone Smith hosted the annual Masten Easter Egg Hunt at MLK Park on Saturday April 4th.  The event drew thrones of eager children and parents as well as special appearances by Buffalo’s Mayor, The Honorable Byron Brown; Buffalo City Court Judge, The Honorable 1508533_738708686248403_2628921827585962780_n
JaHarr Pridgen; and Erie County Family Court Judge, The Honorable Deanne Tripi.  Among these honored guests, our very own Catherine Cook-Cottone was asked to put on a yoga demonstration for the crowd.

Yogi’s In Service showed up BIG for the event with at least a dozen members assisting and demonstrating for the crowd.  Making the demonstration interactive and fun, Catherine awarded prizes to participants who could hold “tree” or “warrior 3” or “crow” the longest.  In addition to sharing their love of yoga, many Yogis in Service joined in the dance contests and showcased their love of dance! Our own yogi, Eric, was honored with a prize for his “current” dancing skills during the Mayor’s dance contest while Mary G. Carney got honorable mention for her “old school” style.

11133854_738702412915697_9027307369555350842_nThe YIS demonstration was quite popular, and many attendees asked about where to find Yogi’s in Service again.  We happily replied “Resurrection Church on Doat & Genessee every Saturday at 10am! And coming soon to the Delevan Grider Community Center!”  We can’t wait to return next year with some new dance moves and more yoga for fun.

Article written by Mary Carney

 

March Meeting Notes

The March members meeting notes are now available in the Member’s Area! Please note that in order to gain access to the Members Area, you must regularly attend YIS Member meetings.

Some of the highlights from the March meeting include:

  • Multiple new project proposals from local community advocates.
  • Update on current projects.
  • Fundraising events and new ideas.
  • Mind jar kit distribution.

10556487_735101893275749_884663405166440550_n