Make Someone Happy – Living Your Yoga Off the Mat in Cleveland (or your ‘hood)

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January 19, 2012

“Forget your selfishness, make others happy, and you will be the happiest person. By seeing others happy, you can’t be unhappy. But by making everyone unhappy, you can never be happy yourself. So, at least for your happiness, bring happiness to others.” – Sri Swami Satchidananda, from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

I had just started to read The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (a guidebook for the study and practice of yoga), when on page 11 this lovely quote popped up and really struck a chord with me. I pulled out my yellow highlighter so I’d remember the message, and I even put a few stars next to it. To this day, it is still one of my favorite passages in the book and is one that I bring to mind often.

What a concept…make other people happy, and you’ll be happy too!

Case in point, thankfully one of my jobs is being a yoga teacher. My job allows me to bring peace and happiness to others, and guess what? It just so happens to bring me a great deal of joy too!

There are many ways to bring happiness to others, and I’d like to introduce you to two organizations that are helping to bring smiles and nurture the minds, bodies, and souls of at-risk youth.

Girls With Sole

I was very lucky to be introduced to a fantastic organization here in Cleveland called Girls With Sole. Liz Ferro started this non-profit organization to foster hope and healing for girls who have experienced abuse and who need someone to believe in them so they can believe in themselves. Liz, along with adult volunteers, brings fitness activities (from traditional team sports and dance to yoga and nutritional advice) as well as free running shoes, sports bras, and fitness journals to participants.

I recently got to be one of those volunteers and taught a group of twenty teenage girls their first yoga class. Yeah, there was a lot of giggling during class, and I didn’t quite get the message across about lying in stillness during savasana, but I have to say, I have never seen such a beautiful group of fierce yogini goddesses standing tall in their virabhadrasana (warrior) poses. I’m quite certain I was the one who learned the most that day, and as Patanjali promised, doing good for others made me pretty darn happy too. I had a major yoga high the rest of the day and for quite a few days following the class.

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Liz is one of those people that can light up a room. She’s full of energy and is a real joy to be around. She was recently featured in Cleveland Business Connects and was quoted as saying, “There is no shinier badge of honor than making a difference in the life of a child.”

Girls With Sole is always looking for financial support and volunteers, so please visit www.girlswithsole.org or e-mail Liz at girlswithsole.org for more information. You can also follow Girls with Sole on Facebook.

Street Yoga

I’m a big believer in the universe sending messages, and the Street Yoga organization has been gently poking at me quite a bit lately. I first heard about Street Yoga in a tweet-up a few months ago and have since learned more  about this non-profit organization that teaches yoga, mindful breathing, and compassionate communication to youth, families, and their caregivers who are struggling with homelessness, poverty, abuse, addiction, trauma, and behavioral challenges. This awesome practice of yoga encourages them to grow stronger, heal from past traumas, and create for themselves a life that is inspired, safe, and joyful (aka filled with HAPPINESS!).

Mark Lilly founded Street Yoga in 2002 by organizing a handful of yoga teachers to teach yoga at a day shelter and school that serves homeless youth. Because Lilly’s life was deeply bettered by yoga, he wanted to share his love of yoga with others. Over the last ten years, the organization he started has helped reach thousands of kids in cities like Portland, Seattle, New York City, and San Diego.

And now, I’m super excited to announce that Cleveland is going to launch its very own Street Yoga program! Woot woot! Imagine my surprise when I found out that Street Yoga – along with local sponsors Urban Lotus Youth Yoga and The Studio Cleveland – will be putting on a teacher-training workshop this coming March 30-April 1.

Street Yoga coming to Cleveland…surely this is more than a gentle love tap; this is one huge, honking sign from the universe!

Street Yoga teacher training focuses on teaching the skills needed to serve youth with yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices. The course, which is a 14-hour CEU workshop (NASW approved for continuing education contact hours for social workers and for continuing education credits for yoga teachers through Yoga Alliance), will provide real world knowledge and techniques to assist volunteers in teaching at-risk youth. Trainees will also be encouraged to dig into their personal experiences to draw out their own courage and compassion as a teacher.

I had been thinking about attending the Street Yoga teacher training in Chicago this year, but when I found out about the Cleveland training, I figured it was just the nudge I needed from the universe to get me to sign up. I would love to see some of my fellow Cleveland/Akron area yoga buddies join up with me! If you are interested in participating but need some financial support to do so, Street Yoga has generously offered a partial scholarship to a Daily Downward Dog reader.

Win A Scholarship to the Cleveland Street Yoga Teacher Training

Yes, you can pick up a partial scholarship to attend the March 30-April 1, Street Yoga teacher training. The partial scholarship is for $145, which will cover one half of the workshop fee. If you would like to win the scholarship you must have an open heart and desire to work with these populations. You also need to be available to attend the training workshop which will be held at The Studio in Cleveland. The workshop times are not yet set, but will likely include a session on Friday evening and all-day sessions on Saturday and Sunday.

To enter, please leave a comment below about what draws you to serve others with yoga. If you want to get verbose you can even add a little about what your intentions for service might be after the training. Entries will be received until February 29, 2012 and the winner will be randomly selected and announced here by March 1, 2012.

Like Girls with Sole, Street Yoga is always looking for financial support and volunteers. Check out their website at streetyoga.org, and if you are interested in starting up Street Yoga in your ‘hood, get in touch with Mark and his team.

I’ll leave you with one last thought about happiness, this time from the vocal stylings of Frank Sinatra:

“Make someone happy,

make just one someone happy.

And you will be happy too.”

Leave a Comment

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

andrea falcone January 19, 2012 at 9:03 AM

hi There! I am living in rural West Virginia and have introduced Yoga into these small towns..to farmers and a very needy and receptive~gratefully~ Appalachian community! I would superlOVe to attend this training..i am a
Special Ed teacher who has worked with the alternative population for many years. I have been able to intoduce yoga to the hospice and bereavement program in this Potomac Highlands region..any MeTTa traininG i could injest and give back to these loving folks would be a blessing indeed!! <3 Namaste

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Becca @ Peace, Love & Bagels January 19, 2012 at 9:27 AM

I’m definitely entering this one :)

I want to do this training because I’ve had a taste of working with underpriviledged/at-risk youth when I was coaching for Liz and Girls With Sole. It was an incredible experience just to see a little sparkle in the girls’ eyes when they got excited about whatever activity we were doing. I could just tell that I was getting through to them, even if it was in the smallest way, and offering my support. I want to continue to be a part of that support system.

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Jennifer Lenhart January 22, 2012 at 9:07 AM

Teaching and practicing yoga, meditation, and mindfulness is one of the greatest joys in my life. I love to share these practices with others because of the transformative, healing, profound effects they have on regular practitioners. Yoga and meditation helps us to see that we are perfect and whole just as we are, even with our imperfections. These practices join body, mind, breath, and spirit and allow us to become more compassionate, forgiving, loving, and kind. They allow us to become more resilient and less reactive. They offer a way to a more peaceful world. And they are available to every one of us. I am inspired by the work Noah Levine, Vinny Ferraro, and Dharma Punx have done in bringing meditation practices to young people and by the work of Father Gregory Boyle in working with gangs in LA. Here in Cleveland, I am inspired by the work of Jennifer Martinez Atzberger and Urban Lotus Youth Yoga. I would like to participate in the Street Yoga training in order to couple it with my meditation training and teaching in order to be of service to the young people of Cleveland.

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Juli Hicks February 14, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Please consider me for the “Street Yoga” scholarship. Being a current yoga teacher and more importantly, a yoga practitioner, I know the peace and wholeness it can bring to a body and soul. I would love to share this amazing practice with a population that could use the healing and love that each class cultivates. Namaste’

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Danielle Fisher Carlson February 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM

I love introducing others to yoga because it brings me closer to my own yoga practice and myself. I just want other’s to enjoy themselves and really truly see what yoga can offer them.

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Gina February 24, 2012 at 3:22 PM

I LOVE the way yoga makes me feel and I am eager to share it with EVERYONE! It has changed my life! By helping me become more aware, I can find kindness and compassion within and by sharing this wonderful gift of yoga I hope to help others open up their physical and subtle bodies to experiencing balance and confidence.
In the near future I will be working with Family Promise of Greater Cleveland, who help inner city families find rehabilitation and will be working with their children practicing yoga and encouraging them to find physical wellbeing! I will take the knowledge from this workshop out into my neighborhood of Ohio City and Tremont to hopefully start a yoga co op!

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Kara DePaul February 27, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Thank you for this great offer! I am a yoga teacher, a practitioner and someone who believes in the power of helping children (and all those who cannot yet see it) get to know, see and understand their true light and potential in this world. We all need reminded of this at one point or another, and to be able to participate in a program like this and then take this to the streets of our Cleveland neighborhoods would be simply fantastic. And also a little bit of a dream come true. After being guided and helped in this life to rediscover and enjoy that light within myself, I yearn to help guide others to do just that through the power of yoga and awareness. I’ve known for a long time I desired to teach and work with children, and have opened to the suggestion that it may not be from traditional education, and that is ok. Because through yoga, you can reach the heart and the mind and open the soul. Thank you for your consideration!

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Rachel February 28, 2012 at 3:01 PM

I would love to be considered for the partial scholarship! As you know, I’ve been contemplating teacher training for quite some time; and this is the perfect introduction. Plus, I would love to work with underprivileged youth and bring them the positive outlet of yoga to our Akron community!

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keara February 28, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Hello there!
It is such serendipity that Street Yoga is coming to Cleveland! I have always pursued teaching for the very mission of this amazing organization, as well as other non-profit yoga organizations. Yoga is service, at the very foundations of my spiritual practice.
I work with low-income and homeless LGBT youth and young adults (14-24) who use the community center where I am on staff as a drop-in safe space. Because we have very limited resources as a nonprofit, I like to help them achieve their own goals and gain life skills by introducing new things to them every week in simple ways. Last night, we went to Cleveland Public Theater thanks to a donation of tickets. I glean asparagus and other fruits and vegetables they have never tried in our weekly cooking class. Introducing them to knitting, meditation, the outdoors and chanting, they are still always asking me when we will be doing yoga, as none of them had ever considered it until now. I have hesitated because it has been some time since I have taught, completing my 200-hour certification in 2010, and I do not want to do them a disservice. It is now that I realize that it is the spirit of the practice, the mission of Street Yoga, that truly matters in this context, and that I have the heart and capacity to serve my youth through this form. I am truly devoted to the mission of Street Yoga, and want to show these young people that we may not have a lot of money to spend on programming, but we can have fun, feel safe, grow within ourselves and recognize our own self-worth as we try new things and develop together individually and as an ever-stronger group. I am truly blessed to work with these young people, and would be honored to represent Daily Downward Dog as a scholarship recipient in order to pursue this service.

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Maria @dailydownwarddog March 1, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Just did the put the name in a hat and pick a winner – and Kara DePaul has won the scholarship!

I want to thank all the lovely yoginis who entered and I hope you will still consider attending the Street Yoga Training in March. I would love to meet you all in person!

Namaste,
Maria

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