Submitted by Kath Pengelly, volunteer and advocate coordinator at Lifeworks
“Lift your arms, let’s do some breath work. Try to keep your balance and don’t forget to breathe.” That’s Kristen Blinkhorn, our yoga instructor from the Prairie Yoga School in Eden Prairie talking to our Bloomington clients. Every Monday morning Kristen comes, sometimes alone and sometimes with Stephanie Braunwarth to help us stretch and work on balance, but most of all, relax.
Kristen responded to a volunteer posting I had placed on a volunteer website, Yoga Instructor Wanted sometime last March. She explained that she and Stephanie were students at Prairie Yoga studying to become instructors. Part of their education is to also bring the practice of yoga to underserved populations. It was the perfect match for us, I thought.
Kristen and Stephanie have been coming now for seven weeks, and when I asked what surprised them most about the people in their class, Kristen said, “I was very surprised that several in the group have previous knowledge of yoga. I had never considered that they might already be practitioners.” But she quickly went on to say, “I try to teach them one new thing each week, they are so willing to try new poses and work on focus and concentration…Of course, everyone’s favorite pose is shavasana, the relaxation pose at the end of all yoga sessions.”
Ethel Cartier, our Bloomington Program Supervisor, talked about the benefits of having Kristen and Stephanie volunteer with us. “Everyone looks forward to Monday and doing yoga, it helps our clients with flexibility. They are so appreciative and it has a wonderful calming effect on the group. It is a great way to start the week.”
I also asked the clients in the class what they liked best about doing yoga. Renita was quick to say,” It makes me feel great, for my whole body.” Ryan added, “I think it helps my attitude.” And finally Sarah chimed in, “I like everything.”
Each class session ends with the instructors facing the class, everyone’s hands flat, palms together at chest level, a small bow and then the word, Namaste.” Namaste, derived from Sanskrit, can be used as a greeting or as a farewell but here I want to use it as a thank you. Thank you Kristen and Stephanie for volunteering with us, your gentle spirits have created memories that will linger forever.
If you would like to volunteer at Lifeworks, I can guarantee that there is someone who would like to learn about your talents, interests and hobbies. Please call me, Kath Pengelly, at 651-365-3720 or send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org