THANKS TO ALL OUR TEACHERS, GREETERS & STUDENTS FOR A TERRIFIC
4th SUMMER OF YOGA @ THE PARKS! HERE'S TO WELL-BEING FOR COMMUNITY
Joseph Frederick - host with most!
Jenny Wilson of INNER LIGHT YOGA STUDIOS
Julie Kamikawa of KOLIBRI KIRTAN & YOGA
Shayna Broadwell of WISCONSIN ATHLETIC CLUB
Katie Haws of TOSA YOGA CENTER
Forest Richter of INNER LIGHT YOGA STUDIOS
Michelle Shultz of GET HOT YOGA
Chelsea Schlict & Jamie Mullen, hostests with mostests!
Brigid Brennan of YogaSix
Casandra Engelbach of YogaSix
Martha Furst of downtown YMCA, Pewaukee Park & Rec Assn for the Rights of Citizens with Handicaps, Women's Post Imprisonment Support Group
WASHINGTON PARK / Urban Ecology Center
Katharina Hren of Ascent
Angela Smith of The Zen Dragonfly
Veronica Stern of YogaSix
Jen Haraway - hostess with the mostest!
Olivia Haraway - babysitter extraordinaire!
Tonieh Welland featuring Kids Yoga Creative with Heather Eiden
SEE YOU NEXT SUMMER!
I chose Blessed Savior due to the incredibly positive and fullfilling experience we had together last year. I was initially invited into the school by the k-4 teacher. She was searching for calming, stilling, emotionally leveling tools to create a more productive, harmonious classroom.
Due to extreme budget constraints, the teacher “didn’t think they could make the program work.” I stayed congruent with my belief that every child deserves yoga. I reassured her that I would accept her invitation and there would be many amazing rewards without monetary compensation. I then taught several classes to k4, k5. This year we expanded the program to k3-first grade.
When the omTown Yogis' grant information arrived, I became congruent with another belief. The hearts of yoga teachers are extremely generous and we also deserve to get paid for our offerings. The teachers and students were thrilled that yoga would return to their school!
The entire experience was transformative. Each week children greeted me with unwaning enthusiasm and ear to ear smiles and said “Miss Minda, we are so excited we have yoga today!!” The warm hugs received were countless. Many moments anchored into our belief that the children were greatly benefiting. The children appeared to have less chaotic energy, seemed to feel special, loved, nurtured and cared for. The teachers shared that the yoga and mindfulness tools were being practiced on a regular basis in their classrooms and both they and the children continuously drew from their acquired skills.
Several experiences touched my heart. One day prior to the start of class voice levels of the children in the hall were clearly no longer at an acceptable level. I heard the teacher say “Use your breath....in through the nose....ahhhh out through the mouth 3 times....now in through the nose, out through the nose.” There was instant calm.
Also, while teaching a new mudra with a similar finger position as one taught last year, the childrent started reciting “sa ta na ma,” a mudra they had cleary remembered from last year. The students remembered every detail of what was learned in general, including all the words and movements to songs I wrote such as “Breath, Body, Mind and Heart and Shanti Om.”
One other special moment was from last year. After I taught the first k/5 class , the teacher told me that one of the boys to whom I was teaching was severly autistic and that she had never seem him show such stillness in all of the time that she had worked with him.
One final experience involved a teacher who’s initial role seemed to be more about controlling behavior rather than enjoying and learning the skills right along with the children. By the end of the program she was fully engaged. I saw her doing an awesome hamstring stretch and
laughing with the kids. The spirit of yoga definitely touched her heart!
The teachers concluded that an extremely cohesive environment was created and praised the quality of the program.
Grant Recipient’s Name:Karla Johnston-KraseName of Organization Receiving Yoga Instruction:The Greater Racine Collaborative for Healthy Birth OutcomesLocation:Racine, WisconsinMy Story:The OmTown Yogis grant allowed me the opportunity to work with The Greater Racine Collaborative for Healthy Birth Outcomes (HBO Collaborative). This community-wide initiative is committed to reducing the African American infant mortality rate and improving the health and well-being of African American women, children and families in Racine. Their work takes on special significance, as Racine has the highest infant mortality rate in Wisconsin, and one of thehighest in the nation.As a yoga teacher and mom of three through both birth and adoption, I have experienced firsthand how simple practices of yoga can support families who feel stressed and overwhelmed. At the time I heard of the OmTown Yogis grant opportunity, I was already volunteering my time teaching pre/post natal yoga to teens in the school district and responding to various prenatal and kids’ yoga requests in the community. The grant offered an opportunity for me to think of how the impact might be greater. It was clear to me that the HBO Collaborative was a healthy and dedicated group of leaders and organizations that were already working in diverse partnerships to make a difference. Samantha Perry, the Collaborative’s Planning Coordinator and Project Manager, was immediately open to the possibility of working together to offer yoga to Racine families.
Through my work with different organizations in the Collaborative,I was able to share the benefits of yoga with various groups including pregnant moms and new moms, most of whom are already parenting other children and were participating in breastfeeding or mentoringprograms. There were several classes in which children came and we focused on both care for mom and yoga as a tool for connecting with children. One partner organization requested a partner/couples class, and yet another brought together eighteen fathers interested in yoga as a tool for stress management. I was delighted that through this grant, I was able to continue and expand my work with pre/post natal teens in three of Racine’s high schools.
Sharing the benefits of yoga is so fun and rewarding, but the best part is knowing that seeds are being planted and we really do not always know when or how they will sprout.
I offer a few snapshots of my year in Racine... On a Saturday afternoon, a group of six moms gathered for yoga. The children accompanying them ranged from a few weeks to five years old. One woman was ready to bring her baby into the world any day, and was hopeful that yoga might support her in some way. As we stood in a circle breathing and moving arms, I invited the moms and mentors to add sound to their breath on the exhale. As the “Ahhhh” sound filled the room, one very busy child stopped and stared. The moms chuckled. We continued as I explained that it is important for our children to see us moving and breathing. Sometimes the best invitation is just the act of doing. By our third breath, the child was joining us in breath and sound and loving it. When we finished, he clapped and asked for more. His mom was excited to take this practice home with them.A few months later, I was at an event hosted by one of the partner organizations. Over forty moms came by the yoga area for an interactive demo, and I was delighted to recognize many of them. They became the best promotion for yoga as they shared their experiences: “I used that breath you taught us all through my labor. I think it helped.” “My kid loves to lie on my back when I do that child pose you taught us. It feels good.” “I’m using oil instead of lotion on my body and my kids’ bodies now. My skin isn’t ashy anymore.” And then when I returned to one of the high schools later in the year, similar comments were shared... “I’m starting almost every day with water now, Karla, since you talked about that.” “Last week my baby was crying and I did that breath you showed me while holding her. It took a little bit but she went right to sleep.” “When is the next yoga session? I love that end part where we just lie still and rest. Best part!
The Collaborative is working hard to reduce the infant mortality rate and improve the health and well-being of African American families of Racine, one small step at a time. I am very grateful toOTY for enabling me to be a part of their meaningful work.
Come out, have some fun. Try something new. Make a connection.
Join us at for community yoga events around town such as ...
Yoga @ the Museum, a partnership with the Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Global Mala
Yoga @ the Parks, a summer yoga program in parks in and around Milwaukee
Yoga @ Urban Island Beach Party, a collaboration with NEWaukee
Yoga @ the Library, a partnership with the Milwaukee Public Library
and mind-body-spirit programs at omTown Center.