This past February, Claire Koepke volunteered at Project Alajuelita, Costa Rica. Claire's unique skill set proved incredibly useful when she was able to lead a Yoga lesson at our clinic. Below is an excerpt from her blog about the experience and we could not have done a better job capturing the energy and creativity of our volunteers and staff!
What an experience! My first attempt at teaching Yoga to a Spanish speaking crowd. The group consisted of fellow American volunteers and about seven mentally and physically disabled adults. Usually, the resident psychologist leads Art or Dance Therapy, but she was home sick. Luckily, I had the help of Dayan, the lovely volunteer coordinator. He is from Costa Rica and already had a wonderful rapport with the group. Much like instructing Yoga to kindergarteners, there was quite a lot of fooling around, giggling, and questioning. I called upon many of my Yoga teaching tricks and made up a bunch along the way. Instead of saying that we were getting our “wiggle worms” out by shaking out each individual limb, I lead by example and counted down from 10 in Spanish. They really loved this activated release and said they felt both heat and calm in their bodies.
I thought it would be fun to bring attention to our lungs and how to breathe deeply by blowing up a yellow balloon. As soon as I started letting the air out, loud farting-like noises expelled. Cue giggle fits and confusion about making sounds as we exhale. After several sun salutations, guerrero (warrior) poses, and learning how to stand tall like arboles (trees), I started to lose enthusiasm, especially with my lack of Spanish teaching vocabulary. Fellow Beyonce lover, Dayan, put on Single Ladies and we fused Yoga with expressive-Zumba-esque dancing. This is when the real fun began for me. We loosened our hips, practiced whipping our hands back 'n forth, and showed off booty dropping skills. My nervousness melted away as we used Conga lines to practice good posture and laughed at everyone's approach to twerking.
After more than an hour of vigorous movement with splashes of shoulder stretches and attention to the breath, everyone was raving about "Joga" and said their bodies and cabezas (minds) felt great. We cooled down by drawing our favorite yoga poses. At varying levels of mental intelligence, the participants poured their newfound creative movement onto paper. Almost all were proud to show off their work, ranging from dancing trees, colorful scribbles, ocean waves, warrior stick figures, and the Sun waving down to the Yoga students.
While this class was drastically different from every other class I've taught in the past, I could not be happier with the natural progression and deep presence from all of the participants.
Until next time, Casa Club!