My intention for Community Yoga Project is to honor the struggle and the strength within each of us and to create space for whole people to thrive. I am sharing my story in order to illustrate how I came to this intention.
When I was 18, there was an illness in my family; this is what brought me to yoga. As part of the healing process, I began going to yoga classes as a way of supporting my family. I immediately fell in love with the practice. Growing up, I never liked the competitive nature of sports. In fifth grade, I spirally fractured my tibia thus causing me years of knee pain which til this day I still attend to. Due to this injury and my dislike of sports, I had shame in my body and my perceived lack of ability. Yoga transformed this shame into love as I was given space to accept my body as is and explore it from the starting point of wholeness. Being, breathing, stretching to my ability; that was enough. I became more confident in my abilities as well as compassionate towards the pains in my body.
When I entered college, I continued to practice yoga on a regular basis, relying on that time to ground myself amongst the hecticness of my college life. A few years later, I decided I wanted to deepen my knowledge of yoga so I decided to partake in a 200-hr teacher training. This time period was full of change and transformation for me as I learned better ways to care for myself and ways to share this care with others. I remember one of the first requirements was to meditate on a daily basis. I went up to the teacher and told him, “Meditation isn’t for me. I think its boring.” He responded, “Maybe try looking behind the boredom.” What I discovered is that behind my boredom were many fears, especially fear of being with myself and with my thoughts. Realizing this created a profound shift for me; I now find comfort in my regular meditation practice where I cultivate a loving relationship towards myself and my thoughts.
One thing that was difficult for me in my first teacher training was the lack of conversation around privilege and access. I felt that I could not bring my full self into the training and that compelled me to think about other ways to engage with yoga. After completing the teacher training, I decided to create a yoga project committed towards my values of social justice and healing. I spent months nannying in the afternoon and sitting in cafes in the morning writing out a grant for Community Yoga Project. I was accepted to the first round of interviews; I had never been so nervous for an interview in my life. A week later, I was notified that I had received the Judith Lee Stronach Prize for Community Yoga Project. I was ecstatic! My dream and vision were becoming a reality.
For the next year, I partnered with several social justice organizations and taught classes at their site on a weekly basis. I have learned so much from this process about service, society, myself, energy, holding space for others, yoga, illness, mental health, homelessness, history, trauma, intergenerational trauma and more. However, the most profound thing I have learned is how to truly love myself and have compassion for myself. I am grateful to each and every one of my students for allowing me to guide them in yoga and for the way they have guided me in this journey of love and compassion. I am forever grateful.
I now would love the opportunity to continue this work. I feel so blessed to have had all the experiences of the last year, both challenges and positive outcomes. I have felt such openness to my offering of yoga classes and have felt huge transformations in the life of my students. Because of all the thoughtful comments students have shared with me, I feel compelled and committed to this community work of increasing access to healing and wellness practices. Thank you for witnessing my story and being part of what makes my vision and dreams a reality.
Background about CYP: In May 2013, Maya Weir received a grant, UC Berkeley's Judith Lee Stronach Prize, in order to provide a year-long social justice yoga project. Community Yoga Project’s mission was to increase access to the practice of yoga by holding classes at various social justice organizations in the East Bay Area. Providing access to the transformative and powerful practice of yoga aimed to improve the emotional and physical health and wellness of marginalized communities in the East Bay. Maya partnered with the following organizations: Phat Beets Produce, North County Women’s Center via Berkeley Food and Housing, Causa Justa: Just Cause, Bushrod Community Center, Dover Park, Planting Justice, Oakland Rising, Communities for a Better Environment at Tassafaronga Recreation Center, Headstart, and Willie Keyes Recreation Center.
If the funds are successfully raised, Maya will continue Community Yoga Project for the next 10 months with a new partner, Bay Area Community Services (BACS). She will teach yoga at several of their wellness centers in Oakland, Hayward and Fremont. The overarching goal of the Wellness Centers is to engage participants who are actively working on their recovery and to build an individualized wellness plan so that they can reduce or eliminate reliance on the public mental health system and live lives that are healthy, fun, and active by creating natural supports around them. Yoga could be an integral part of these services. For more information visit: http://bayareacs.org/creative_living_centers.html. Maya’s ultimate vision is to spread yoga and wellness classes to all who wish to participate so that it is truly accessible and to create a world where health, healing and connection are at the center of our day to day lives.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge not including raising the actual funds will be the distribution of prizes. I appreciate your patience in advance! Also, if you can clearly write down your email address, instagram name and facebook name that would be a big help!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)