Urban Lotus Project is excited to announce a new addition to our blog, the Featured Teacher. Each month we will interview one of our yoga instructors. These are the individuals that are out in the community providing trauma-informed classes in juvenile detention, treatment hospitals, schools and halfway homes.
A note from Founder & Director, Hannah B:
I am thrilled to share our first Featured Teacher blog and highlight the incredible work Amy has done for Urban Lotus Project! Amy was ULP's first teacher besides myself. Her role in helping structure our yoga programs has been essential in our growth and development. Although Amy has since moved from Reno, her legacy still lives on in ULP culture. The questions and answers below were from a conversation we had upon her leaving he organization. Thanks, Amy!
Q: When we first started collaborating and you began teaching for ULP, what did you expect moving forward with this tiny nonprofit start up?
A: I knew that there was a need and a want in Reno. When we had our first meeting you were already leading a handful of classes each week and there were more people knocking on your door. With that in mind I knew that ULP would expand to fill that need.
Q: What do you think about ULP’s reach/effect now?
A: I think one of the most powerful things that ULP has done, and is still doing, is calling upon the yoga community of Reno to get involved and give back. Watching this community come together and show up in a tangible way for youth that would otherwise be forgotten is super powerful. And I think what makes ULP effective is the well organized support that founder, Hannah Bias, orchestrates to make sure teachers have all the tools they need to be compassionate, informed, trauma-sensitive instructors.
Q: What makes teaching yoga in this capacity interesting or fulfilling to you?
A: Teaching yoga in this setting is fulfilling because I genuinely believe our youth deserve high quality opportunities for thoughtful self-development. I think that trauma-sensitive yoga creates a space for youth to build self-awareness, practice emotional regulation, as well as build strength and flexibility in the mind and body. There are many paths to self-acceptance and personal growth; yoga has had a tremendous effect on my well-being and sharing this practice with young people feels like the right thing to do with that awareness.
Q: What is different about your ULP classes versus other yoga classes you teach?
A: In a studio, the students wait for you to teach. In a ULP class, the teacher waits for the students to teach.
Q: Do you have a fond memory you can share with us from one of your ULP classes?
A: I have dozens of fond memories. The last few weeks at Willow Springs were hard on myself and on the students. There were a few students that had been coming consistently for a couple months and had taken on a more serious interest in the practice of yoga. I had made them workbooks with copied pages from different yogic texts with some philosophy, some breathing techniques, and a handful of basic routines drawn out so they could practice between our sessions. On my last day one of the students had made me a card that said, “Thank you, Amy.” The letters of the words were made from people doing yoga! The student had used the copies I made as a template to spell out the text. My heart swells thinking about it.
Q: What are your hopes for the future of ULP and other similar programs around the country?
A: My hope is more and more people engage in mindfulness practices! Now that I am in grad school I’d love to see more research on these types of programs so that they can become increasingly effective for clients.
Q: Lastly, as you move on to your next chapter, what words of advice do you have for other ULP teachers?
A: Patience. Presence. Know that you are their student, not the other way around. And do your research! Stay up to date on best-practices! Challenge yourself to continuously adjust your classes given new information. Be willing to be uncomfortable. Make time for self-care so you can show up without distraction for your students. Be genuinely you.
By ULP Blogger, Holley Garrick