The Street Yoga training is finished and I am drained. The feeling of exhaustion comes from a few places. Part of it is because things with my family always seems to get a little wound up and crazy when I do these longer workshops and I’m away from the house more (especially with the little one, who often responds by not sleeping well and having “Mama, I’m angry at you!!!” tantrums). The other part is just because the subject matter covered in the workshop was kind of intense.
During the weekend we talked about rape, violence, addiction, jail, trauma, teen pregnancy, behavioral problems, disease, homelessness, abuse of all kinds.. We taught mock classes and scenarios showing us how things could go sideways. They explained to us how we could calm or maintain a sense of order in a class that might seem like complete chaos in comparison to a regular yoga class. We heard stories of what can happen and why certain behavior shows up.. and how yoga can be a great tool for this population despite an often low interest in yoga from the actual students themselves.
We talked about our own self care, stress management, working with organizations to facilitate an sense of structure with this population and support for ourselves. We talked about using yoga for ourselves, as the givers, not just yoga as a tool for the students.
By the end of the workshop I couldn’t shake the feeling of “Can I actually do this? Maybe this is too much… too intense or me“. I suspect in the room many others were feeling a similar sentiment.
Although I greatly enjoyed the knowledge shared I have really noticed that trauma centered training’s do tend to prepare you for the worst. It’s a good thing.. really.. I believe that anyone intending on working with marginalized or traumatized populations should be aware of what they are getting themselves into. However, somehow it is very difficult for these workshops to actually express the great joy, reward and sense of purpose that can also come with doing this sort of work. Not every day is a bad day.. and when there are success stories, no matter how small… they are so fulfilling and rich. This work can be draining but it can also be nourishing and incredibly full of value. In my own life experience I have found there is a raw honesty that can be found on the streets. Genuine connection happens and great compassion and beauty can surface in these unexpected environments.
So I gently remind myself of that coming out of this training… I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to get it all right. As long as I show up, remaining true to my message, centered in myself and maintaining reliability, professionalism and honesty it will be okay. I do want to do this work despite the challenges.