I have been a Dahn Yoga member for 4 years now and am involved in several classes that are being taught at no cost in the Greater Boston area. Some of these classes
have been running for 7-10 years. When I realized that the average member at the center has no idea about these classes are happening, I decided to share about them. They have been such a special experience. Here is a brief glimpse.
The longest on-going class (started in 2000 by Danielle Gaudette, Boston Regional Director of Dahn Yoga Centers) takes place at the Sunrise Assisted Living Center in Arlington. Once a week, we hold a class in the community room with 10-12 residents attending. Several BMC graduates alternate weeks of teaching, and the staff frequently attend if their work schedule permits. The activities director tells us how much the residence look forward to our visit, and the volunteer instructors share the same.
The class at the community health center in Dorchester has also been ongoing for many years (since 2003?). It is geared towards people suffering with diabetes. I have been responsible for it for the past 3 years. Many are Cape Verde natives who don’t speak much English, and overtime we have learned to communicate without words.
I have grown to love these wonderful souls. The experience is much than doing stretching exercise and relaxation. I believe we have built a small community of trust and oneness of spirit. I have seen remarkable changes in several of the patients. The class has become a real part of their lives. They care about each other and have started taking responsibility for their health. Their moods have lifted and we have started teaching each other our native language. To hear an 80 year old Cape Verde woman count to 10 one day in English gave me great joy.
One of the members has even taken Shim Sung, has started taking classes at a Dahn Center and assists with class at the community center. My goal is to see more patients
attend Shim Sung and even to see some of the staff take the workshop.
An similar project has be initiated at a community health center in Jamaica Plain. The participants of this class are spanish speaking women suffering from depression.
The American Red Cross Blood Services hosts another outreach program. Class is offered 3 different times per week. Staff members attend from various departments. Recently the class has been formatted to allow staff to attend either a half hour of stretching and breathing or to stay and participate in the second half of relaxation and energy accumulation so more can participate.
As a result of this outreach, the first workplace Shim Sung in New England was held at Red Cross last February, with 10 people attending. The Red Cross supported the staff by paying a portion of the workshop cost and attendees who were nurses received continuing ed credits.
All of these outreach projects have offered a great opportunity for growth and a way to share with the community. The joy and satisfaction experienced is immeasurable. Seeing the smiling faces, sincere appreciation, and the relaxed mental and physical state of the staff and patients is a great reward.
Barbara Maffeo is a BMC graduate and instructor of Dahn Yoga. She is a nurse and works for the Red Cross.