By Martha, Ourmala’s Yoga co-ordinator –
This past Sunday we had the good fortune of a sunny winter’s day at Hackney City farm, home of Ourmala. Children and families were arriving full of smiles and enthusiasm for the farm. While we, yoga teachers, were equally enthralled to learn more about Ourmala on the Refugee Awareness training Day.
Our founder, Emily, opened with a class mirroring the style we teach at Ourmala. The class is based on Ashtanga with a high degree of flexibility to create a sanctuary for women from the rigours of daily life, allow newcomers the opportunity to try yoga, a safe space to breathe, and of course the opportunity to practice yoga, and progress. The nuances of an Ourmala yoga class are very clear when you are inside the classroom. Encouragement, nurturing, attention and discipline. And above all, there are choices and options to give students the power to decide what is right for them.
After numerous engaging discussions about best practices for teaching refugees and asylum seekers, we were then introduced to Heather Mason, founder of The Minded Institute. Her presentation clearly explained some of the physical effects of PTSD on the brain and the positive effects of yoga. All of these principles are incorporated into the Ourmala classes and it was welcome to understand why.
The 12 participating students came from a variety of yoga backgrounds, some are teachers, some are hoping to teach. But above all, we are yoga students who know that our practice is a privilege and one we want to share with a larger and less fortunate community. Ourmala opens the doors for us to be able to do this. With a new community of teachers, ready and waiting, it is only a matter of time, and funding, before we will open more classes and start to make a difference in the lives of more refugee women.
“Today was great! Thank you so much. All of the topics covered were interesting and relevant. Really enjoyed the yoga class at the beginning… totally want to get involved… your compassion for what you are doing came across amazingly !!!” — L.
“I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It’s just amazing work and I’d love to be involved. The whole day was fascinating day and brilliantly presented.” — A.