Following is a tribute from our Founder Mary Lynn Fitton to our teachers that work with us to bring this amazing program to at-risk, exploited and incarcerated teen girls.
I am often asked what I enjoy most about our work at The Art of Yoga Project. There are so many things! At the top of the list is the way we all come together in support of these unique and wonderful girls. And what really moves me is how we care for each other in the process.
Behind the scenes, Lisa, Nicole and I are working with our incredible board to sustain our programs and there is no shortage of love going around between us. Then there are all of you, day in and day out, helping each other to be a force for good in the lives of our girls. I am often moved to tears watching and hearing you do this. So, in honor of this holiday, I want to share a few examples from your recaps. (And I had a great number to choose from!) These are your teacher-to-teacher correspondences and they make my heart swell with happiness. Note: I removed teacher names to honor privacy—and because I feel we should all take in these words collectively! I invite you to sit back and hear from each other again:
“I’m so inspired by the bravery exhibited. Beautiful class plan that obviously brought the girls to a really safe, open place. Tremendous work!”
“Your sweet attention to X’s emotional tone should be noted. While she was having a tough time engaging in the postures, there is something deeply healing in having the teachers give her space to be quiet and supported in her own way. The nurturing attention you offered, no doubt, gave her a sense of being seen. Thank you! Offering you all so much love on this Friday afternoon.”
“Dear X, thank you so much for that meditation. I could feel and hear and see the girls breathing into it, relaxing. It was dynamite. Thank you!”
“Such a beautiful class. I find so often that the girls are impacted by those immediately surrounding them, impacting their ability to participate and engage. SO great to see the ways that everyone was inspired by the challenge of bird of paradise and it seemed to ignite something within those girls who were otherwise checking out.”
“That is an immense amount of energy to hold, X and X. First with the large group (12 girls! and more arriving!) in that small space. It sounds like you both did an absolutely amazing job offering a full class with those important moments of grounding in child’s pose and balance. So sweet to hear of the shift that you observed in some of the newer girls—well done!”
“Here’s to the continued discovery, challenges and successes, ladies!”
“The emotional arrival of the new girl on the unit is such a raw reminder of what so many of these girls must feel on some level. The sense of loss, the sense of being ‘out of control,’ the sense of wanting everyone to hear your pain loud and clear. A difficult thing to witness and to see the unit staff work to maintain some sense of calm and order in that chaotic moment. It sounds like you both did exactly what you needed—focusing on keeping yourself and the girls calm (not easy!) so the staff could take care of their responsibilities. I’m glad you also had a moment to check in with Ms. B at the close and to receive her supportive feedback. I am more than happy to take some additional time to debrief the experience with either of you. Take care of yourself and be aware of your own emotional residue. Sending you and all the girls and staff so much love and light”
“That’s a beautiful write up, X. Thanks for your strong support.”
“What a wonderful class—I just feel like sharing— It is clear that the only thing you ladies can control is what you offer in your beautiful sacred space—whether they participate is less important than what they seem to consistently gain from merely being on these mats with all of your positive, meaningful intentions.”
“Girls were very engaged and sweet, with a visible shift from beginning to end. Great to finally witness X’s wonderful energy and connection with the group in the seat of the teacher! Class was so soothing…and the sounds of rain and wind outside helped to ground us all.”
“I really appreciate X’s teachings. It’s easy to see
that she authentically practices what she preaches.”
“Thank you, X! It WAS a lot of energy! And so very heartbreaking to experience such angst and sorrow and pain 🙁 Those girls. And what they endure. Wow. True goddesses, all of them. Thank you for acknowledging and appreciating both me and X. I feel so genuinely supported and cared for. In Light, Love & Gratitude, X”
And when one of you stepped forward to cover another’s shift within moments:
“X, You are ROCKIN my world!!!! Thank you so much!”
Can you feel the GRATITUDE, the SUPPORT, the LOVE and RESPECT between you?! I hope so because I feel it for each and every one of you.
When I read these words I see and feel us together. All across this work, I see us leaning on each other as we bear witness to the pain our girls endure. I see us linking arms to provide strength for the girls to draw upon. And I feel us in a big virtual-embrace celebrating our successes big and small. You are certainly rockin my world!
Sending love and wishes for a blessed holiday to each of you,