Have you heard the call to serve?

Pima County Juvenile Detention Center Tucson, Ariz. , photo by Dean Knuth/Arizona Daily Star

Musings from the mat of service, by Jodi Weiner, Executive Director


Serving youth is a call  – like a sirens call, some of us vibrate at the level of hearing it and feeling it in our gut. We have earned this access to hear it, feel it.

It wasn’t easy.

It was a path of pain, denial, numbing behaviors, darkness, fear, guilt, shame and more. But…some of us took the time and looked at what we had stuffed in the closet from youth, from heartaches, and heartbreaks of all kinds. We earned the ability to hear this call in spite of our past. Some will call them scars, tragic lessons,  – we call them gifts, triumphs, badges of honor. We are able to look at the events that shaped us, carved us into messengers of healing and light and not find pity, anger, guilt or shadows. Many of us who are on the healing path have released them back to their owners.

We have been guided by kind words, by someone’s life, by a story or whatever the energy that brings us to this apex of self exploration. However we arrived there, coincidence, divine timing, God’s grace…we get there. Through safety and wisdom, experience and challenge, we examined the closeted contents of our past just enough so we could turn that “mess” into our message of the heart. Some may call this a purpose.

And then…we share them as moments of connection. Now we can see the left over imprints as a source of connective moments that help us understand why it’s hard to make eye contact, why taking a spot in the corner is easier, why, just sitting and not trying is a comfort zone. WE KNOW – WE LIVED IT – WE SEE YOU. WITH. NO.JUDGMENT.

Join us on this journey that will give you more than your heart’s capacity to understand. It’s through service that our heart shines brightest. Service looks different too many. For Yoga Gangsters – it’s throwin’ down a yoga mat with no special brand name on it, it’s eye contact with those who will allow it, it’s the warmth of the smile and the permission to guide them into a deeper pose. For us, it’s not the asana but the  intention, effort, courage and heart each one of them give us…eventually. Ever try not to breathe in when you have a vibrant bright eyed peaceful yogi in front of you inviting your breath?? Yeah…try that – see if you can resist the connection!

We play, we get creative, we tire them out when they need it and invite them into presence with our messages of empowerment, hope, choice, love, patience and acceptance. We find our light explosive after spending an hour in service – sometimes our shadows poke at us; “did I do it right?” “did they like my music?” did I say the wrong thing?” “Was I good enough?” Yeah – that is the reality of service – your SH*T shows up – but we are Yoga Gangsters and we are resourced and know exactly how to tap into our community of support. We know our team is always a phone call away, so we sit with the discomfort knowing these kids sit with the same feelings. Then we regroup, we get grounded and do it all over again the next week. It’s not how high the back bend goes, or straight the handstand is, for Yoga Gangsters, it’s all about the connection and planting seeds in the heart.

The youth get our heart and time  one hour per week for 6 weeks. We get changed, permanently.

We hope you join us on this journey of healing.  

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