By Sunny Rucker
Hridaya Yoga has been based in Mazunte, Mexico since 2012. It’s so beautiful here—the stunning land, the breathtaking sea, and the warm people. As we have gone deeper in the Heart, we have felt the longing for a more profound connection to everything around us. This yearning has led us to become more transparent, available, and active in the local community. These efforts began a little over a year ago, when Alba started teaching yoga to local children. Beata continued this service, and now there is a department of the school devoted to community outreach. I serve as the Community Bridge, guiding this work, and I’m joined by Hannah, our first Karma Yogi (whose position will be up for grabs in April). Connecting in this way has been very beautiful and we are excited to share what’s been going on!
We currently work in three local schools. At the Mazunte Kindergarten, we present meditation and yoga in a very dynamic way. We teach children aged 3-5 to recognize the Heart and encourage their bodies and minds to become more transparent instruments. We’ve been sharing with the children here for over a year and are now offering yoga classes to a very happy group of mothers and teachers.
At the San Agustinillo Primary School, we do values workshops with kids aged 6-10. Through activities and discussions, we feel into goodness, gratitude, aspiration, compassion, empathy, perseverance, humility, etc. When we begin to experience these qualities personally, it naturally follows that we want them to be more prevalent in our lives. Therefore, it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to do these explorations with children, who are intuitively connected to the essence of these values. Parents have not only been pleased with the effects the workshops have had on their children, but are curious to experience their power themselves. So, they have decided to begin their own values discussion groups after Semana Santa.
Our work at the primary school level has been so transformative that we will soon offer values workshops at Mazunte Primary as well.
At the local secondary school, we’ve started a language/culture exchange program with students ages 11-16. Three times per week, members of the Hridaya Community visit English classes and work with small groups of students. The number of volunteers means that each group has only 2-5 students, which creates an intimate space for sharing, learning, and confidence building. We share English, they share Spanish, and we all laugh a lot. This has proven to be a very positive way for people of different cultures to interact. And, since these students are likely to be the next generation of local leaders, it’s great that they can experience foreign visitors as kind and eager to share with them. We love learning from them and their sweet ways as well! As our relationship with the school deepens, an afterschool yoga course or activities with parents and teachers may be organized.
Other Community Projects
In addition to our school-based outreach, we do many other things in the community:
- Every Seva Day we collaborate with the health clinic to provide whatever support they need.
- We keep our list of local accommodations up-to-date in order to advertise those that don’t have a web presence.
- We are getting to know the elders—recording their stories for an oral history book.
- We have put on several workshops at the library, with topics ranging from caring for the environment to movement and music.
- We are learning from and collaborating with Piña Palmera, a local non-profit working with the disabled population.
- We play our part in local festivals, helping to set up, cleaning up afterward, and/or offering yogic teachings.
Offerings at the Hridaya Center
At the Hridaya Yoga Center, we are also trying to become more aware of where we are and to offer more to the local community. During every Hridaya Module course cycle, we present a brief but power-packed talk about the current and past realities of the local area, the state of Oaxaca, and Mexico in general. Local Nawat experts are also sharing with us, and we are trying to learn the wisdom of this land and incorporate it into our teachings.
We have expanded our course offerings, with meditations and Hatha Yoga drop-ins now regularly presented in Spanish. Our 3-Day Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreats in Spanish are increasingly popular and Valentina will offer our first 10-day retreat in Spanish from April 27-May 6, 2018. As we are aware that members of the local community may not have the resources to pay our regular prices, all Spanish-language offerings are donation-based. To support our foreign students’ integration in the community, we also host weekly Spanish Circles for both beginners and intermediate speakers.
We continue to expand our list of Seva Day tasks so we can be more active in the community. Participants in the Karma Yoga Immersion Course are doing 12 hours of direct service towards this goal as well. Additionally, we sell locally-produced items in our new store at El Corazón and are creating biographies of each artisan to accompany their products. We are also planning a Mothers’ Day brunch for local women as well as more open-house type activities. Finally, we are working on developing a “Hridaya Kids” curriculum so that these teachings can be shared with children everywhere.
So much awesomeness! We are enjoying following the Heart and experiencing its light in all, co-creating opportunities for sharing and blossoming. Stay tuned, as this department keeps evolving, offering more ways to get involved…
Sunny is a Hridaya Yoga teacher serving as our Community Bridge.