Elizabeth Peters, HYS RYT200 Participant, chose to complete her SEVA project by helping out as a Human Animal Bond in Colorado volunteer at the Centre Rehab in Fort Collins, CO. Below are her reflections on the experience:
Reflection on volunteering with HABIC
By Elizabeth Peters RYT200 Participant
For the past eight months Wesley has donned his special red vest as he prepares to visit the residents and staff at Centre Rehab in Fort Collins. Wesley is my 4 year old Labrador. He and I are volunteers with HABIC (Human Animal Bond in Colorado). He has been specially trained as a therapy dog to interact with those who desire his company.
Once a week, Wesley and I spend about an hour walking the halls at the rehab facility, stopping to visit those who request our presence and sometimes even those who Wesley just believes needs his presence. During our visits we have experienced the joy of listening to stories from the residents and staff about their pets, their families and their life experiences. Sometimes these stories involve tears of sadness and sometimes these stories involve tears of happier times. The reason doesn’t matter to Wesley; he calmly allows his clients to pet him, scratch behind his ears, and hug him as they tell their story.
When I began taking classes with HABIC, my main intention was just to train Wesley – as he possessed very few manners. He knew the basics and would do just about anything for a treat, but I really wanted more from our relationship. When Wesley graduated from therapy dog school, we were placed at Centre Rehab. Our visits to the Centre have become something the residents and staff look forward to each week. Some have told us that we are the highlight of their day. I had no idea that while we were placed at Centre Rehab that I, too, would receive something very special return.
It was never my intention to get anything out of this venture but to give by bringing my dog to visit and hopefully brighten the day of those who chose to interact with him. I have been blessed and gifted, however, with the indescribable feeling of pure happiness when we visit. Wesley and I look forward to our visits each week for the special time of giving and receiving it brings.
Yoga means union. This experience is so much more than just a pet visit. It brings people together with a special buddy who is present, without judgement or expectations. Wesley is in the present moment for whatever is needed of his presence. I feel so much gratitude coming from the people we visit and from myself for being allowed to be in that moment with each of them.
Being associated with HABIC as a therapy dog team is simply a mechanism to actualize this incredible interaction, and it is my belief that these types of encounters are truly meant to be and are guided by the universe. This quote from Richard Miller helps to explain my thought: “Yoga is bringing together that which was never separate.” So true – as these encounters feel so right and meant to be.
Lala Scriven, HYS RYT200 Participant, chose to complete her Seva project by helping at a Llama farm that had significant storm damage after the September 2013 Floods that occurred in Fort Collins. Below are her reflections on the experience:
Reflection on Alpaca Project
By Lala Scriven RYT200 Participant
Helping clean up debris and tear down demolished fences was such a rewarding experience to be a part of. About a dozen individuals of all ages came together to lend a hand, and a muscle or two, to get the work done. Although there is plenty more work to be done in order for all of the Alpacas to be able to return home & live safely, the supportive energy that radiated through the group was amazing.
The flooding that occurred throughout CO made a tremendous impact on the home & surrounding lands for these animals. Although none of them were harmed, all but three are currently living elsewhere. This is b/c the fences aren’t strong enough to keep any predators away yet the three that remain are in good hands as they are highly protected by an amazing pair of watch dogs. On the farm, one of the owners is a textile artist and has a studio where she uses the fiber from the Alpacas into wearable art. Yet, until the animals are back on the farm & her studio is up and running again, her beautiful creations are on hold.
The word yoga means union. Although the other individuals helping weren’t necessarily reflecting on this yoga moment, unconsciously they were practicing yoga off the mat. No ego was involved in the event as we were all present in the moment, tackling one job at a time, and working together with the same end result in mind. Yoga brings you back to yourself. It reminded me when I was a kid and would go out into the woods where my parents would cut wood for winter. I would wander around the creeks, gazing at the trees, leaves, and wildlife. Just being in the moment. Helping the Alpaca farm recreated this memory for me and it was a special experience that I will always remember.
This is a beautiful hike in the Poudre Canyon filled with meadow, forest, and mountain top views. It is a half-day hike taking about 2-3 hours to get all the way to the top and there is some moderate intensity hiking/boulder-ing near the summit.
All are welcome to join in on this free event, so invite your friends and family!
Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash at all times.
Please RSVP to email@example.com
Have you ever noticed the way that plant roots look like veins? So do rivers flowing to the sea, when viewed from high altitudes. We can easily grasp on to these images and then our minds attach the meaning. Roots, veins, rivers; they appear similar and serve the same purpose: nourishment, growth, new life. On a less-tangible level, we can visualize seeds of human intellect sprouting into roots after being nourished by the rivers of knowledge and wisdom. In the same way that a tree seed sprouts and can eventually nourish a prodigious expanse of leaves and bark, the seeds planted in a child’s experience will grow in to the future of humankind. Children benefit from care, guidance, nutrition and love so they can grow and expand.
Kids. They’re the most wise people on the planet. It might sound outlandish to some, but to me, it’s truth. My theory is that kids are closer to the seed and the original roots of human existence, naturally connected to a deep state of understanding. I look at children as precious beings who have the capacity to grow like sponges depending upon their surroundings. I wish that all societies would appreciate their gifts, and encourage kids to flourish into brilliantly luminous adults who contribute to the greater good.
I’ve been traveling through Central America since 2009, teaching yoga at various beautiful locations in the jungles and on the coasts. I feel honored to be able to step in to these cultures which are, overall, abundant with amazing art, food, nature, people, families, farms and communities. However, as my work moves me from Nicaragua, Guatemala to Mexico a couple of times each year, I have noticed an unsettling trend. Often in the impoverished areas where tourism is high, the children are not encouraged to go to school, have fun, be creative, and play. Rather, they’re sent to the streets, ports and docks, to sell souvenirs and the like. In some places the kids spend their days following the tourists, begging for food, often scared into making a minimum-wage for the day to bring home to their families. The cultures have adapted in a manner so that it is often viewed as acceptable and normal for kids as young as four to spend their time working, while the parents are not employed.
There’s also a big alcohol problem among adults in some of these areas. Many of the parents do not work, since they send the kids out to make the daily wages. Instead they tend to stay home and drink a dangerous form of cheaply-produced and highly-addictive alcohol. This is a vicious cycle of childhood illiteracy, adulthood unemployment and alcoholism.
The issues are vast and there are political, social, economic and ethical considerations. On the small-scale, I find it difficult to know how to respond to the children, and I feel called to do something to help.
So, I started purchasing and handing out children’s books and art supplies as I traveled. When the kids approach me to sell or beg, I respond by handing them books, paper and pens. I think that this may help, little by little, to promote literacy and hopefully broaden their opportunities. Over the past year I’ve distributed literacy materials to children in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico.
I would love to get more people involved in this project, including our Holistic Yoga School community of teachers and students. If you are interested in becoming a literacy distribution point ANYwhere there are kids in need, we’d love to know about your intentions and help get you started. To make a donation which will be used to purchase the books and materials, please click here.
A portion of all revenue from Holistic Yoga School is invested in this project and other nonprofit literacy projects across the world. So, another way you can support is through participation in HYS classes, retreats and courses.
I hope this information can not only raise awareness for the kids internationally, but also encourage each of us to spend quality time with the children in our own lives, feeding their growth and supporting their spirits. Thank you for reading and getting involved!
Coming Soon: Programs to Promote Conscious Travel & Tourism…
Shanti Om – Peace – Peace – Peace
Location: The Center for Light & Balance
2415 East Mulberry Street Unit 11, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80524 (map)
(SE Corner of Mulberry & Timberline, shares a storefront with “Heinsight Solutions”)