by Shaunna Cullen
YWCA New Britain’s Family Literacy program offers ESL and GED classes to mothers and provides engaging learning activities and childcare for their children. But it is also so much more.
Barbara Heidenis, Coordinator for the Family Literacy program, said there was a focus group held last spring where the idea of offering yoga to the students was suggested. The students confirmed that they would be interested in adding a yoga component to the program.
Fast forward to 2016: once a week in the later morning hours, a group of women gather in the gym to practice yoga together. This class is offered exclusively to the participants of the Family Literacy program. It offers a quiet, private space and a healthy outlet to relieve stress.
At this time, the Family Literacy program has a little over 60 students. More than half of them attend the yoga class. Some students are first-time yogis, while other students have practiced before and were excited to pick up the exercise once again.
While there are many different kinds of yoga, such as Kripalu or Bikram, the yoga taught to these students is one in its own. The instructor, Chaucey Perrault, owns and operates a company called Yoga For Change. Her classes are more of a targeted yoga; the series of postures is taught to many different populations that helps ease stress. The instructor is teaching a parent/child together class, and is showing the mothers yoga exercises they can continue practicing with their children at home as well.
The women say that after the yoga class they feel more flexible, are able to move better, and have become more relaxed. The benefits of the class extend beyond the class itself, to the positive impact it has on the overall health and wellness of the students, the relationship between the mothers and their children, and the family as a whole.