by Pamela Grondski
As we head into colder weather, I reflect on this past summer and all the opportunities it afforded us (as a community) to create connection. One of which was a collaboration that I was a part of leading, through Original Propaganda Athletic Club, with Nike back in June to bridge love of movement in more than a singular form; spanning areas of run, walk, yoga, and breath. Holding space for anyone to join in – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and all the like.
To preface, I practice and teach a lineage of yoga that is to act in humble and devotional service, with great love. Every person has a gift. It is our responsibility to share these gifts, with great love and without attachment. That means, offering the gift wholly from the heart, without seeking anything in return.
Additionally, I have practiced as an athletic trainer for north of a decade – encompassing people of various shapes, sizes, colors, creeds, ages, religions, and backgrounds. Throughout this journey, I have learned that creating a safe space is integral for healing in any capacity – injury and trauma know no bounds.
To create this space, we dove into vital questions of “who?,” “where?” and “why?.” I studied at Temple and am truly grateful for all that I learned while spending that time in North Philadelphia. One thing I looked back on heavily was that although there has been excessive gentrification and expansion, the accessibility of yoga in that area is minimal at best. In speaking with members of the community, it is not for lack of interest. Trying something new in a safe space is where self–exploration and growth happens. In short, I would be in the role of a yoga teacher for the event, but I was merely the vessel – this experience was not about me. It was going to be a wellness experience centered around trust in one’s self. Rooted in love, with love, for the North Philadelphia community.
Now, imagine wanting to try something new, then the feeling of unfamiliar sets in. The internal dialogue revolving around said experience begins before even filling out the sign–up form. Then comes questions like “do I have what is needed?,” “who else is showing up?,” and the like, start to unfurl. Some may even have doubt about the purpose of the activity or their own abilities!
This is where I invite everyone to find pause.
Take a beat.
Take a breath.
The beauty of that day is that every participant realized they already had what they needed! They showed up for themselves in so many ways! Every person inherently knows what movements feel good in their own skin. Anything else perceived as “needed” is simply a support.
In running, support might be sneakers.
In yoga, support might be a mat and a block.
Just as there is material support, we also found spiritual support in one another, which fostered a safe and unifying space. We had music specially curated to set the tone, breathwork to ground us, and a yoga teacher to add a touch of spice for flavor. Spending extra time in different poses to explore and taking time to feel out movements was highly encouraged. All who participated were offered to leave with a journal to jot down any thoughts/feelings/ideas that surfaced during and after that day – hopefully, they discovered something new about themselves on the journey.
A huge thank you to one of OPAC’s cabinet members, who is a teacher at the People for People Charter School and became a key component to getting the gears in motion for us to host an offering of this capacity in such a beautiful location. In that we were able to serve the community through walking, running, mindful and accessible movement – all by way of breath. The energy from that day was palpable.
To all who attended, thank you again for trusting me with your body and allowing me to serve you.