If you stop by Bread for the City’s Northwest Center lobby at noon on Thursdays, you will usually be treated to quite the sight: a dozen rainbow-colored yoga mats, a quiet lobby, and a mix of clients and staff stretching out for this week’s yoga lesson. Debbie Sheetz generously volunteers her time and skills to teach this weekly class at the Northwest Center, which is open for anyone to join free of charge — even I was offered a mat, though I doubted my ability to do sun salutations in a skirt.
Before the class got under way, I had a chance to talk to some of the students about why they participated in Bread’s yoga class. One woman told me that yoga is good for the body; she said the stretching helped to keep her calm. Another woman told me that the weekly yoga classes helped her cope with her depression and balance problems. She has been attending the classes since February, and in the four months since, she’s moved from participating in a chair to having the flexibility to do the poses on the mat — a wonderful accomplishment!
After observing the class, and doing a bit of stretching myself, I got a chance to talk to Debbie about her experiences teaching yoga at Bread for the City:
How did you first get involved with Bread for the City?
I found Bread for the City through an organization, Yoga Activist, that helps connect yoga teachers with volunteer and community work, and I started teaching classes just over two years ago.
What have you done as a volunteer?
I teach yoga classes every Thursday at noon at the Northwest Center, and I also teach the occasional day-long retreat for clients.
Why do you think your work is important?
Everyone can benefit from yoga, and making it accessible to everyone is important. Yoga can stop feelings of stress and improve your quality of life, and that should be accessible without spending so much money. I can see the benefits of yoga in my life and in others, and I want to be able to share that with others. There are so many ways to volunteer, to do something you enjoy, and seeing people’s reactions to your work is what keeps you going.
What do you like about volunteering with Bread for the City?
The staff at Bread are supportive, and everything is organized and well run. I feel like everyone’s efforts are being maximized, and everyone is enjoyable to work with. Also, I feel like Bread for the City is a holistic organization, where the staff participates with the clients and community members. The clients are wonderful, from the core group who do yoga every week to those who just drop by, everyone is so appreciative.
Despite all the noise around us, you can find time to focus on what is inside you, and let everything else become the background. You can do yoga anywhere, you don’t need a studio. I just think yoga is fulfilling, there isn’t any radical change in your life, but it changes the quality of your life. And it helps to help others.
We thank Debbie for her contributions as a volunteer yoga instructor at Bread for the City. If you’d like to join her class, please stop by the Northwest Center on Thursdays at noon. All are welcome and the class is free!