With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s no surprise studios are giving back.
At Serenity Yoga in South Hadley, Massachusetts, the “Will Teach Yoga for Food” Thanksgiving Day class has been a hit the past six years. Owner Michele Lyman said she got the idea from Sheila Magalhaes, the owner of Heartsong Yoga in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.
“When I opened Serenity, I sent [Sheila] an email saying, ‘Hey, I love what you do for your community on Thanksgiving morning. Would it be OK if I stole it?’ And she said ‘Yes, steal away. The more people we can help the better,’” said Lyman.
The class takes place on Thanksgiving Day and is 1.5 hours of yoga for all levels. Lyman said it’s a great class for newbies to try as well. In terms of payment, Lyman simply asks each student to bring what he or she can for the town’s local food pantry.
“The whole concept is really to ask folks to come and while they’re having their own give-back moment to themselves, they’re actually instead of paying me as the studio owner to teach the class, they’re actually giving back to the community,” she said.
Food is powerful, said Lyman. She explained it can bring happiness and comfort. To her, it’s important to give back through food, helping nourish those in need.
Over the past six years of hosting the class, Lyman said her students have loved participating in it. Plus being located near a college, professors will bring students who are away from home for the holidays, letting them often taste yoga for the first time.
“In our society right now, a lot of people are looking to do good. And for yoga studios, we have the opportunity to provide that to them. It doesn’t have to be a politically charged thing, and it doesn’t have to involve a lot of bells and whistles to make it stand out and be awesome for the participants,” said Lyman. “It just can be simple, easy and beneficial to the people that you’re trying to help. I would say find a local cause that you are passionate about and then encourage your community to participate.”
Passion is a big factor in determining whether or not to offer a holiday class like Lyman has at Serenity studio. She explained you need to find something you are interested in doing and that it doesn’t have to be a big thing. Every little bit helps.
That’s what she tells her students when they come to the Thanksgiving class. They don’t need to bring much, just what they can. But she’s often found they are generous. And as an added bonus, it grounds students before they get hectic with the holidays. “Even if their turkey is in the oven, they can pop over, do this class and then get back to whatever they need to do,” said Lyman. “So it doesn’t take up all day, it’s not a huge giant thing, but we do encourage folks to come because it’s a really nice way for them to start their day.”
Check out what these other studios are doing to celebrate Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving Gratitude Flow at Forever Yoga
Gratitude Feast: A Thanksgiving Community Event at Our Yoga Home
Thanksgiving Hot Powerful Flow at Inner Bliss Yoga Studio