Practicing with the Women at Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition – Yoga at Work!

IMCHC yoga

Blanca, Sheila, Lisa, Kelly, and Melissa ready to start practice. 

For the past several weeks I’ve had the pleasure of teaching yoga to the women at Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (IMCHC). IMCHC is a statewide organization based in Chicago that works to improve the health of women, children, and families through community engagement, partnerships, policy analysis, education, and advocacy. I worked at IMCHC as a Project Coordinator with the Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers when I first moved to Chicago and knew that it was a workplace full of passionate, hard-working individuals. When I began teaching yoga, IMCHC was one of the places I wanted to take my teaching skills to share what I’d learned about boosting energy, self-care, and relaxation. Thankfully, the staff was excited to share their practice!

For some of the participants, this was their first introduction to yoga, others had practiced on and off for years. We practiced together once a week for a month. My highest hope was that yoga would provide a time and space for these health care advocates to care for themselves, challenge themselves in a different way, and interact with one another outside of the normal work context.

Take a look at what they thought of the experience:

Practicing yoga definitely made me feel energized and I think I had a better attitude as a result. . . . Plus, I liked the idea that I’d done something productive with my lunch break.
– Divya, Communications Director

I found that I had much better posture, which greatly diminish aches and pains at the end of the work day. I also sleep much better on yoga days! . . . I have been struggling with stress in the last few weeks and I was surprised at how yoga helped me to clear my head, re-center, and handle stress in a much healthier way.
– Kathy, Health Reform Outreach Coordinator

It was great to interact with coworkers outside of traditional work infrastructure.
– Kelly, Project Coordinator, Chicago-Area Immunization Campaign

I felt really relaxed and happy. . . .  I usually go home and veg after work on Fridays, I felt more prone to socializing after work on yoga days.
– Anna, Project Coordinator, Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers

Even though I thought I felt fine before yoga, after my yoga practice my body felt more relaxed. While I was doing yoga, I could feel certain parts of my body needed some love and stretching. . . . I think that it is great that our office can come together to relax and do yoga. It also made the class more fun because we all knew each other.
-Melissa, Senior Project Coordinator, Chicago Area Immunization Campaign

If you’re interested in yoga at your workplace, email me at susanvirginiayoga@gmail.com.

To get involved with IMCHC’s work, sign up for their email list here. If you live in Chicago you can also attend their upcoming fundraiser, “Bags for Babies” to help raise money to send high school students to Springfield to advocate for School-Based Health Centers.

About susan virginia yoga

Grassroots Organizing Director for UltraViolet (www.weareultraviolet.org) by day, yoga guide, dance partier, and red lentil soup connoisseur by night. Well. Evening. By night, I'm usually asleep.
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