Emily Peterson is back from a life changing trip to Kenya. Read on to learn about her experience, from Reiki and baby elephants to future plans.
Where were you and what were you doing there? I was in Naivasha, Kenya doing phase 1 of a TIMBo training. We were working with Widows of the Rona Foundation who will eventually learn how to be facilitators of this program and will run their own groups.
What was the greatest challenge teaching in Kenya vs. Boston? The greatest challenge was probably the language barrier. We needed to use translators so sometimes there was a delay in impact and understanding. That being said, in this program we teach and practice how to hold a compassionate space for each other in silence at times so words don’t always matter.
What was your favorite moment of this trip? Oh boy, I had so many favorite moments!!! One of them was the first morning of the training when we arrived at the YMCA where it was being held. I was pretty nervous, I think we all were, but the widows came out of the dining hall singing and smiling. They had such joy on their faces and they just surrounded and enveloped us – took our hands and we all started dancing. It was such an incredible welcome and cut through all the trepidation and worry. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. So much love.
Another favorite moment was when an orphaned baby elephant wrapped his trunk around my arm while I was giving him Reiki. As a lover of elephants, this was a defining moment in my life.
Is there a memory that you will treasure forever? We also went into Mathare, the slums as they are referred to in Kenya, where the first Kenyan TIMBo group ran last year. We met the women who participated in the program, shared tea and community. They took us to show us their community and houses and we did TIMBo yoga in the street with about 100 children. There was a lot of singing and dancing and again, so much joy. I love to dance, so to be able to dance and high five all these children was such an incredible gift. It was such a lesson for me about being in the present moment and getting away from my own stories and perceptions.
What impact do you hope the TIMBo program will have on the community you just visited? When women lose their husbands in Kenya they lose all of their rights and suffer all sorts of horrendous violations and traumas. First and foremost, I hope the widows with whom we worked will find some healing, which I think they did. Also they will recognize their incredible strength and resiliency as they practice these tools and access more self-compassion which will lead to personal impowerment and changes in their lives and the lives of their families and communities. When they finish the training and are able to run their own programs, they will have even more of an impact.
What impact did the community have on you? Wow, I mean I learned so much. A huge lesson for me in being present to what is in front of me and connecting in the moment and not being afraid to show up without letting my fears dictate how I interact with people. It was also a reminder of how nothing is just one thing…. That there can be trauma and grief and heartache, but also song and dancing and rejoicing. Not only that they can co-exist, but how crucial it is to continue to celebrate life even though we struggle and how that celebration can actually help us heal. They epitomize the verse in the Bible that says “there is a time for everything… a time to weep and a time to laugh… a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
Having been a TIMBo participant how has it positively affected your life? It has helped me so much with my sense of self worth. It has taught me how to use my traumas as my asset – everything I have gone through I can now use to support other people in their healing process. Before I just used to feel shame about all of it. It has helped me learn how to breathe through difficult moments and re-wire my nervous system so I have less PTSD, anxiety and depression. It has helped me in my relationships and in my work. I could go on. In short, I use the principles and tools all day every day and it has changed my life. I might even say it has given me back my life. I think I am now living the life I was meant to live. It is a gift and I am so grateful to be able to share it with others.
Where is the next place you hope to bring TIMBo? We will go back to Kenya which is exciting. We are talking about Cambodia and Nepal, as we’ve been contacted by a few organizations that would like us to come. I also very much hope it spreads in the United States and that we begin to run the program with men. We need it, everywhere.
What do you do when not the friendly face behind the desk?
I'm either sweating it out on the mat, galavanting around the city taking photos, or enjoying amazing food at a cool place with some awesome people.
Where are you from and what brought you to Boston?
I’m a California boy through and through. I came to the Boston for college in hopes that I would end up like one of those east coast boys you read about in classic novels.
Fun fact about you?
Potatoes are my weakness. So are puppies.
Latest Yoga breakthrough? Engaging the foot! I come from a dance background where the focus is foot agility, but being able to utilize the different parts of the foot while on the mat creates a greater connection for me from the bottom of my foot to the top of my head.
You can do anything for a few breaths.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being behind the desk?
It's a three-way tie between creating relationships with yogis in the community, taking class with truly inspirational instructors, and playing with Barbies.
Where are you from and how long have you been in Boston? I was born and raised in Carlsbad, CA, a small beachy town in San Diego. I switched coasts and moved to NYC in 2011 to attend grad school. After graduating, I moved to Boston in summer of 2013!
What was your first yoga class like? I was at home in San Diego when I decided to drag my brother to a yoga studio by the beach. I said to myself, "I'm an athlete, how hard can it be?" Well it was hard. I left thinking, "My uncoordinated younger brother is better at yoga than I am. This isn't for me." It took 3 1/2 years for me to get back on a mat. I took a class at CCY and discovered my yoga practice for the first time. The rest is history!
What’s your favorite pose to teach? I love arm balances and inversions, any pose where you have to trust yourself wholeheartedly. I teach my students that these shapes are not about the final pose. Rather, they are about how you breath, focus, and feel along the way. When we let go of expectations and embrace the feeling within a pose, we create a shape that feels good in our body. We give ourselves space to discover what a pose is supposed to feel like rather than what it is supposed to look like. Breathe first, feel the shape, the rest will follow.
As a practitioner, what pose makes you cringe? HA! Easy pick...Upavistha Konasana and Hanumanasana. When I was 5 years old, my ballet teacher propped me up against a wall and forced me into a side split. I still cry when i think about that split.
Where can we find you when you’re off your mat? Off the mat, I'm a Registered Dietitian and have my own nutrition practice, Backbeet Nutrition. I also teach indoor cycling classes at The Handle Bar. When I'm not talking nutrition or making people sweat, I'm usually eating, researching music, napping, drinking coffee, creating playlists, and catching up on episodes of The Bachelor......I know, I know.
What’s your favorite or the most random song on your class playlist right now? My favorite song right now on my yoga playlist is "Breathing Underwater" by Emeli Sande. FEELS.
While each morning that we wake can be an impetus for change and growth, there is something special about a whole new year. Let’s take this new day, month, and year by storm and truly commit to our beliefs. We choose the way we want to live. Here are some ideas about how to live in tune with our earth:
Shop Local! Here are some of our favorite locally grown, sustainably made, and ethically conscious businesses in our own community!
Brookline Grown A local food store located in the heart of Coolidge Corner, selling everything from Green Line Growers greens to Clear Flour bread and 4A Roasters coffee beans. Everything in the store is made in Massachusetts, and mostly within a 10-mile radius!
Brookline Winter Farmers’ Market Stay warm and enjoy the local wonders of the Brookline Farmers Market indoors! Check out the winter market at the Arcade Building in Coolidge Corner each Sunday 11A – 3PM Nov – April!
Leaf Boutique Providing the Brookline community with beautiful vintage jewelry and ethical clothing for over 20 years. This shop is filled with one-of-a-kind finds that will make your closet shine.
Wild Goose Chase This Brookline boutique has been introducing American-made, finely crafted items to the community since 1977.
Good news! No need to spend in order to make an impact-- here are some great ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle in your everyday life:
Do you have any pairs of socks that are out of commission due to a small hole or two? Rather than throwing them out and purchasing new pairs, consider mending a stitch or two in those socks and giving them new life. Five minutes of stitching time and your feet are back in business!
Coffee and tea lovers alike can make their morning cup sustainable with a reusable tumbler. The CCY management staff can’t get enough of our YETIs. These super durable and perfectly sized mugs have become our best commuting companions!
There are such easy ways to make an impact. Sometimes it is the culminations of our small actions which nourish the earth and inspire others to do the same. When you go shopping, bring a reusable bag. (It’s hard to remember and organize, but take a mindfulness moment to reflect on the trees that birthed our paper bags.)
Try two wheels instead of four. Not only do your lungs get some devotion and exercise, but you can arrive at your destination knowing you aided the planet in our collective journey to healing, growth, and forward momentum. Biking, rollerblading, or scootering (!) is an adventure in empowerment and fun. Go outside and embrace the wind on your cheeks. Feel the hug of the earth.
Occupation: Boston Police Operations support staff
Fun fact: My wife and I love animals and especially love learning and studying about Orcas, the most beautiful, intelligent, baddest, creatures on this Earth.
Favorite yoga pose: The chair; for some reason my eyes light up when the teacher says it, I'm like, 'YES, something I can do well!"
When not on the matt, where I can be found? I'm at a mosque in Roxbury a couple times a week praying and reading Quran. Otherwise, I love to cook, spend time with family, watching my beloved Boston Celtics, and just laughing.
How long have I practiced Yoga and my latest Yoga breakthrough? I joined CCY in early October as it was a birthday gift to myself, but I began practicing it in early September from one of my neighbors. My latest breakthrough is to soften the face and eyes, to breath, and to use the side of the matt with the picture otherwise I will slip.
How has yoga impacted my life? It's a big work in progress but I expect many, many positive impacts as I continue to practice. It's helped me strengthen my back as I've dealt with a disc issue in my back for over 20 years. It's helped fill a void in my life as I used to be an amateur boxer through USA boxing and New England Boxing and left that about 6 years ago and have missed being part of a team, of pushing myself in a sport, of trying to get that level of focus where no outside distractions can affect me. Everyday intentions before every class are the same: To absolutely work my hardest without any short cuts, to show great respect and appreciation to my teachers, to be a better person in life, and not let the stressful and negative people at work get the best of me. I expect yoga to keep impacting my life with these intentions forever, God willing. When I'm at CCY, the teachers and staff make me feel so welcome.
Where are you from and how long have you been in Boston? I grew up in Franconia, NH but split my time between the mountains and the ocean! I have been living in the Boston area for about 5 years now.
What was your first yoga class like? Amazing but frustrating! I believe it was a Vinyasa class and I felt challenged in a way that let me connect and tap into an introspective experience! Honestly I had similar feelings of the flow state I've experienced skiing deep snow or riding my bike through the woods. It was addicting!
What’s your favorite pose to teach? Humble Warrior! The pose is both active and passive. Asana teaches us about isolation through mindful movement. These poses can both be active and passive at the same time in different parts of the body.
As a practitioner, what pose makes you cringe? Wheel Pose! (Urdva Dhanurasana) Nah I am good!!!!!!!
Where can we find you when you’re off your mat? I love to get outside in the mountains or on the ocean! I spend much of my free time riding my mountain bike, climbing mountains to ski in the winter months, swimming, paddle boarding, surfing, and climbing up rocks! I love connecting to nature, experiencing everything it has to offer. That connection inspires and motivates me to be the best version of myself. I need it like I need Yoga and in many ways it is all part of my daily Yoga practice.
What’s your favorite or the most random song on your class playlist right now? Ahhhhhhhh! That is a hard question. Some artists I have been incorporating into classes are East Forest, Trevor Hall, Wildlight, M83. I listen to Alan Watts often and artists are integrating his talks with sound! I am all about the messages in the music so I try my best to invite the conscious music movement.
Occupation? CFO for Central Boston Elder Services which provides home care services for over 7,000 senior citizens in the center of the City.
Fun fact? Lastname comes from the JURA mountains in Poland
Favorite yoga pose? Warrior 2
When not on your matt, where can you be found? I can be found prayer-walking, visiting and shepherding people, especially family.
How long have you been practicing and what's your latest yoga breakthrough? I began yoga briefly for just a few months several years ago and had to stop due to an injury. Began again in May at CCY, about 4 1/2 months now. My latest breakthrough- staying focused on breathing through most of my yoga classes
How has yoga impacted my life? 1. Helped me become attentive to the voice of my body, bringing wholeness 2. Breathing has been a major factor in transforming my inner being and daily living by helping me learn to be present and creating space for Life to be infused with each breath 3. It opened the door to become part of the huggable CCY community
What do you do when you're not the friendly face behind the desk? When I'm not at Coolidge Corner Yoga's front desk, I work at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in their fundraising division. When I'm not there (or at the yoga studio) I'm usually reading, cooking, climbing, skiing, running, or volunteering with a couple of local organizations.
Where are you from and what brought you to Boston? I am originally from Washington State. I came to Boston for school and attended Emerson College.
Fun fact about you? I love to cook! It's meditative and nourishing to me, just like yoga.
Latest Yoga breakthrough? I won't say this was recent, it is something I've learned (and keep learning) as I practice, and that's to be okay with not being at the place I might want or expect to be at--mentally and physically. It's a challenge, but yoga continues to teach me how to let go and just be wherever I'm at without judgement. Oh, also, conquering my fear of inversions!
Insiders tip? Take a Forrest Yoga class!
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being behind the desk? The people and the community here at CCY is incredibly wonderful and I enjoy being a part of it so very much.
Where are you from and how long have you been in Boston? I was raised in Brookline from the time I was three until I went off to college in Upstate New York. I moved back to Boston just shy of a year ago! What was your first yoga class like? My first class was around age eight, when I accompanied my mother to her Dahn yoga class on Saturday morning. The room was filled with what appears in my memory as men and women in loose, white martial arts pants and long sleeved shirts. There was ample body shaking, tapping, stretching, and perhaps a sun salutation or two. I found it all highly silly, and ever so slightly embarrassing. What’s your favorite pose to teach? Favorite pose to teach is such a very difficult question....Extended side angle. As a practitioner, what pose makes you cringe? Chair pose.
Where can we find you when you’re off your mat? Hiking with my puppies, studying acupuncture at Tatte's, painting pots at the Clayroom.
What’s your favorite or the most random song on your class playlist right now? Both favorite and most random at the moment would be Mariama Kaba- Boubacar Traoré.
Occupation? I am a 6th Grader at the Upper Devotion School!
Fun fact? I learned how to surf two years ago at Cisco Beach and got up on my first try!
Favorite yoga pose? Eagle.
When not on your matt, where can you be found? I can be found either in school, on my bike, hanging with friends, reading, drawing or playing video games.
How long have you been practicing and what’s your latest yoga breakthrough? I have been practicing for 4 years and attending adult classes for the past 2 years. Last summer I had my latest breakthrough when I got into headstand against the wall.
How has yoga impacted my life? Yoga has impacted my life cause it makes me better than before I unrolled my mat.