Yoga may not be the first kind of services that come to mind for women experiencing homelessness, or living in transitional housing, but Carmen, a CCS/CHS Coming Home Case Manager, likes to think outside the box!
Carmen recently reached out to a local Seattle yoga studio to recruit a volunteer yoga instructor and found Nancy Burtenshaw. “I jumped at the chance to give back,” Nancy recalls. Nancy is not only a certified yoga instructor, but also earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Seattle University. It was the time she spent studying at SU that instilled in her a commitment to serving her community.
Nancy currently leads chair and standing yoga sessions with residents at Dorothy Day House, Noel House, and Rose of Lima House. Chair yoga is easily accessible to all ages and abilities and helps with balance. Focusing on breathing can also help people with anxiety or stress from experiencing homelessness, as well as those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Nancy often utilizes a meditation technique that was originally developed to help veterans suffering from PTSD but has since been extended into hospital and school settings.
Nancy sees yoga as a way to address wellness and recovery while honoring all beliefs and religions. She says the yoga session have “brought a lot of peace and ease” to the women at Dorothy Day House, Noel House and Rose of Lima. She recounted that one particular resident was apprehensive at the start and even left the first session, but now that resident is a regular attendee. “I could see the sparkle in her eyes come back,” Nancy told us. Making a difference in people’s lives is the reason she became a teacher in the first place.
Although a busy summer schedule has put her weekly schedule on hiatus, Nancy still plans to teach at least two classes through the month of August for women interested in participating. She has also graciously shared some videos with CCS/CHS staff, so women can continue their weekly practice.
Nancy is also actively searching for a small grant to further fund continued classes.
Find a CCS volunteer opportunity in your area at ccsww.org/volunteer/