A LOCAL YOGA instructor is one of 30 nationwide chosen to lead free yoga sessions to help the women and girls of New Orleans recover from Katrina.
The all-day yoga sessions April 11-12 are part of “V-Day,” an international event founded by Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues. The point of this year’s celebration — dubbed “Superlove” because all events will be in the New Orleans Superdome — is to help stop violence against females.
“The ten-year anniversary is being held in New Orleans to bring more awareness to women and girls during and after Katrina, says Kelley Boyd, who who runs the Savannah Yoga Center at Anderson and Bull streets downtown.
“It’s about bringing together community and bringing light to subjects that have been forgotten about,” she says. “It’s being held in the Superdome partially because of the horrendous things that happened there to women and girls when they had nowhere else to go.”
Boyd thinks her background in therapy is why her application was one of just 30 to be approved to lead the yoga sessions in the Superdome, which are all free on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“I have a lot of one-on-one clients who are dealing with previous injury or trauma, like post-surgery trauma. I also work a lot with people who are dealing with divorce or other kinds of stresses, like job loss or job change,” says Boyd, who has also developed yoga workshops for people suffering from muscular sclerosis.
“Sometimes when you’re doing yoga you bring out a lot of emotions that you’re not aware are in there,” she says. “People come to me to feel safer.”
While being chosen is quite an honor, it’s also an act of charity — all expenses are coming out of Boyd’s own pocket.
“I don’t care about that,” she says. “So many people need this.”
Savannah’s vulnerability to hurricanes is also a big motivator for Boyd.
“Hey, we’re in a coastal community too. There’s no reason that something that devastating couldn’t happen to us,” she says. “We don’t have levees, but we could be right there with them.”
One of the challenges involved in spreading the word about “Superlove” is the same challenge the world saw during Katrina itself: How to communicate with a group of people who have been under the radar for so long.
“My understanding is they are going around to various yoga centers and to shelters, putting up flyers and going to neighborhoods where people are still left,” Boyd says. “The community there is really working to get this information to the right people.”
Boyd says one of her responsibilities as a yoga teacher is to bring some continuity to the practice of the ancient art.
“A lot of people have had concerns about turning people in New Orleans on to the wonders of yoga. What do they do when we leave?”
Boyd says to allay this concern, instructors in New Orleans are organizing new yoga centers and trying to bring classes into existing community centers at free or reduced rates.
Boyd, whose first local studio was off Drayton Street, says that while it’s been a slow process, yoga is becoming more mainstream, even in traditionally conservative Savannah.
“When we first started out, I remember many a day when I was in there by myself. It took every bit of three years for this to catch on. Coming over to the new location has been great, because we get a lot more pedestrian traffic here,” she says.
“I think Savannah is finally opening up. People really want this and they really need it.”
Savannah Yoga CenterWhere: 1321 Bull StCall: 232-2994Info: www.savannahyoga.com, www.vday.org