For three yoga instructors, random acts of kindness happen year-round.
In January 2014, Livi De Rooy, Christina Brack and Alysia Miller launched the Be CommUNITY Workshops in order to raise funds and donations of food and clothing for several local non-profit organizations and charities. It is also a way of getting people actively involved in community-minded projects, Livi said.
On Fridays, yoga and meditation workshops are held by donation at Twisted Willow Studio. Tonight’s is all about back bends and starts at 6 p.m.
In the past three years, donations have been made to the Port Alberni Shelter, Alberni Community and Women’s Services (ACAWS), the SPCA, Bread of Life, Kuu-Us Crisis Line, Raise-A-Reader, and the North Island Wild Life Recovery Centre.
"ACAWS also helps other outreach programs so here they can disperse the donations to other people," De Rooy said. "We know there are so many places doing good work (in Port Alberni)."
For Christina, supporting ACAWS has personal meaning. She said she could have used a similar place in her late teens when she went from one bad relationship to another.
"So many women either don't know where to go to for help or are too afraid or ashamed," she said.
Christina's first experience was when she was involved in a verbal and emotionally abusive relationship. She stayed in it on and off for a year and half, thinking it would improve.
"I thought I put myself in the situation and that it was my fault," Christina said. "I went straight to another relationship that felt safe, but we had an ugly breakup that left me shattered for a long time."
After that, Christina said she had more confidence to recognize situations in which she was being put down or being used as an emotional punching bag.
"It took me into my 20's to embrace that," she said. "There is still a stigma that if a woman stands up for herself she is seen as pushy or bitchy. Until one person stands up and says something or intervenes than there can be real change. It was just a really toxic place for me to be."
"The concept of yoga includes a philosophy of service to each other and to our community," she said. "We take the time out of our own week to use the skills and experience we have to share our practice and recognize that our own community has needs as well."
It is not all about yoga, though. The trio’s most recent initiative involves helping women in need with the help of volunteers. They also hope to recruit high school students requiring volunteer hours to sew “Compassion Bags” out of reclaimed and recycled material, which will be filled with hygiene items and handed out where needed.
“The idea is that if a woman is in a situation that she needs to leave in a hurry, she will have everything she needs in the compassion bag,” Livi said. “We also want to make them out of material that we can keep out of the dump because we know that the textile industry is the second leading cause of waste production. I love how the students can use volunteer hours to support causes they should know about, especially ones that are right here in our community.”
Other upcoming classes include a free meditation on Friday, April 7 at 6 pm and an Open Practice on Friday, April 14 at 6 pm.
Updates and information on upcoming workshops can be found on the Twisted Willow Studio Facebook page. It is located at 3911 Glenside Road.