This summer patrons of Morningside Park have had the benefit of free yoga classes every Wednesday provided by the Harlem Wellness Center.
The center offers a variety of hybrid classes for all ages and levels focusing on strengthening community through health justice and racial healing. HWC is creating a community for wellbeing that is bravely and gently contributing to the creation of the just world we want to see.
That world is best defined in their mission statement:
We are working to close the racial health gap by providing access to innovative and holistic wellness programs that empower individuals, strengthen communities, and create spaces where all can connect, heal, and thrive.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with HWC Founder and Executive Director, Vivian Kurutz. This is what she had to say about offering the free sessions for our community in Morningside Park:
Q: Why is offering free yoga to the community important to you?
A: I’ve personally experienced the many benefits of yoga...grounding, joy of movement, strength, flexibility, agility, improved functional living, inner calm. When something is good I love to share it. Offering yoga in one's own backyard (literally) with as few barriers as possible creates access to this wonderful resource for health and wellbeing.
Q: What would you say to someone who doesn't believe in yoga or thinks it's just another fitness cult?
A: Try different classes. It's not a one size fits all practice. Every teacher is different and every class is different. Yoga is still being practiced thousands of years later because there's something special and powerful about the system that works to balance body, mind and spirit no matter what your beliefs are. Try it and let your body be the judge.
Q: Why outside and not in the studio?
A: Nature is beautiful and powerful. It connects us to that which is larger than ourselves. Lifting your arms and heart up and seeing the sky, breathing in the oxygen of the trees and feeling the sun or breeze on the skin enhances the experience. Also, post/present covid, some people still prefer an open air class.
Q: What is the most memorable comment from a student after a class?
A: Omgosh I can't believe I did that!
Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
A: HWC is a warm, welcoming, community. We offer a great entry point to yoga for new and experienced students.
There’s still a chance to come out and join the community that we are all building together on Wednesdays at 6:30pm on the lawn across from the duck pond. All ages and skill levels are welcome. SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!