CasaRubyCarlie is offering a workshop to support Casa Ruby and kindly shared some of her experiences to inspire our community to join her for an All Levels Flow to benefit Casa Ruby on August 22 from 4:30-6pm.

I have lived in the DC area for three and half years and have found a home in the DC queer community. I personally experienced the tight-knit support system that can be found within it and would love to contribute my own form of support through yoga. I got my teaching certification through Yoga District’s 200-hour training in winter 2015 and have been teaching here since. Other than teaching yoga, I am also an artist and dancer. I am teaching a workshop to benefit Casa Ruby, DC’s only bilingual multicultural LGBT organization which provides valuable services such as hot meals, clothing exchange, support groups, case management, emergency housing referrals, and legal services counseling for the most vulnerable members of the LGBT community.

The biggest challenge I found when beginning my journey in the world of yoga is that unfortunately Western capitalism has created much of the yoga world (in the US at least) into a money-making industry that primarily caters to upper and middle class white women, making it largely inaccessible for many people because of financial circumstances or safety issues regarding race, identity, and orientation. I am extremely thankful for studios like Yoga District and their partner organization, Yoga Activist, that truly live the principles of non-violence and unconditional love for their students as well as a clear intention of creating accessible yoga for all people. I would advise the yoga community to Volunteer! Volunteer as much as you can. If you don’t have time or means to volunteer, then donate. Organizations like Casa Ruby are only able to provide their services through the generosity of labor and resources from the community.

I’m a working class queer woman of color and I feel that my calling as a yoga instructor is to provide the practice/lifestyle/philosophy of yoga to folks who either can’t afford, or don’t feel safe in traditional public yoga studios; my community classes provide an accepting atmosphere for those in that category, primarily people of color, single parents and their kids, and LGBTQ folks. Although I have not yet had the opportunity to teach at Casa Ruby, I would love to teach there so that the most vulnerable of our community can have a space to explore a practice of mindfulness, non-violence, self love, and self care.

One crucial aspect of Casa Ruby is that it is fully bilingual in all its practices, making it fully accessible for people who have the least opportunity because of language barriers, primarily undocumented folks who already have few rights in the US. In addition to that Casa Ruby also provides job opportunities for folks that have the most difficulty attaining safe and secure means of work, particularly transgender and gender non-conforming people of color.

Casa Ruby provides a variety of life-saving services such as housing, clothing, medical care, legal resources, and job opportunities; but I think the most positive resource that Casa Ruby provides is empowerment and validation of those it serves, I believe their mission statement says it best: “Our vision is to create a world where Transgender, Gender Queer, and Gender Non-conforming people pursue their dreams and achieve success in their lives without fear of discrimination, harassment, or violence due to their sexual orientation and or Gender Identity/Gender Expression.” As a queer woman of color, I feel it is my responsibility as a member of the community to provide what services I can to benefit the most vulnerable of the community.

My favorite pose is Trikonasana, or triangle pose. I love it so much that I have many asana practices sequenced around it! I love trikonasana so much because triangles are the strongest architectural shape, and when I practice it, I feel a physical/visceral connection to the power and strength (emotionally, spiritually, and mentally) within me and within others. Another reason this is my favorite pose is because triangles represent safe space (from violence, unacceptance, and discrimination); despite all of the hate that sometimes seems to fill the world, one can always find a safe space within their personal practice and through sharing that practice with others.

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