By Creating Peace in Your Own Heart You are Creating Peace on the Planet
Please join us for one of two October 25th yoga classes: 9:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. All of the money donated from attendance will go to the Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition and is a tax deductible donation. Of course, you don’t have to attend a class to donate. But you don’t want to miss the Native American ceremony of smudging the space with cedar and the music provided by local guitarist, John Worsharm. If your are drawn to yoga…but a little skeert to try it…this is the day to do it. Do something good for yourself that will be good for others, as well. By creating peace in your own heart you are creating peace on the planet.
Kelly: Ruth Bailey grew up with trauma, abuse; now, with yoga studio, she’s helping the ‘underserved’ heal
SARAH HOFFMAN/THE WORLD-HERALD
After discovering yoga at age 50, Ruth Bailey opened her own studio at age 63. The second-floor suite at 3909 Cuming St. is filled with greenery and natural light for relaxation.
SARAH HOFFMAN/THE WORLD-HERALD
By Michael Kelly / World-Herald columnist
For people in treatment for addictions, these twice-a-week yoga classes are a treat.
Ten folks lie on their backs, eyes closed, as music softly plays and instructor Ruth Bailey speaks in soothing tones.
“Feel the arms of Mother Earth,” she says. “Relax your feet, soften your ankles and calves, relax your entire torso. Let go of your aggravations and frustrations.”
From her personal and professional life, Ruth knows all about aggravations and frustrations.
She comes from “a family of criminals,” she says, and was given up by her mother when she was 4. As a ward of the state in Wyoming, she went from foster home to foster home and suffered trauma and emotional abuse.
But she came to Nebraska at age 12 and learned discipline at Epworth Village children’s home in the town of York, where she graduated from high school. She earned a degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and spent 18 years as a state and federal probation officer.
Ruth discovered yoga at 50, and at 63 for the first time has opened her own studio. She wants to serve the general public but also “the underserved.”
She has great sympathy and empathy for the troubled, but neither does she allow excuses.
“I understand when people complain about their bad childhoods,” she said. “But that was then, this is now.”
The class on this morning comes from the nonprofit Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition near downtown Omaha. The coalition provides drug and alcohol treatment, domestic violence intervention, transportation and a “Native elders program,” among other services.
Eagle Boy (his given name) is not an elder, but a 19-year-old from the Omaha reservation in Macy, about 80 miles north of the city of Omaha. He is in treatment for abusing drugs and alcohol.
“I grew up around them my whole life, so they were easy to get,” he says. “Treatment is going good. It’s a struggle, but a good struggle because it makes me stronger.”
He had trouble with the law — minor in possession and burglaries, he says — and is overcoming anger issues. Yoga classes are part of the treatment.
“Yoga helps me,” he says, “because you come in here and you relax. The way Ruth teaches yoga, she is very calm about it.”
Ruth says her “trauma-sensitive” Anahata Yoga indeed is calm and quiet.
Anahata is less physically taxing than other forms of yoga and encourages full breathing and calmness. Ruth’s classes are sensitive to those who have suffered trauma by being “more invitational than directive,” with choices of posture and with the teacher making gentle adjustments to students’ poses only by permission.
She has taught for years in city recreation centers, but the studio she opened this year, in a second-floor suite with lots of mirrors and greenery at 3909 Cuming St., is designed for peacefulness.
The CEO of the Indian Health Coalition, Donna Polk-Primm, is an African-American with some Indian ancestors. Last month, Voices for Children presented her with a lifetime achievement award.
She has been working with American Indians since 1985 and laments that the urban community of about 4,500 often seems invisible in Omaha, a prosperous city named for an Indian tribe.
“You see nothing indicating that this is Indian country,” she said, “other than the logo on the Mutual of Omaha headquarters.”
The Indian Health Coalition hopes to raise $1 million to build a 2,300-square-foot structure on the northeast corner of 24th and Howard Streets.
The “healthy living center” would be a gathering space for the Indian community and provide an area for funerals or other cultural traditions. It might feature a small retail space to sell beading, shawls and other products.
For its regular work, the health coalition contracts with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging, the Omaha Tribe and other agencies. The coalition’s diabetes program for Indians has been recognized as one of the best in the United States.
Polk-Primm, the mother of Douglas County District Judge Marlon Polk, said she is pleased that clients are helped by Ruth Bailey’s classes.
“Yoga is used as part of a holistic approach to recovery from physical as well as emotional problems,” she said. “It helps people to center themselves and meditate. A lot of people are so stressed out, they have racing minds.”
Jeremiah, 32, in treatment for a meth addiction that started when he was 17, said the calmness of the yoga classes “is what I need.”
Cheryl, a 55-year-old grandmother, said her alcohol addiction started with a divorce at 40. Today she works as a nurse’s aide.
“Yoga has helped me with my concentration, my balance and my flexibility,” she said. “Ruth is awesome, a very inspirational woman. She’s had a real positive influence on my life.”
Ruth, who also teaches yoga at the NOVA treatment center, said many people mistakenly believe that yoga is a religion.
“It’s a discipline, a practice,” she said. “People of all faiths find that it helps bring them closer and more connected with whatever spiritual beliefs they hold.”
As a fundraiser, she is donating classes Oct. 25 for anyone who wants to attend, encouraging participants to donate directly to the Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition. For more information, go to www.mystudioanahatayoga.com or call 402-850-8378.
“Ruth cares about people and is always giving of herself,” Polk-Primm said. “The idea that she would extend herself to try to help Native people is incredible.”
She extends herself in the quiet of her studio, encouraging them to relax — and feel the arms of Mother Earth.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1132, firstname.lastname@example.org