Chaturanga launches charitable program

By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Assistant to the Editor

Hyde Park Yoga studio Chaturanga Holistic Fitness, 1525 E. 55th St., will be holding three free six-week classes in the Washington Park neighborhood this summer and is seeking donations online through the end of June from anyone interested in helping to cover their cost.

The classes, part of a community outreach program dubbed Chaturanga Seeds, will include yoga instruction at Coppin African Methodist Episcopal Church, 5627 S. Michigan Ave., and the UChicago Arts Incubator, 301 E. Garfield Blvd. One pilates class will also take place at Coppin House Apartments, 333 E. 53rd Pl.

The Coppin church program will take place every Monday, from 7-8 p.m., from June 24-July 29; the UChicago incubator classes will take place every Tuesday, from 10 to 11 a.m., from July 2 to August 6; and the Coppin apartments classes will take place every Wednesday, from June 26 to July 31. All programs will be taught by Chaturanga instructors.

Chaturanga owner Marylee Bussard says she wanted to start such a program since she opened her studio in 2010 and earlier this year she began formally working with Carol Horton, a once-a-week instructor there and scholar of contemporary yoga, to organize Chaturanga Seeds.

According to Horton and Bussard, the program, created with the help of the Washington Park Consortium and its program manager, Amanda Deisch, aims to make yoga instruction more accessible and ultimately lead to the offering of scholarships.

Horton said that “ideally over time we will for these outreach classes connect with students who are motivated enough and like yoga enough that they would want to become certified teachers themselves.”

“Carol and I were inspired to think more broadly about the role that a yoga studio could play in the world,” Bussard said, adding that “just knowing that so many of our neighbors are suffering every day from violence and economic hardship, it was a natural extension for us to do something that would bring the programs that we offer to so many of our clients beyond our walls.”

According to Horton, the classes will be offered for a small donation from participants in the fall, although no one will be denied because they cannot pay.
Horton highlighted the benefits of yoga in dealing with trauma, also citing the violence that Chicago has undergone.

“What a lot of people don’t understand about yoga is that it’s really not only about stretching and fitness,” Horton said, adding that it’s highly “effective in terms of managing your moods, stress levels, basically emotional self-regulation.”

For more information, or to donate toward the classes, visit chaturangafitness.com/seeds.