Monday, March 07, 2011

Emily Goligoski, The SanFranista: How I Have Fun, Do Good

The fifth guest blogger in my Have Fun, Do Good series is Emily Goligoski. 

Emily is a
writer and digital strategist who blogs as TheSanFranista. She produces tech entrepreneurship content for the organization Women 2.0 and teaches yoga in San Francisco. You can follow her on Twitter at @emgollie.

When I moved to San Francisco five years ago, I couldn't have known how important yoga would become to me. I had gone to classes on and off before coming to California but regularly left before savasana, the rest period at the end of class where the mind is invited to be still. Waste of time, I would think to myself.

I found a studio with the right mix of music, intensity, and spirituality soon after moving to SF and quickly found myself hooked (though still rolling up my mat early). Soon after, I had the opportunity to write about a Bay Area non-profit, the Art of Yoga Project, that brings yoga, writing, and arts to girls in juvenile hall. While interviewing the organizers for a magazine, I heard how they worked with young women who had rarely or never felt good about their bodies and were in detention on charges related to prostitution and drug sales. They told me how they worked with area facilities to bring regular yoga practices and writing workshops to the 14 to 18-year-olds, and I saw the feedback that some of the girls had given about the massive difference the instruction had made for them.

By the time the story ran, I was so in awe of the Art of Yoga Project's work that I enrolled in a yoga teacher training. It took a year of philosophy and anatomy study (and, more than I expected, self study) to earn my certification, but I found that the teaching staff's patience and encouragment made me a better teacher too. I started listening more than I talked. I asked "how can I help?" more than "do I have to do that?" more than I ever had, and there was joy in it.

But it still didn't prepare me for the nerves I faced when teaching at juvenile hall for the first time. I felt thrown off by how much the girls talked during the class and tried to respond with humor, then seriousness, and finally, acceptance. It wasn't until we came to the end of the class, to savasana,that I saw them relax and really breathe for the first time all night. As we shared our thoughts at the end of the class, they smiled. I couldn't help but smile too.

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