Going With the Flow

By Beacon Staff

In the practice of yoga, the downward facing dog is usually a pose of blissful balance. Yet for students attending one of the Community Yoga sunset classes, it might also cause some giggles as one’s sunglasses are prone to slip off during this section of the vinyasa.

Yet, sunglasses are a crucial tool during these classes, which meet every Wednesday at 8p.m. on the upstairs deck of the Boiler Room.

Sherry Taylor, center, reaches upward and stretches toward the sky while participating in an evening yoga class on the roof of The Boiler Room in Kalispell.

“It’s a time to wind down,” instructor Karina Ek said. “The sunsets here in the valley are so beautiful and there are some pretty amazing colors going on in the skies and it’s just great to feel that cool air after a long day and really stretch your body.”

Ek decided to host the classes as a way to give back to the Violence Free Crisis Line, an organization that offers support and counseling to victims of domestic and sexual violence in the Flathead Valley.

Ek said her intentions behind the classes were two-fold.

“I understand that they have lost a lot of income from the state, along with many other organizations,” she said about the crisis line. “There’s been a lot of cutback so I think financially it will help them.”

Ek also wanted to offer a healing practice to people who may have been affected with turmoil.

“I also met up with a lot of volunteers with the crisis line and encouraged them to bring people they are working with who are battling through something personal,” she said.

Both men and women are welcome to attend and Ek has several spare mats that practitioners can use.

Ek asks that those who attend bring a monetary donation for the program in exchange for the 45-minute classes. One-hundred percent of the donations will benefit the crisis line.

Instructor Karina Ek begins her yoga lesson with some stretches while seated on the roof of The Boiler Room in Kalispell.

“My suggestion was to donate five dollars but you may have a woman with a penny in her pocket and that’s fine for them to come,” she said. “I’ve also had some people who have been really generous who give more than what I suggest. It’s up to that person, how they feel and where they are in their life.”

Ek, a Kalispell native, trained at the OM Yoga Center in New York City and has been teaching in the valley since January. Her classes focus on correct alignment, breath awareness and meditation.

“I’ve found through yoga practice that you can really dig a little bit deeper into your soul and with meditation and breath, it’s really powerful,” she said.

The Violence Free Crisis Line was established in 1976 and provides the county with a 24-hour crisis line, an emergency shelter and prevention education.

According to Janet Cahill, the organization’s director for 23 years, the recession has indeed cut back on the donations and grants that keep the non-profit operating,

“Starting two years ago, our grants began to dip off and with the recession, contributions have been cut in half,” Cahill said. “Last year we had to cut our staff in half.”

Cahill hasn’t partaken in any of the classes as she tends to wind down at home in the evening, but she has spoken with several board members who have attended.

“The people I’ve talked to who have gone say it’s wonderful,” she said. “Karina is very nice for doing this for us.”

Karina Ek and participants of her yoga class end the evening’s instruction on the roof of The Boiler Room. All of the donations from the class go toward supporting the Violence Free Crisis Line.

The classes started July 7 and are expected to run through Aug. 25, although Ek says the end date is open-ended depending on student interest.

“It’s been wonderful to bring a little bit more empowerment and peace to these people and allow them to come into the moment,” she said. “It’s their moment to take care of themselves.”

For more information on the Sunset Community Yoga Class contact Ek at [email protected] or online at www.flourish-yoga.com. For more information about the Violence Free Crisis Line, contact Cahill at (406) 261-9082

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