By Michelle Singh
I first met Keshet in November 2018. Prior to this meeting, I had spoken to her mom, Dorit, on the phone many times over the years regarding required FE&T trainings and optional workshops offered by Wildwood. When I met Keshet and her mom at Wildwood in Latham to complete the intake for the new Yoga for Anxiety 10-week session I was offering, I could sense Dorit’s apprehension about the program. She had concerns about the composition of the group and was apprehensive that there might be too many people.
Nevertheless, Keshet attended the first 10-week session of Yoga for Anxiety, offered at the Rudy A. Ciccotti Center. In the beginning, her mom was worried that she would not be able to attend the class for a full hour and may be disruptive.
Dorit sat very close to the door in case I needed her. Over time, Dorit moved into the general lounge and seemed more comfortable that Keshet would be fine. At the end of one class, each of the four participants gave one word to describe the present moment.
Keshet said, “Sad.”
When I asked her why she was sad she said, “Because I’m going away and I won’t see you for 2 weeks.”
My uncertainly about whether she was enjoying the classes had dissipated. In fact, it was a joyful moment as I knew she was experiencing positive benefits from yoga.
Following the first 10-week session, I thought that it might be beneficial to repeat the same session, but this time with just women. Dorit was excited and told me how Keshet waits by the door on Wednesdays, eager to leave for class. Keshet seemed to greatly enjoy the routine and the structure of the classes. As she became aware of the pattern within the classes, she would enjoy leading us through various meditations. One of my favorite moments with Keshet was after a class when we shared “Namaste.”
“It means, the light in me honors the lights in you,” she said and smiled.
In February 2019, I attended a 3-day program entitled, “Yoga for Anxiety, Autism and those Who Are Differently Abled,” at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. While there, we practiced and learned the benefits of “Brain Gym,” a program Dorit had asked me about for Keshet.
I couldn’t believe how refreshed, focused and content I felt after only 20 -30 minutes of Brain Gym activities. When I returned from Kripalu, I called Dorit and told her about the program and that I would love to practice it with Keshet in their home. Dorit was surprised but thrilled that I could come to their home for the service.
Whenever I come to their home, I ring the doorbell and from inside the house I hear Dorit say, “Keshet, Michelle is here!” and Keshet unlocks the door for me. I’ve always been able to determine Keshet’s mood by her initial affect, but what I can’t always determine is how deeply our practice together will affect her after an hour. Following our sessions, Keshet always seems quiet, more relaxed, calm and at ease. It is not me. It is our practice. It is our time together. It is giving her the space to determine how she would like to spend the hour by choosing Brain Gym or yoga.
Dorit feels there is a bond between us that she doesn’t develop with everyone.
“She knows you enjoy spending time with her. She knows you care,” she said. “This worked because you treated her like an adult, not like a child.” Dorit has also told me that not many people are willing to come to a home to provide a service. This has made their lives easier and less complicated.
I have often told Dorit that one of my favorite parts of my week is when I step into their home and leave my day at the door. I greatly enjoy chatting with Dorit after the sessions and feel so welcomed by the homemade, wholesome food she always sends home with me. I love to see Keshet at the beginning, middle and end of our afternoons. I love to see the transformation of her mood. As my favorite yoga teacher used to tell me when I told her how I felt after one of her classes, “It’s not me. It’s the yoga.”
For more information about Family Support Services and therapeutic yoga, please contact Michelle Singh at 518.640.3350 or firstname.lastname@example.org.