In her nine years of teaching the art of yoga, Nancy Hamory has heard plenty of positive affirmations from students who tell her they are now breathing, walking and living better.
Some of her highest praise, however, comes from the survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
"Some of them tell me that they haven't left the house in five or more years," said Hamory, 50, owner of Sun & Moon Yoga. "They haven't always felt safe at home. They feel safe here."
Through a special partnership with Sunrise of Pasco domestic and sexual violence center, Hamory has been offering free yoga classes to the agency's clients and staff members for the past few years. She'll be among the nine honorees recognized at a luncheon today for their efforts to help the victims of domestic violence.
"Our slogan is Know Your Peace," said Terri O'Brien, director of community education and Delta project coordinator at Sunrise. "We are honoring people who do their part to bring peace to the community."
Those free yoga classes help the victims through the healing process, said O'Brien.
"Sometimes, the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault feel like they're going crazy," said O'Brien. "We assure them that their mind is like a filing cabinet that has been turned over — the information is still there, it just needs to be organized. Yoga helps them organize by enabling them to breathe and think more clearly, to release their stress. Yoga can help to pull them back together."
She said some clients even said the yoga reduced their need for pain medications and therapies. O'Brien has experienced those benefits first-hand.
"I've had back problems all my life and many surgeries," O'Brien said. "A chiropractor once told me I could be in a wheelchair by the time I was 50."
Since she started taking yoga classes about five years ago, she has noticed her back pain decreased, as did her stress levels, and she saw a healthy weight loss.
About three years ago, O'Brien approached Hamory with the idea of offering yoga classes to the staff and clients of Sunrise.
"At least six or seven of our staff members attend regularly," she said. "Sometimes one of the ladies will stand up and say, 'I gotta go to yoga!' "
And they, along with their clients, are always welcome at Sun & Moon.
"To me, service to the community has always been an important aspect of yoga," said Hamory.
"The thanks that I get, the award I'm winning, is not about me — I accept it on behalf of the yoga community. I use yoga to alleviate suffering."