First Annual "Mats on the Mound"
On Saturday, September 16th, I had the honor to lead a yoga session for a benefit wellness event at the new Jimmy John's minor league baseball field in Utica, MI. All proceeds of Mats on the Mound went to the Suite Dreams Project of Rochester, MI. This non-profit organization's mission is to create fantasy bedrooms for the brave children in our local communities who are facing serious medical conditions. After receiving care in the hospital, they returning home to the bedroom of their dreams, full of color, themes, and comfort. The Suite Dreams Project will remodel the bedroom in a way that conceals any medical equipment and creates a healing environment. It is also made sure that there is sufficient space for friends, family members, and care providers alike to visit comfortably with the child.
The women behind the Suite Dreams Project are long time clients of mine, for whom I can vouch and say that they truly are out there doing amazing work in our neighborhoods. Saturday's Mats on the Mound was inspired by the understanding that we need to know how and be able to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others. That's how myself and motivational speaker, Michelle Bommarito, were invited to lead those who gathered through a morning of positivity, wellness, and serenity.
On a blue sky Saturday morning, about 60 people came out in support of the cause. Attendees first met in the welcome area and VIP lounge of Jimmy John's Field. Eventually, the doors opened to the field where we were all able to meet and greet a bit as people rolled out there mats. The grass was still cool from the night before and the sun was rising over the eastern trees. There was calm and good vibes in the air.
One of the Suite Dreams' lead volunteers, Kim Adamski, first welcomed everyone and shared some background about the project; who they are, how they came to be, what they do, and the purpose of Mats on the Mound. Michelle then spoke about her personal journey of wellness, inspiring others to practice a lifestyle of balance and gratitude. I then took the mic (hooked up to the stadium speakers!), introduced myself and briefly discussed my perspective on yoga and self-care, before leading the group through an all-levels yoga practice.
Below I've included the gist of my little speech. I hope it inspires you to remember to take care of yourself on a daily basis. It took me a long time to learn the lesson of self-care. I would put others first to the point of neglecting my own wellbeing. Somehow helping others was a way to avoid doing my own inner work, which in turn led to many breakdowns and self abuse. By learning how to acknowledge my needs, value myself, and knowing what being well truly feels like, I now walk on this planet with ease. This ease grants me flexibility to be there for others with presence, clarity, and a much higher vibe! Here is what I had to share at Mats on the Mound...
"Welcome everyone! Special thanks to Kim Adamski, Kay Ponicall, and the Appplebees for inviting me out here today. My name is Stephanie Williams. Although yoga has taken me around the world, it hasn't taken me to a baseball field until today! :) My first yoga class was at the U of M CCRB well over a decade ago.
To anyone who is here giving yoga a try for the first time, or of the first times, I congratulate you! It is no easy feat! In our fast pace crazy world, it can be challenging or scary to hit the pause button and slow down for a little while. While there are many things I could say about yoga, I was thinking about this event today and the intention behind it. Suite Dreams Project recognizes that the ability to take care of others truly stems from ones own wellbeing. The practice of yoga offers a time of self-reflection, of self-care and restoration. A colleague of mine said the other day that self-care isn’t all about bubble baths and journaling. Rather self-care is doing what needs to be done so as to treat oneself and others with peace and compassion.
Yoga is also a valuable tool to use for stress and pain management. It’s like a body and mind reset. It helps us see when we're riding through the ups and downs of life, and speaking of balance, yoga can show us how to walk through life with more of an even stride, and gratitude for all that is.
This is your Saturday morning and your yoga practice. Please feel free to modify up or down as you see fit. You'll here me call options step by step, and your can stop at any of those steps along the way. Bottom line, stay tuned into how you're feeling and keep observing your breath. Let's go ahead and give that a try. Take a deep breath in... and a deep breath out...
The magical part about yoga is that it exists right here, right now in the present moment. It takes one conscious breath to practice yoga. Today, I invite you to explore your soft edge. Take the load off. Be mindful and observant of the simple details around you. We're not here to huff and puff and to strain through pose after pose, but rather to move and breathe in a way that we can practice peace and wellbeing...and then experience the ripple effect of of the peace we create as we walk off the mound today.
Now who's ready to join me?"
For more about the Suite Dreams Project or to make a contribution, please visit: