Create a Loving Society One Person at a Time

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Volunteers Stage Free Yoga and Meditation Classes to Foster Harmony on the Earth

There is a volunteer movement underway to heal society one person at a time through the practices of an ancient Korean program called Dahn Yoga. The trained volunteers conduct outreach programs through the Healing Society in Action, offering free community yoga and meditation classes, often in parks or community facilities, to teach people to love their bodies, improve their physical health, identify what they call their “true self” and spread the love to their family, neighborhoods and eventually the whole society.

One such volunteer is motivated by improving life for seniors. Even though the phone connection to Hawaii crackled with interference, and the conversation was somewhat stilted due to language barriers, Sue Yashima’s sincerity shone through. “I hope my story will help,” said Yashima, who spoke slowly and patiently. Her desire to help others—especially the elderly—stay healthy is the impetus behind the free Dahn Yoga lessons she and her husband Wally (who is Hawaiian and second generation Japanese) have taught for more than two years.

The husband and wife team teach at five different locations throughout the week: Puunui Community Park, Salt Lake District Park, Kaneohe Community Senior Center, Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii and Manoa Valley District Park.

In September she started the class at Buddhist temple Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii, which routinely draws 30—a mix of women, couples and families. Wally is a member of the temple. “It’s not a question of believing in something; mainly I focus on managing health, and members come to do that,” said Yashima when asked whether Buddhism and Dahn are complementary spiritual traditions. A typical class lasts one hour and focuses on breathing to “make it easy for the elderly.”

Hawaii is exactly as you may picture it. It is always warm, winter is nonexistent, there are palm trees everywhere and the air is clean, reported Yashima. “In Hawaii the people have really open hearts.” She reasoned that her classes are large and frequented by families because news spreads by word of mouth in the Hawaiian culture.

Yashima and her husband discovered Dahn after Wally retired from his federal civil service job in 2000. When Yashima noticed that Wally was getting ill from being idle and staying at home, she quit her job at the Hawaiian Regent Hotel, and signed them up for classes at the Honolulu Dahn Yoga Center.

Yashima, who is Korean, was drawn to Dahn because it is originally from Korea and centers on healing. Yashima said she sees Dahn as a way to help people in a way she could not help her parents, who moved to Hawaii with her when she was 25, according to a July 8, 2005 story in the Hawai’i Herald. “My parents, before they passed away, they had a miserable sickness,” said Yashima, whose mother never recovered from a stroke and spent her last years in a convalescent home. After her mother’s death, her father fell into depression. “I wanted to help them, but I couldn’t.” Yashima, who is 57, did not want to die like that. She started practicing Dahn in January 2001. When she started teaching, she began at the beach with only two pupils: her husband and one other student. Then she moved to the park and attendance increased exponentially. Yashima teaches class in English. Her students are mostly elderly, and range in age from 60 to 85.

Her day begins at 3 a.m. “Because I have to teach so much, I have to take care of my own body and keep practicing to figure out how to best teach others,” said Yashima. At 3 a.m. she does meditation and breathing postures to “make my mind clean, so I can have a true mind when I help other people.”

After people read this story, Yashima wants more people to join her classes, so they can learn how to manage their health. “Not just their physical health but find spiritual peace too,” said Yashima.

For information on free community programs call toll free 1-877-hsp-yoga.


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