By Foster Barnes
THURSDAY, 10/07/2014. Andiappan Yoga Community (AYC) partners with Hong Kong’s Youth Outreach School of Hip Hop to share yoga with at-risk youth. Many inner-city youth lack the resources to deal with life’s obstacles. Youth Outreach School of Hip Hop was established to help shape the personality of young people and boost their self-confidence by “integrating the Hip Hop culture into the adolescence development.”
Since it’s inception in 2004, the Youth Outreach School of Hip Hop has become known as a well-respected, professional break-dance school. Their instructors are highly experienced and have received awards in various internationally-recognized street dance competitions. And the school provides a platform and opportunities for their students to showcase their talent.
The motto for the school, “Dancing to healthy life,” is not so different from some mantras of yoga practice. In fact, dancing and yoga have much in common. Balance, flexibility, strength, grace and coordination are the obvious shared benefits.
However, dance and yoga also increase self-confidence. Yoga, however, has the added benefits of reducing stress, calming anxiety, focusing the mind, and leading the practitioner on an inward journey of self discovery — useful, even necessary for young, developing minds.
Mabel Mak, a yogini and founding member of Anahata Yoga, understands the benefits of yoga. She and her husband are involved in various community projects throughout Hong Kong and China, such as building schools and helping underprivileged children. And it was Mabel who suggested Youth Outreach contact AYC about yoga classes.
The program launched on Wednesday, 11/06, and ran from 8 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays. Since then, the class has changed to Thursday nights at the same time. The introductory class was introduced by Master Vijay and AYC Volunteer Teachers Ivan Li and Hiu Ming. Ivan has trick dance experience while Ming teaches break-dancing. April Lee and Master Felix have also joined the team of volunteer teachers. April has a background in ballet.
Initially, the class started with about eight to ten teenage boys. Since it’s inception attend has nearly doubled. Master Yogananth has agreed to issue signed Certificates of Participation to students who complete 30 classes in the program.
“The few times I visited the class, you can see that the students are engaged. They pay close attention to the instructor and are eager to do the poses. As in every class, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. But it’s exciting and heartening to see these young men take yoga seriously and give it their best.” — Andiappan Yoga Community Volunteer Coordinator Foster Barnes
Youth Outreach also conducts twice-weekly street outreach programs. Every Tuesday and Saturday night Youth Outreach members go into the community and reach out to “young night drifters who are at-risk,” and introduce them to various Youth Outreach programs, including yoga.
We are always looking for volunteer yoga teachers for these programs:
• Tuesdays in Tin Shui Wai, open — anytime between 7:30 – 11:30 p.m.
• Saturdays in Tuen Mun, from 8:30– 9:30 p.m.
For more information about Youth Outreach, please visit: https://www.youthoutreach.org.hk/