Our volunteer of the month for January is Laura Eisdorfer!
Laura began volunteering for Kula in 2015. Having just finished her 200-Hour teacher training, Laura was delighted when presented the opportunity to teach on the inpatient psychiatric unit at HUMC (6 St John). A clinical psychologist for 30 years (and still going), this was a perfect way for Laura to meld her experience and passion for helping people with mental illness with her belief in yoga's ability to heal people emotionally, spiritually and mentally. In addition, the deal was sweetened by the opportunity to work side by side with Susan Simring, DSW and a longtime Kula volunteer.
Together, Laura and Susan developed the program on the unit. Initially they facilitated mat classes but it soon became clear that chair yoga was more appropriate for this population. The patients on this unit often suffer significant physical limitations due to their active psychiatric illnesses, concomitant medical problems, and medication side effects. A few patients come to class in wheel chairs each month. Because most patients only stay on the unit for 1 week, each class is taught as a first class. Laura and Susan give a brief description about mindfulness and yoga, provide a short dharma and then facilitate a very gentle class. Week after week, the patients express gratitude for this class. Many describe feeling in touch with their bodies or feeling relaxed for the first time in many years.
Acutely aware of how despondent and hopeless these patients often feel, Laura and Susan try their best to help them "create space" so they can open to possibilities and experience hope. Laura describes her class on 6 St John as a "highlight" of her week and adds, "It is an incredibly rewarding experience to be with these patients in their moment of vulnerability and to offer them the opportunity to experience and see themselves differently. Our class helps them get in touch with their inner resources and resiliency on a whole new level. Sharing this class with Susan further enriches my experience. We have a lot of fun together."
In 2016, Laura completed her 300-Hour teacher training and participated in 2 additional Kula trainings. Laura is currently focusing on honing mindfulness practices to incorporate into her professional practice and yoga classes. She looks forward to many more years of dedicated service to Kula for Karma!
Thank you for your commitment to seva, Laura! We're so grateful for you.
To learn more about volunteering with Kula for Karma, learn more and get in touch with us here.