Special Guest Feature by Lindsey Platt
Lindsey Platt embodies the Alchemy of Yoga mission to #TeachPeace. Read her story below!
Seven years ago, I stepped onto my first yoga mat. I sat with my head held high, assured that my previous dance experience would propel me to the top of the class. As the class began and I awkwardly snorted in an attempt to do the “fire breathing” I had learned of just seconds earlier, I suddenly realized that yoga was not what I thought it was. In the past seven years, I have time and time again been humbled, broken, and restored by my yoga practice.
My name is Lindsey Platt, a dreamer, enthusiast, connector, wanna-be-writer, and idealist. I have a ravenous hunger for anything adventurous and am fueled by my desire to learn how to be a more patient, more kind human. My unyielding desire for adventure has most recently landed me in Uganda, East Africa where I volunteer full time for an organization called HALO. I work with girls and boys who have lived most of their lives on the streets, in forced prostitution, or abandonment. During the past two years of living in Uganda, yoga has become a central form of healing, not only for the youth, but for myself as well.
During my years in university, yoga began to teach me of empowerment, love, inner peace, and connection to the Earth and its inhabitants. Yoga taught me to listen to myself, my body, my intuition. Yoga taught me that in stillness there is great freedom. Yoga taught me that to reach the peace you must face the suffering with strength and spirit.
Two years ago, I stepped on a plane, scared and unsure of what lay ahead. Twenty-some-hours later I landed in Uganda. As I approached signs that read “Welcome Home Lindsey,” I knew that the thousands of miles that had existed between my new friends and I had never threatened to sever our common humanity. Since that day, not only have my friendships with this far away family grown immensely, but my appreciation for yoga has grown in the same way too. Daily, as I speed through the dizzying and dusty streets of this spectacular country on the back of a motorcycle taxi, I can’t help but to reflect on the mantra, “namaste.”
Each day I witness the world’s suffering; I witness both the darkest and brightest parts of humanity. I look at a young girl we serve, thinking of the unspeakable suffering she has faced, and I think, “we are one.” I stand face to face with a teenage boy who has spent the better part of his existence on this planet begging, doing drugs, sleeping under scraps of cardboard, segregated from a society that is scared of him, and I think, “I honor the love, light, truth, beauty, and peace within you.” Yoga has become essential to my moral and spiritual life, connecting me to people and places I will never know.
In the past year, I have begun teaching yoga at the community center we run for our youth. The practice of yoga has become a central form of healing for these youth. In a place where suffering, hardship, light, peace, love, fear, etc. are glaring, exasperated each day, yoga gives voice to that. Yoga validates the idea that all of these things can exist at once, and at the end of the day we will rest with our brothers and sisters, laying in peace on the mat. Yoga validates that troubles cannot overcome you; you have the power to find your strength, to lean on the consistency of breath, to own your experience. As you can imagine, sharing yoga practice with the youth we serve has been a powerful experience for all of us.
Along with personal and spiritual desires, I want to complete Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) in order to better facilitate yoga as an art, creative outlet, and form of reflection for our youth who count on yoga as an essential part of their lives. Upon completing the YTT, I will come back to Uganda and offer classes to eager Ugandan youth searching desperately for a way to experience stillness in the midst of remarkable hardship. Additionally, I would like to see yoga become more popular in East Africa. Living in one of the most volatile regions in the world, entrenched with violence, tribal feuds, and more, I truly believe yoga could make a monumental difference in the future of East Africa. I believe on day there will be men standing face to face in war who will think, “the light in me acknowledges the light in you,” and they will put down the gun. It is my dream to open a yoga studio and self wellness center in Uganda.
I am continuously inspired by the undeniable inner strength and peace perpetuated by a consistent yoga practice and with the appropriate knowledge on how to facilitate yoga, I hope to help conjure this strength and peace for men, women, and youth in East Africa. Having seen the affects that yoga has had on a population that experiences great hardship on a regular basis, I bring a unique perspective to the mat; one of overcoming. As a friend and trusted mentor to many youth in East Africa, I yearn to bring a more informed practice into their lives. With your help, together we can bring a bit of peace to East Africa.