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Take care of yourself, starting with Erin DeSantis’ Kenton County Library yoga class (for mind, body)

By Maridith Yahl
NKyTribune health reporter

When Erin DeSantis took a yoga class over five and a half years ago, little did she know it would change her life. Practicing yoga brought a self-awareness she had never known.

Erin DeSantis

“I really got to know myself just from that practice. Just coming within my own self. Before I did yoga, I really didn’t have the best body image or self-confidence. Yoga was the thing to solidify how I was,” DeSantis says.

For DeSantis, bringing movement to the body while working through things in her mind helped her gain clarity. Taking a yoga class, she says, you are in your own self-care.

“It’s time for you to move, breathe, and be. For me, it was just wonderful.”

DeSantis feels lucky to work at the Kenton County Public Library (KCPL). She loves to be able to work with the public and use the practices she has learned from yoga every day with ordinary people.

Hamsa yoga is a type of yoga that spreads goodness and peace. This goodness is spread through any means, from what you eat, to your interactions with people, and how you speak to yourself. It is a peaceful way of living that can be spread directly or indirectly to anyone you interact with, says DeSantis.

“I’m interested in bringing yoga to people who have trauma in their life,” says DeSantis. Specifically focusing on complex trauma (multiple traumas), “I just want to bring them the light of yoga. The loving-kindness that yoga can provide you.”

Time in yoga can change a person. DeSantis says we are each given healing tools, we have the resources inside.

“It all begins with your breath. Just breathing,” she says.

An introduction to trauma yoga came while training. She was taught in a studio that had yoga for former addicts who then had a recovery meeting after. Then, last summer DeSantis took training in bringing yoga to veterans.

“I know the peace of mind can happen for veterans who are suffering from PTSD and how yoga can affect [them] positively,” she says. Nidra yoga is meditation lying down while being guided through relaxing the body. It is aimed at veterans and others who have gone through traumatizing events.

“I am absolutely on fire to get the peace out to people,” DeSantis says. So much so she is working on how to start a non-profit to bring the wellness of yoga and meditation. “That’s my plan, that’s where I’ll be. I just have to, I can’t have these tools and not help people with them,” says DeSantis.

“If I could afford it, I would walk around the streets and turn out yoga to people who are not doing well. It’s my interest because I find that people don’t have the tools, don’t have access to yoga,” DeSantis says.

She says classes can range from $10-$30 and there are a lot of people out there who need it but cannot afford it. Case in point, a bus driver she taught at the library who was prescribed yoga by his doctor because of stress but could not afford to pay for classes.

This is a reason why she leads classes at the library so that the general public can have access.

This “is what the library means to me, a place where everyone can come and get materials or come to programs and everything is always free,” says DeSantis.

She teaches a class on Mondays which is currently being streamed on KCPL Facebook live page at 9 a.m. She also posts them on Instagram as “Mindful Minutes.” She recently took training in teaching yoga to children and is hoping to get that as an online resource at the library soon.

Before the coronavirus shut down, she took her trauma-informed yoga to all three KCPL branches, calling it Warrior Yoga. Open to vets, first responders, and the like, DeSantis is planning to get this up and running again once it is safe. She had partnered with a veteran’s organization based in Independence, 22 Until Valhalla, which combats veteran suicide.

There are many physical and mental benefits to yoga, DeSantis says. Yoga improves flexibility, builds muscle strength, and improves balance. Being low impact, yoga is easier on the joints, making it accessible for those with arthritis. Focusing on breathing and the body has a calming effect on the mind, relieving stress. All of this leads to a better awareness of your own body.

Yoga can also be a coping mechanism. She says it can help to cope with a wide range of negative habits, including eating, drugs, alcohol, fighting, or a host of others. She describes it as a peaceful movement.

The state of calm yoga creates mental well-being. The positivity created on the yoga mat is shared with others in the world. DeSantis says it is called yoga practice “because it celebrates life’s imperfections.”

“I’m taking yoga outside of a studio to the people,” she says. “I would love to throw yoga down to the people is where I’m coming from. All of this has been a wonderful journey, honestly.”

Maridith Yahl is the NKyTribune’s health reporter

Thanks to Report for America, with support from the Ground Truth Project, St. ELizabeth Healthcare, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the Douglas G. Martin Foundation. You, too, can support this reporting and other NKyTribune reporting with a tax-deductible donation today. Help us continue to provide accurate, up-to-date local news and information you can depend on.

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One Comment

  1. Linda Rauen says:

    Erin is truly passionate about helping others through yoga.
    Thank you so much for recognizing her in this wonderful article.

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