Ahimsa Activism: Exhale To Inhale
In this bi-weekly series, we interview leaders in organizations working to promote non-violence in the world. If your group is involved in this type of effort, please let us know so we can help spread the word.
Q: What does your organization do?
Kimberly Campbell: Exhale to Inhale brings yoga to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in shelters and community centers. What we focus on is empowerment. We want to create an experience that’s focused on safety, simplicity and choice-making. We try to create an environment that helps set [clients’] expectations and that helps them feel safe in the environment they’re in.
Then, hopefully, at some point they start to reconnect with what they’re feeling and make choices about what feels right and what doesn’t feel right for them based on those feelings. To me, that’s the complete opposite of violence.
Q: Can you give us an example of someone’s life that has been made better through this work?
KC: We’ve heard pretty continuously that women who’ve attended our classes exhibit a higher level of self-awareness, and can identify where in their bodies they’re feeling anxious or depressed, and that they now have this tool to deal with that. For example -- and this happens a great deal -- a woman was going to court and she had to face her abuser. You can imagine how anxiety producing and fear inducing that can be. She said she put her hands on the desk, and put her feet in the floor, she grounded herself, breathed and she told her story. That is something she thinks she would not have been able to do in the same way before finding yoga and our classes.
Q: Who inspires you?
KC: That’s a hard one...there are so many! If I have to choose, I will choose my friend Mary Ann Wasil. She passed away last month from breast cancer. She was the founder of the Get In Touch Foundation and the author of a book called A Diary of Healing – My Intense and Meaningful Life With Cancer. She inspired me with her grace, humor, and an ability to choose love, joy and hope more completely and authentically than anyone I have ever known. Some of her mantras were “Choose joy;” “Sometimes eat cake for breakfast” and my favorite, “Hug people a second longer than you think you should, a second longer than you think is appropriate.”
Q: How can someone participate or volunteer with your organization?
KC: If they want to teach for us the best thing to do is go onto our web site. We’re always looking for assistance in fundraising and raising awareness. People can plan a benefit class at the studio they practice at or anywhere they work out (we’ve had classes at Soul Cycle). If someone has experience with grant writing, we always appreciate that. They can email me directly, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kimberly Campbell is the Executive Director of Exhale to Inhale