Serva (Service Work)

For the last ten years I have provided “serva” or service work in Peru, offering trauma sensitive yoga classes to women in my neighborhood. These women have survived violence of all kinds and are very grateful to have access to free of charge yoga classes while I am there. In addition to this group I also offer yoga to a group of women and men with mental disabilities (Asumen).

The first couple of years I use to go from house to house to recruit them and their response was “yoga?” “what is yoga?” “I do not want to change my religion.” Once I told them they did not have to change their religion, they reluctantly came to my house to check it out. These last few years as soon as they find out I am there they come knocking on my door and eagerly ask when I will start teaching. I think is because there are not other safe spaces for them to rest, to relax or to be; spaces where they have choices, where for an hour they forget their roles and responsibilities; where no one is judging them or where there are expectations; where they can be how they are. For most of them, these classes are all they have as part of their healing process. Access to psychotherapy or counseling of any kind are not existent. My dream is to someday offer a teacher training right in my neighborhood and have them learn to teach to other women in our community and also to reach out to other neighborhoods.

This year I am planning to offer warm water yoga, which will be the very first time they will experience this type of healing practice. I am grateful that people already have donated yoga pants and bathing suit for the students.

If you would like to support this work, donations will provide the students with drinking water, snacks, transportation for trip to a yoga studio in Lima. In addition, we do a day trip to the beach: transportation, entrances fees, umbrella rentals, bathroom rentals, snacks, beverages and lunch, and weekly rental of a swimming pool for water yoga. I hope you would consider to support this worthwhile effort. No amount is too small. If you wish to donate, you can send your donation to Maria Sanchez (email me for my address) or via Venmo: Maria-Sanchez-391