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May 01, 2018

“You are not here to change the world, you are here to listen.”

A nomad, by definition, is someone who travels from place to place, without permanent residence, and helping others along the way. If you were to sum up Inner Fire Luminary Manager, Shayla, in one word, it would benomad.Not only is this beautiful soul travelling the world on a whim and taking in new sights and cultures on a regular basis, she’s also putting herself to good use.

Not long ago, Shayla decided she was going to spend part of the summer in Greece teaching English and yoga to refugees. Without going into too much political detail, there are a large number of Syrian refugees living in Greece, and there are organizations that hire volunteers to teach English–and in Shayla’s case, yoga–to groups of refugees.

Starting out in Athens, Shayla spent four weeks volunteering at a community centre, teaching yoga and English to refugee women; She ended up extending her stay another three weeks so she could travel to northern Greece to volunteer at at a refugee camp in Lamia. Shayla only expected to be teaching english, but to her surprise, the ladies had been asking for yoga, as well.  “The yoga was amazing,” she says. “It created community. The first class they’d seen each other around but didn’t know names or where each other was from. By the last class they were going to get each other from their homes to come to class!”

Shayla’s attention was first brought to the refugee crisis through social media, and she says it made her heart hurt. Given that Shayla is a full-time traveller, she knew her lifestyle permitted her to do something to help. She just had to figure out what that help would look like.

When people say ‘refugee’ they immediately forget that these are real people who have families, who wake up every morning and drink coffee, who are grateful to the people who are helping them. But they do still miss their comfortable homes, their nice things, their cars, friends they had to separate from, family they lost. They have sisters and brothers that have died in the war,” she says. And that’s not something to forget.

This experience has taught Shayla a lot about teaching yoga; she had to find new ways to communicate, leading the women by using signs on the wall saying “right” and “left” so they can learn some English and follow her instructions. She was also reminded of the importance of self-care. “When you are a caregiver and/or educator,” Shayla explains, “it is very important to take care of yourself and put your oxygen mask on first, so to say. It’s easy to not eat, not sleep-living on coffee and making other unhealthy choices. We are closed Saturday and Sunday to recharge our batteries and get out and explore a bit,” she says, speaking of the camp she volunteered at.

When we heard what Shayla was going to be up to this summer, we wanted to do something to support her and the refugees. So we sent over a box of our leggings for the ladies, since they didn’t always have clothing that was easy to move in. The ladies didn’t understand, at first, that the pants were for them, Shayla recalls. “When I pulled the pants out of my bag the ladies held them, told me how beautiful they were and then put them back. They didn’t realize it was a gift,” she says. It took some time but she was finally able to express that the pants were a gift for them, the ladies were completely shocked. “FOR ME?!” they proclaimed. “They were so excited, they took them into the another room and tried them on and practiced yoga in them,” Shayla says. “They kept talking about how easy it was to move in them during yoga!”

For more of Shayla’s adventure stories, you canvisit her YouTube channel. If you’re interested in becoming an Inner Fire Luminary, like Shayla, you can contact her atluminaries@myinnerfire.com.