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May 2, 2024 30 mins
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Welcome to Pulse of the Region,brought to you by the Metro Hertford Alliance.
The Metro Hertford Alliance collaborates with investorsand partners to elevate the Hartford region
through economic development work, convening thecommunity, and providing chamber support for the
City of Hartford. Learn more abouttheir mission and how to get involved at
Metrohartford dot com. Pulse of theRegion is produced in partnership with oak Hill.

Oakhill was originally founded as a schoolfor the blind in eighteen ninety three.
Oak Hill has provided holistic, personcentered services for individuals with disabilities for
over one hundred and thirty years.With empowerment and independence as its guiding principles.
Oakhill works in partnership with the individualsit serves to provide residential education and

enrichment opportunities. Learn more at OAKHILLCTdot org. Now here's your host for
Pulse of the Region, Kate Bawman. Hello, Hello, and welcome to
a Pulse of the Region. Thisshow where we highlight all of the incredible,
wonderful things happening here throughout the greaterHartford region. I'm your host,
Kate Bauman here today in the iHeartMediastudios and beautiful studios. They are here

in our capital city of Hartford,and excited. I'm very, very excited
about today's show, which I thinkI say every week, but this show
especially, it's definitely something that hitsme personally. So thrilled to have our
guests here as today we are gettingthe pulse about yoga in our city and
the positive impact this program is makingon our community, both mentally and also

physically. So we have two guestsjoining us here today in the studio,
sitting here with smiling faces on thisnice spring day here as we kick off
Mental Health Awareness Month here in May. So a wonderful day have us here
all recording. So first, sheis representing Connecticure and Yoga in our city.

It is Casera Philippas So Casarah,welcome to Pulse of the Region.
Thanks for having me, of course, no, very excited to have you
here today and joining us from MentalHealth Connecticut. She is their marketing and
communications coordinator. Braiden Ransom. Braden, Welcome to the show. Hi,
thank you so much for having me. Of course, of course, no

a great conversation today. Yoga inthe city is one of my personal passions.
So here to do here in Hertford. So excited to share more and
really hear kind of what's upcoming forthis year. So wan at Caserra,
we'll start with you if you couldtell people for who may not be familiar,
tell us about Yoga in our City. Absolutely. So. Yoga in

Our City is a community based initiativeand it offers free yoga classes at parks
in Connecticut cities all across the state. So the program takes place in Bridgeport,
Hartford, New Haven, New London, Willemantick and Waterbury. And the
classes are starting May eighteenth and they'llrun through October thirteenth. And again they're

completely free classes per week in eachof these cities, and it's a great
way to get out into the community. Definitely is. And about how many
people have you seen participate in thisprogram? Yeah, so it really varies
depending on the class. We couldhave you know, anywhere from twenty to
over one hundred people at a classI know Bushnell Park, Elizabeth Park.

They will sometimes get over one hundredpeople at some of these classes. And
like I said, there's multiple classesin each of these cities per week.
So last year, we actually celebratedover ten thousand oh my good classes offered
through the program total. Yeah,is incredible, Absolutely incredible. I know
I've been lucky. I'm a BushnellPark on Wednesdays after work and that's there's

been this a couple of times.You have a couple hundred people. It's
incredible to see the lawn just filledwith yoga mats. Absolutely so, it's
so great. Well excited to talkmore about that today, But first,
Brandon would love to get an overviewfrom you about mental health Connecticut. Yes,
absolutely so. We are a nonprofit, a statewide nonprofit focused on advocacy,

education, and service. We haveresidential facilities across the state and our
administrative offices in Farmington, OK So. We do a lot to support the
homelessness population, rehousing individuals and gettingfolks back into the workforce who may face
social determinants of health otherwise and needsupports in that aspect. We also share

a lot of free resources for thestate. So with this month being Mental
Health Awareness Month, we're amping upour resource hub and sharing out different resources,
one of which being yoga in ourcity as a self care practice.
Fantastic. We'll definitely talk more aboutthat partnership, but would love do you
mind highlighting to just a little bitabout some of the other resources that you

do provide. Yeah. Absolutely,So our Art of well Being programming has
moved to the Hispanic Health Council indowntown Hartford. It's located in the bottom
floor, so the basement of theHispanic Health Council Family Wellness Center now hosts
our Art of Wellbeing programming, whichis promoting the intersection of arts and wellness

and using creativity as a means ofcare and creating access to care. So
those also are all offered free completelyright now. It's from two to six
pm. You're able to go thereand we have supplies there, art supplies,
music supplies, So it's focusing ondifferent intersections of wellness and the artistic

creativity, so music, creative writing, poetry, journaling, and also we're
looking at getting some pottery installed inthere and doing ceramics possible in the future.
So okay, yeah, so ceramicsone night, yoga the next.
This is a good summer, Ithink spring we have coming up, so

with that yoga in our city,Casarah would love to talk a little bit
more, is you know, let'sgo back to kind of who can join
the classes. You know, you'dsaid it's kind of free for all,
but if you give a little bitmore details on participation, Yeah, we
encourage really anyone from any walk oflife to come and enjoy the classes.
That's really what's so great about yogaas a practice in itself is one you

don't really need that many materials tocome, right Like we have some people
come and they just bring a mat, Or if you don't have a yoga
mat, you could bring a towel, a blanket. You could just do
yoga in the grass and you're reallyjust moving your body, so you don't
really need to bring too many things. But if you're a first time participant

or a thirteen year veteran yogi,you are encouraged to come. All of
the teachers are able to provide modifications. If for some reason you're not able
to do one of the poses,then there's so many different options that you
can do to still get a goodstretch and a good workout in. And

even sometimes we've had people come tothe classes and just lay on their yoga
mat out in the park and justsoak in the environment and be in the
community. And distress after a longday. So we really encourage anyone,
any age, any background to comeout and join. Fantastic And how long
ago to yoga and our city start. So it initially started in twenty twelve.

I was started by TJ. Clinchof Civic Mind, a community development
organization, and it initially was justserving the Hartford community, and then over
the years it has sort of expanded. Okay, I was going to expanded
a lot because yes, yeah,So we're now in six cities and actually

we're excited to announce we're adding Middletownagain this year. Fantastic the first year
we'll be in Middletown. So thenit'll bring it to Bridgeport, Hartford,
New Haven, New London, Willemantic, Waterbury and Middletown. Okay, nice.
And now Connecticut has really been involvedfrom I want to say the very
beginning. I don't know if that'sexactly correct, but really what inspired Connecticut

to get involved? Yeah, SoConnecticut has been the presenting sponsor since its
inception, and the program is reallysuch a natural fit for Connecticare, whose
mission is to create healthier futures forcommunity communities across Connecticut and for Connecticut residents
as well. Obviously, there's somany physical and mental health benefits of yoga,

so it really was a natural alignmentfor Connecticut's mission of helping folks across
the state get and stay healthy.Wonderful. I love that. And now,
Braydon, what about mental health Connecticutkind of you know, how first,
what inspired the organization to get involvedwith Yoga in Our City? Yeah,
so, similar to what Kasara said, we're a proud partner of Yoga

in Our City mainly because we sharea common mission and vision of increasing access
to services and focusing on the wholehealth of an individual. So part of
mhc's vision is focusing on the conditionof being human and we see that respected
in the work that Yoga in OurCity does. Okay, so we're very

happy to collaborate with them and supporttheir mission and endeavors. Nice and how
exactly are you guys kind of gettinginvolved with the program on a day to
day basis. Yeah, absolutely,So, aside from supporting the program ourselves,
I know many staff members go tothe Yogan our Parks program, so
we're excited to see that revamped forthis summer. Aside from that, we

also collaborate on content. So we'relooking at continuing with monthly content as well
as this month for Mental Health AwarenessMonth and last month and twenty or least
year sorry, twenty twenty three,Yoga in Our City has collaborated with Mental
Health Connecticut for our Mental Health Awarenesscampaign for self Care Sundays, so we

hear from Yoga in our City instructorson how they think about self care,
what they do for self care,and we help promote that out to the
public as well as promoting the Yogain our City online studio and the parks
program. Okay, and are youseeing kind of a lot of individuals that
engage with your organization could to participatein Yoga in our City. Yes.

So one of the things that wedo and all of our collaborations is we
promote connecting with Yoga in our City. Go to their website, go use
these resources as an ongoing means ofself care. You know, we have
the as I said, monthly correctcollaborations, but we're hoping that people use
the lessons from those collaborations throughout themonth and then their day to day.

We love that, love it nowbecause are obviously a lot of development over
since over the years, since twentytwelve, is you know, can you
talk a little bit on just whereit started and kind of you know,
we've touched a little bit and whereit is today, but would love to
see I know it's been huge growthand huge success. Yeah. Absolutely.
As I mentioned, it was firststarted and it only served the Hartford area,

so we have since then expanded acrossthe state. And in addition to
that, we've added more classes eachweek to all of the cities. We
have launched a virtual site so thatpeople can continue their practice with virtual yoga
classes in the off season, notjust throughout the summer. And then we

have also added bilingual classes at acouple of the different city in a couple
of the different cities, so we'llencourage people to check out the schedule and
if you'd like to do a yogaclass in Spanish, then we have that
available to you. Very really tryingto make it as accessible to everyone as
possible. And yeah, those arepretty much the main developments over the years.

We've gotten some really great feedback.More and more people are hearing about
the program, which is amazing,and we've gotten some partnerships, I know
the past year or two, wewere at the Hartford Yard Goats. We
were doing a partnership with them andhaving classes on the park there. So
now were those with or without thegoats. I've got without the goats,

yeah, because yeah, So thatwas a fun partnership. And you know,
partnering with Mental Health Connecticut, we'rereally just expanding everywhere that we can
and trying to get the word outto as many people. Nice I had
forgotten to mention. We are alsopartnering with Yoga in our city this coming
Saturday for a Day of Wellness,So we will be hosting a yoga class

and a yoga in our city instructorwill be there to represent Yoga in our
city. That's happening from Saturday fromnine to ten. Okay, and can
talk about a little bit. Sothat'll be this Saturday, probably when listeners
are listening, and so can youtalk a little bit to what else the
Day of Wellness will entail. Absolutely, So we're going to host free wellness
activities from nine to one. Fromnine to ten, folks can enjoy yoga.

From ten to eleven, they canenjoy sound healing with Kelvin Young,
and then for the rest of theday, and during that time as well,
they're free to see our wellness vendorsthat will all be on Pratt Street
out door event. So checking outthe vendors on Pratt Street. We have
some food give but we have somefood giveaways and some jewelry vendors. So

there's a lot of different avenues intowellness and what that means. So we
try to have a lot of vendorsto represent that. Okay, nice,
very nice. I like it.And a lot of new restaurants opening on
Pratt Street too. I always liketo plug that late. Yeah. So
in addition, and you can stayfor lunch. Perfect And you know,
anything else new You mentioned Sarah thatMiddletown expanding for this season. Anything else

new this year in twenty twenty four, All I would say is, in
addition to Middletown joining, which isextremely exciting, Yoga in our city is
also starting to do its own teachertraining, So we're actually training our own
yoga instructors rather than seeing now currentinstructors. Okay, so we're really making

it a whole cohesive brand. Andthen in addition to that, we're also
expanding the time frame that we're offeringthe in the Park classes. So it
used to go from Memorial Day toLabor Day and now it's starting May eighteenth
and ending October thirteenth. We see, as we've seen the weather kind of
extend a little bit further into thefall, and that's sort of a great

time to get out and do someyoga. That definitely is. And now
the teacher the certifications instruction is thatare you finding kind of individuals from the
cities that you're the programs serving oryou kind of where you're finding the demographic
coming from to take advantage of thatprogram. Absolutely. Yeah. So we've
found people from really all over thestate, but specifically in you know,

the cities that we're looking to targetwith the classes. Especially very nice,
very nice. So next we wouldlike to talk a little bit about the
benefits. So certainly you know,physical benefits, mental benefits, So well
start with the physical benefits and ifyou could talk a little bit just on
you know, kind of what arepeople experience. Maybe you've been doing yoga

for years and you haven't really thoughtabout it, or maybe looking to consider
participating. Absolutely yeah. I thinkwhen people initially think of yoga, they
think, okay, flexibility, right, but right there's so much more than
that as far as physical benefits go. There's also balance and strength and heart
health, cognitive function. It helpsreduce your stress and improve your sleep and

your energy levels, and it reallyis well rounded. And then you know,
adding on the mental health benefits aswell. It's more than people I
think initially think when they think ofdoing a yoga practice. Definitely, and
that's our breed and would love ifyou could talk a little bit about just
on the you know, the mentalhealth side and some of the benefits there.

Absolutely, and I know Casarah mentionedthe benefit of possibly getting better sleep
after participating in yoga, and thathelps our mental health as well, right
because we need to be able tosleep and have good sleep levels the next
day we can wake up energized.Aside from that, participating in yoga definitely
helps people to lower their stress levelsand increase our overall resilience. And I've

also found that people who participate inyoga as a practice often find increased gratitude
because they're seeing the mentioned prior,the strength and the added flexibility if that's
what you're going for, or kindof just setting aside the time to practice

something whatever it is is beneficial andthe added benefits that come with the mindfulness
and aspects of yoga make it areally powerful self care practice. Okay,
definitely, no, that's it's makingme. I'm like, I need to
go to class to right, Idefinitely do so. And you know,
one additional thing that I want usto touch on today, Braden, is

you know, here in Connecticut,I think many parts of the country,
we're kind of hearing you know,you're hearing the news different stories about kind
of really this loneliness sort of epidemic. And I think certainly the pandemic brought
brought this on and it probably expandedthis from many individuals. And so if
you kind of first just talk alittle bit on kind of the state of

the sea and really, you know, what are you seeing from your perspective,
you know, as it relates toloneliness and what people are dealing with.
Absolutely, so we are seeing anincreased in loneliness, and we're also
seeing an increase in people sharing that, right, so they are saying that
they're lonely. There's something positive about, you know, breaking down the stigma

for people to speak up about this. But you're not alone in the thought
that the COVID nineteen pandemic likely exacerbatednot only the loneliness, but also the
need to ask for those supports andto put it in front of people and
say, this is what I'm experiencingand I need help. So Connecticut is
doing a lot to try to supportthe loneliness epidemic as a whole, with

the Connecticut Coalition to End Loneliness startedby for All Ages, Mental Health Connecticut
and Yoga in our city. Irecently saw our partners of the Connecticut Coalition
Tonness End Loneliness. Nice. Yeah, And part of the mission of the
organizations who partner with that is tokeep that in mind in all of the

work that we do, and soin each of our programs, we're saying,
how can we kind of tackle this, what can we do to help
so that folks know that they're notalone? Okay, that's great, And
I don't know, because Sarah,you want to add in kind of just
on Connecticutre's participation there. Yeah,absolutely, I know in yoga in our
city specifically, it's a really greatway to just get out into the community,

even if you're not necessarily talking tothose other participants at the class.
Just knowing that you're out there togetherand you all have you know, your
own individual goals, but ultimately thegoal of bettering yourselves and just being surrounded
by your community's It really does makean impact, a positive impact on the

loneliness definitely, And that's where youknow, if you want to add on
to that too, just yoga inour city specifically, I think you know,
and how that's addressing the issue ofloneliness. Yeah, we find that
yoga is community building and bringing folkstogether in that aspect. The ability to
physically see other people in your communitycoming together, the time with the Yoga

in our Parks program being outside,the time spent outside in your community,
those are things that add to ourability to feel connected to each other and
that decreases our overall loneliness. Asidefrom that, I would say that communities
can grow stronger and thrive together whenindividuals have the ability to thrive. And

the Yoga in our City programs helpsindividuals thrive, and that's going to have
and it's going to have a positiveimpact on our community. Perfect. Perfect,
Can I just add one more thingto yes? Please? I think
it also is a great opportunity togo to a class with a friend or
a colleague or a family member.So yes, you know, it's sort

of a nice excuse to get outthere together and to encourage each other.
I don't know about you, butI definitely I'm more motivated to exercise more
when I have a buddy to goalong with me. So I just think
that's another another positive impact of it, that you can bring a friend or
family member whoever. Definitely well,And that's where I think too, even

in going is you know, Iwas saying typically on Wednesdays, I'll go,
and it's there's sort of a groupthat goes every Wednesday. So even
if you're kind of holding yourself accountable, like oh, they'll know if I'm
not there this week, and thatgives you a little extra boost to make
sure, you know, you walkover to the park, which is nice.
Right, And we spoke earlier aboutyoga not always seeming accessible for everyone
or this stigma about who it's for, what it's for, and so yoga

in our city in the parks program, and like you said, going bringing
a friend not there's no necessary necessarybeginner level or it doesn't matter what your
experience level is. You're able togo and participate anyway. So I think
that helps bring people at different levelsand different experiences together in the community.
Definitely, definitely. Now where canpeople go to learn about classes, you

know, kind of the schedule andall the fun details. People can find
the schedule at Yoga Inurcity dot comand you can also sign up for our
e newsletter there and you'll get allof our updates and the exciting things happening
this year. And then also oursocial media pages, so we have Facebook,
Instagram, Twitter, it's just atYoga in Our City and if we

ever have cancelations due to weather orrain or anything, that's where we'll provide
those updates as well. Okay,nice, and then Brian want to talk
and actually kind of for the lastsegment of the show, just kind of
the look ahead for both organizations,mental Health Connecticut and then also Connecticut and
kind of what's upcoming in addition toYoga in Our City. So you had

mentioned kind of a great Wellness Daythat's here in May, but if you
could share anything else kind of comingup, you know, for these summer
months for Mental Health Connecticut. Absolutely, so, as you know, May
is mental Health Awareness Month, andso we've just kicked off our month.
We have the first event that we'rehosting on Saturday. As I mentioned previously,

throughout the month of May, we'llbe at different events, different wellness
initiatives, and we'll be posting contentdaily for our Let's Face It campaign.
Okay. So Let's Face It isaimed at breaking stigma across the state of
Connecticut by sharing stories from Connecticut residentsand organizations, one of which being Yoga

in our city. Okay, Sowe'll hear from them each Sunday for self
care Sundays. And you can learnmore about that campaign by visiting our website.
Okay. And what is your websiteis mh CEO n N dot org.
So mh con like Connecticut, perfectwork. Okay. That seemed to
be the toughest questions I've asked you, Brandon, isn't always the way it

works? Hard? I love it. And now because sera, can you
talk a little bit about Connecticure certainlyyou know, involved in the Let's Face
It in some other programs, anythingyou can touch on and kind of what's
upcoming. Absolutely, So we're reallylooking forward to partnering with Mental Health Connecticut

again this year as the presenting sponsorof the Let's Face It campaign. Nice,
So we're really looking forward to that. We always enjoy our partnership with
Mental Health Connecticut, and then Connecticutis also a really great community partner.
So we're just looking forward to gettingout in the community and volunteering and just
doing our best to make a differencein the lives and the health of the

residents across the state. Fantastic well, certainly making a big difference. So
for individuals that want to learn moreabout yoga in our city, we'll give
another reminder and where can they goto visit? Yes, so yoga Inourcity
dot com. There's no spaces,just all one word. And our social
media handles are at yoga and ourCity Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. All

right, and about Mental Health Connecticut, a get reminder where can people go?
You can go to mhco n Ndot org or MHCN dot org and
our social media handles are at mentalHealth ct Okay, fantastic, And we
do have a little bit more timein the show, so whenever we have

this, I love to put youguys on the spot if everyone's up for
that. Fantastic So, and itcan't be the answer to this can't be
yoga in our city, so becauseI think that would be probably a good
answer, but I know so I'mprefacing that, but would love to get
from each of you is kind ofwhat do you love most about living or

working here in the Hartford region,So I know which one of you wants
to take that, I could startverse. Okay, good to volunteers answer
that doesn't always happen here. WhatI love most about living and working in
the Hartford region is the people andthe people that share the space and the
drive to make a change and makea difference. I've lived here for a

short time. I moved here fromNorthern Vermont, and in my short time
here, I've seen changes within thestate and positive changes. So that makes
me excited about what's to come,definitely, And if you don't mind highlighting
kind of what's one or two changesthat maybe kind of comes to mind,
well, I would say you broughtto light the businesses opening on Pratt Street,

and so I do. I frequentdowntown Hartford, and those spaces were
vacant for a long time, andso knowing that businesses are coming, that
means people are coming, and thatmeans there's going to be more activity for
you know, families and people whomaybe otherwise would not have spaces to go
and spend that time. So knowingthat there are kind of family friendly spaces

open open to the public are isexciting. Definitely, no, thank you,
And it's always great. I alwaysthink of great. I was born
and raised here in Connecticut, soit's always nice to hear someone who wasn't
since you know, sometimes I think, you know, there's many of us
from here, but it's always wonderfulto get a fresh perspective. Yeah,
so all right, now you're onthe hot seat. Yeah, I would

just say being surrounded by so manymotivated professionals and just I think great leaders
in the state, it's just reallymotivating and encouraging me in my personal and
career development and growth. So that'sbeen a really great thing. And then
also there's just so many fun andenjoyable things to do in such a small

space. I guess that you don'thave to drive very far to go to
all of these fun things, whetherit's a yard goats game, you know,
wolf pack game, or yoga inour city. I did say,
but that's a lot of the answer. But yeah, there's just or you
know, even great hiking spots andthings like that. There's just so many
fun things to do in the area. And I just really appreciate how tight

knit and I think some people sometimesget discouraged by our small state of Connecticut,
but there really is so many funand great things packed into our tiny
little states. Definitely, I completelyagree. So and you know, last
but not least, can you reminderwhen does yoga in our city kick off?
And cause it's soon, it soons, it's coming up in just a

couple of weeks, it's already May. So May eighteenth is when yoga and
our city will officially kick off.Fantastic, all right, So well,
thank you ladies so much. Igreatly appreciate the conversation and really, you
know, the opportunity that Yoga inour city is providing you thanks to both
of your support and the support ofyou know, of Connecticut Mental Health Connecticut
and other partners too. So thankyou so much. Absolutely thank you for

having us. Thank you so much, of course. So before we sign
off today is we would like towelcome a new investor to the Metro Hertford
Alliance. We refer to our membersas investors because they're investing in the work
that we're doing to help promote andspotlight the great things happening here throughout the
region. So today we welcome FlepstickMobile. Flepstick Mobile is a company.

We're certified, trained and experienced phlebotomistravel to any location of the patient's request
to draw blood, collect samples orswab for specimens to be brought to the
lab for testing. You can learnmore at flepstickmobile dot com. And for
all the details about today's show andhow you can make sure that you're getting

active in the parks with yoga inour city, you can visit pulseoftheregion dot
com. We'd like to give abig thank you to our show partner Okill,
and of course thank you to youfor listening. I'm Kate Auman.
Go out and make today a goodday here in Connecticut.
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