Cristina Afan Lai – Yoga and mindfulness practices for First Nation communities
Cristina Afan Lai is the founder of the project, Yoga and Mindfulness Practices for First Nation Communities, located in Constance Lake First Nations, Canada. The project is to bring yoga and mindfulness practices to First Nations communities for the students and the staff. The project promotes simple yoga asanas, coupled with breathing techniques as a way to achieve overall health and well-being. In addition, mindfulness is introduced as a contemplative practice, which complements the yoga and breathing practice. This is important work because a lot of FN communities, especially in isolated locations (i.e fly-in communities) are experiencing a lot of difficulties with their young people. The conditions of their isolation and the lack of services mean that there are high levels of stress and anxiety, leading to a high suicide rates in the youth.
Cristina was inspired to do this work because she used to work on large-scale projects on indigenous education with UNICEF. It was seeing how the core of the individual was still untouched that motivated her to seek the answers elsewhere. Upon embarking on the meditation path herself, she immediately noticed the difference. The grant will allow her to share her skills as a certified yoga instructor with a certificate in mindfulness with a vulnerable population. The Pollination Project grant will help Cristina purchase yoga mats and blankets.