Laura Henderson was chosen as Bhakti Chai’s Q2 “Living Your Bhakti” Leader. Here is her story on how she came to be living her purpose – or her “Bhakti”!
When the opportunity came along to partner with Bhakti Chai through their 2013 alliance with Off The Mat, Into The World, I was delighted to have the opportunity to share my story and my non-profit, Growing Places Indy, with people outside of our community. I’m not from Indiana, and like most people, before living here nothing much came to mind when I thought of Indiana or Indianapolis. Now that I have chosen to make Indianapolis home, and to invest myself deeply in the land and people here, I love to share the beautiful stories of people and places that I have found. I’m excited that as Bhakti’s Q2 “Living Your Bhakti” Leader, we were all able to spread awareness of our passions and the manifestation of our great work!
How did I come to a place where I was truly “Living my Bhakti”? Here is my story:
A few years ago, I met two amazing women who were living their purpose – or as I now call it “living their Bhakti — in ways that I found revolutionary and inspiring. One of those women was Seane Corn, who was teaching yoga with Off The Mat, Into the World in a way I had not encountered. I heard her asking us to consider how we were activating the awareness we found on our mats in our lives in ways that led us to be the change we hoped to see in the world. The second was Debbie Apple, a dairy farmer in central Indiana raising 100% grass fed cows for raw milk. Debbie spoke truth to power in a way that spoke to my soul as she educated and advocated for a food system that worked with the ecology of our land and bodies rather than against them. These two women offered call-to-action that spoke to the core of my being, and I found I simply had to respond.
Fast-forward six years, and my response has manifested into Growing Places Indy, a small non-profit that I founded and direct with the mission to empower individuals – and through individuals communities – to “Grow well, Eat well, Live well and Be well”. Because my inspiration came through first-hand experiences and relationships, our work is activated through opportunities to engage in first-hand experiences and relationships that connect individuals to how and where food is grown and raised, who is growing it, and how to eat it. Because yoga and meditation are central to my ability to show up and do the work that I need to do, we offer yoga and meditation classes to the public, which in turn benefit our programs.
On May 11, 2013, Growing Places Indy hosted “Follow the Trail to Be Well,” as part of official dedication celebration of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a 13-mile recreational trail that circumnavigates downtown Indianapolis, connecting the different cultural districts and neighborhoods. One of our urban micro-farms is located along the Cultural Trail in White River State Park – over 200 acres of recreation and green space in the heart of the city. We offered yoga classes and opportunities to work and learn in the garden throughout the day, as marching bands, street performers, and families of every walk of life passed along the trail that day, and stopped to watch, ask questions, try out yoga or a gardening activity, and of course enjoy a sample of Bhakti Chai.
On June 21, 2013, Indianapolis yoga studios joined together to host the inaugural Monumental Yoga event. We closed down traffic on the south half of Moment Circle, at the center of downtown Indianapolis, in the middle of the workday for an all levels sun salutation celebration of the Solstice. Over 1,200 registered for the event, and it was a site like none we’ve seen in this city. On a day where the temperature topped 90, first time and veteran practitioners alike were undeterred from laying out their mats and joining in the fun. It was really fun to have a “How are you living your Bhakti?” banner at the Bhakti Chai sample table, and on such a hot day the cold chai was extra popular!
This has been such a fun partnership for me personally, and for Growing Places Indy. We are grateful to Bhakti Chai and Off the Mat, Into the World for the opportunity to share our story! If you find yourself in Indianapolis, get in touch! We’d love to help you find the food, yoga and activities that will make your Indy experience one in which you get to eat well, be well and have fun!