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Friday, June 09, 2023

Free yoga classes to teach young girls empowerment

A semicircle of young girls formed around Lauren MacKay on Saturday, intently following the yoga instructor’s every move as best they could.

The girls stretched out their limbs, closed their eyes and learned basic techniques in an effort by MacKay, the 27-year-old owner of Zen Vibe Yoga, to teach them how to deal with daily stressors through yoga. She taught the inaugural Flower Empower Yoga class, held at the Headquarters branch of the Alachua County Library District, as a way to teach young girls about empowerment and coping.

“Raise your hand if you’re nervous,” MacKay said at the beginning of class. “Now raise your hand if you’re excited.”

For most girls, it was their first yoga class.

Flower Empower Yoga is a monthly, free-of-charge class offered to girls 11 to 18 years old. The class will be held on the third Saturday of each month at the downtown library, located at 401 E. University Ave.

MacKay said she partnered with local nonprofit Dream on Purpose to hold the classes because she was looking for some outreach opportunities to teach free yoga.

“It’s good to give them tools to handle the stress they may encounter in their daily lives,” she said.

During the first class Saturday, MacKay taught basic principles of yoga like breathing, balancing and posing.

“We’re going to do cow-cat pose,” she said as a few girls giggled. “Yes, it sounds a little strange.”

Friends Leah and Erin, both 11, came to the class together to try yoga for the first time. The girls said they both plan on coming back next month.

“I thought it was entertaining and relaxing,” Leah said. “It refreshes your mind.”

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