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Yoga team helps Afghan refugees integrate, navigate life in US

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indy Community Yoga organization is helping Afghan families integrate and navigate life in the United States.

What started out as a three-month commitment in Indy has turned families into friends.

The Indy Community Yoga team is intentional about making yoga accessible. All of the classes are free and in public spaces including Tarkington Park.

It’s nearly one year since refugees evacuated Afghanistan. They say community support is very much vital.

In just three days, Monica Ahadi and her family left the home they’ve always known. “Fortunately, we leave Afghanistan very soon,” said Ahadi, with her mother by her side.

Like countless other Afghan families, they temporarily settled in one of several military bases. Their stop took them to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, for two months and six days.

“I showed my father’s documents to the military, and they realized we needed to leave Afghanistan because we were in danger,” Ahadi recalled about leaving Afghanistan.

They now live in Indianapolis. The Indy Community Yoga team is showing them the way. It’s one of the many community teams working with Exodus Refugee. Tony Wiederhold’s is the founder and says what Afghans are experiencing is familiar. His parents escaped Saigon Vietnam in 1975.

“How can I make it easier for the people who are going through it now,” Wiederhold said.

Wiederhold and Stephanie Adams are part of the yoga team helping bring yoga, meditation practice and more to communities around the city.

“Yoga is equal parts mindfulness as well as self-care, around connecting with myself, and my body, and understanding, and pausing to feel my feelings,” Adams said.

The idea of wellness doesn’t stop on the mat. It’s through community support, helping with shopping, school registration, getting driver’s licenses and more.

“Yoga and meditation practice is about coming to terms with the situation in the world as it is right now, and when you do that how do you take right actions,” said Wiederhold.

Ahadi says although the family is starting over, she is ready to experience it all. “It was a whole change, but it was a good change and it was a positive change.”

Tying back to the Indy Community Yoga mission of making yoga accessible, a mindful meditation session will be 11 a.m. Friday at Tarkington Park, 45 W. 40th St.