The Power Of She

How Yoga Helped One Young Woman Find Her Power of Potential

December 26, 2016

The Power of She is a movement calling women and girls to stand together, collaborate, and celebrate our collective strength. Let’s lift our fellow sisters and help each other realize our limitless potential. In this story, one young woman finds her Power of Potential through her mom’s club, which envisions a society enriched by the inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome.

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When Audrey’s daughter, Estelle, was born with Down syndrome, she immediately reached out to other parents who could understand. The group met weekly, but soon dreamed of forming a more official community for parents of kids with Down syndrome. That’s when Club 21 was born. With the help of other members, Audrey provides educational tools and resources that enable individuals with Down syndrome to be fully included. Through a partnership with local studio Rose City Yoga and mentorship from instructors like Kimi and Mel,  Estelle and her friends have discovered their limitless potential.

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Watch their story about the Power of Potential, then read on to learn more about how these inspirational women are creating a world where everyone is welcome.

Q: What are some of the responses you’ve received from other parents who have discovered Club 21?

AUDREY:
The first response is often tears! Tears of relief – I am not alone. Tears of gratitude – someone will show me the way. We hear again and again from new families how wonderful it felt to have someone at Club 21 say, “Congratulations on your beautiful new baby.” For many families it’s the first and only time they’ll hear those words.
Many of our parents share that when they first learned they were having a child with Down syndrome they felt alone, scared and overwhelmed. After discovering Club 21, and spending time with others on the path, those same parents share how those initial feelings start to fade and are replaced with feelings of hope and belonging. Soon they are imagining a life full of possibilities, a life to be valued, a life to be celebrated.

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Q: Was there a lightbulb moment when you decided to connect Club 21 and yoga?

AUDREY:
I was in the midst of launching a new Club 21 program and while feeling all the stress that comes with that,I decided I needed a yoga break. That’s when it hit me! In all my years of health and fitness, I had yet to share the studio with a person that had Down syndrome?! That needed to change, and it did with the help and support of Rose City Yoga. Kimi and Mel were thrilled to partner with Club 21.

Q: How have you seen Estelle progress since her first yoga class to now?

AUDREY:
Estelle has made great progress since her first “mat moment.” She now possesses an inner calm and confidence both on and off the mat. It’s a joy to see her independently use deep breathing strategies to reduce stress and stay focused. It’s not uncommon for her to roll out her mat and practice a favorite pose or two when she needs a body break.

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Q: What does Club 21’s future look like?

AUDREY:
Club 21 will continue to grow by providing valued programs and services to our families.
We are striving to add new programs and expand our reach regionally in order to better serve the variety of needs from infancy to adulthood. Club 21’s vision is that society will see individuals with Down syndrome as valuable and contributing members of society.

Q: Kimi, what have you learned about yourself from teaching classes for Club 21?

KIMI:
I have learned to practice more compassion and non-attachment in my own practice. As I watch the kids practice at Club 21, they have absolutely no attachments to the postures, the practice, or idealizations of what the practice is “supposed” to look like. The kids are simply present, eager to practice, and to learn and grow without any expectations. When the pressure of performing or expectation is taken away, how much more can we enjoy the journey of our practice and the journey of our lives?

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Q: And Mel, what have the Club 21 kids taught you?

MEL:
Our Club 21 yogis teach me so many things!  But what I really love, is that they are so wonderfully open to each experience with a sense of joy and curiosity, and that goes beyond their yoga practice. What a beautiful and interesting way to approach all that the world has to offer us. Just be curious, and give it a shot.

Q: We heard that recently, Estelle drew a picture of her yoga poses and asked Audrey to share it with you. How did the picture make you feel?

KIMI + MEL:
As yoga teachers, you don’t always get feedback or know if you’re making an impact on your students – you hope!  When we received Estelle’s drawings, it was all we could do to not cry. Our hearts melt every time Estelle shares her love for yoga with us. It is truly such an honor to know we are playing a small part in her yoga journey. It is those moments that make it all worthwhile.

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Q: You have your own studio, Rose City Yoga, but you do more than yoga through your community partnerships. Why is it important to you to look outside the studio?

KIMI + MEL:
Rose City Yoga was born out of the desire to create community in Pasadena through yoga. We first partnered with local non-profit organizations — that’s when we learned a lot of organizations would like a yoga program to complement their current outreach efforts, but may not have it within their budget to implement one. Our yoga classes and events enable us to provide these free yoga programs to our community partners. For us, our vision has always been more than just a studio. We wanted a space where just by showing up and practicing on your mat, you could be contributing and making a difference in your community. Your practice would have a purpose!

Q: What does Power Of She mean to you and why are you excited to be a part of this campaign?

MEL:
The Power of She and this campaign resonates with us on so many levels – as women, as yogis, as business owners, as friends – we are here to lift each other up! Rose City Yoga is all about collaboration: how can we be of service, what can we do, can we do more? And as yoga teachers, we are always looking for ways to connect with our students, whether it is our adult classes or our Club 21 kids: how can we empower them, how can we encourage them and how can we hold space for them to realize the power that lies within. We are stronger together, and when a group of thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate women unite — there is nothing we can’t do.

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Q: Estelle, do you have a favorite yoga pose?

ESTELLE:
Yes, my favorite yoga pose is tree. It’s fun to stand up and put your foot on your knee.

Q: How do you feel after a yoga class?

ESTELLE:
I feel relaxed.

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Q: What else do you like to do besides yoga?

ESTELLE:
I like to swim, walk my dog, and go on hikes.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

ESTELLE:
I want to be a veterinarian and help animals feel better.

Want to get involved? Consider donating to Club 21 and learn about other ways to get involved on their website. You can also hear more from Audrey about how we can all work together to promote and teach acceptance.

20 Comments

  • Reply Kris January 3, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    Thank you! It is uplifting and inspiring to see these young gals featured in your magazine and website! Thank you for not conforming to what our society perceives as “beautiful ” or “perfect”! As a mom of a little girl with DS, you have inspired and touched my heart.

    I was not an Athelta follower, but I will be now! Companies that actually do something good are hard to find these days!

    • Reply Ali Shea January 23, 2017 at 4:15 am

      This is wonderful!!! We would love to collaborate with Athleta.

  • Reply Steve Dolcemaschio January 4, 2017 at 1:10 am

    Wonderful work! Way to go!

  • Reply Noelle January 4, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Yay Estelle! What a little bright shining star you are!

  • Reply Barbara Gumbko January 4, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    This story and information video is about my Amazing Daughter Audrey and my very special granddaughter., Estelle. It is so important that more information on Down Syndrome be shared with the public. So little is known of the condition by most of us until it is present in our family. Club 21 in Pasadena Ca is a good resource center for parents, siblings, and the children and young adults with Down Syndrome. If you have a need for Club 21, check it out. You will not be disappointed.

  • Reply Michelle Gumbko January 4, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Love this – thank you for sharing this. As an aunt of a little girl with Down syndrome, I am proud to see this inspiring work. Thank you!

  • Reply Avery January 4, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    Creative, compassionate women clearly can do anything. THis is proof.. Estelle sparkles, Audrey inspires and the yoga instuctors open doors to joy. I love this story. So well done.

  • Reply Gisela Roufs January 4, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Thank you Athleta for shining a light on such a practical and inspirational integration of yoga into a beautiful community with precious spirits!

  • Reply Trisha Pergande January 5, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Amazing story! Thank you for featuring these beautiful powerful women and community visionaries!

  • Reply Jennifer Kendall January 5, 2017 at 7:47 am

    This is so inspiring! I love seeing this and what a beautiful way to educate people and create better awareness.. The world needs more companies like this to embrace these topics so that society moves in a direction that is better informed, open, and accepting of all us. Would love to see more of things like this…

  • Reply Jennifer January 5, 2017 at 10:03 am

    It is so refreshing to see a big name company do a feature on Club 21. Club 21 is an amazing organization, helping families who have children with Down Syndrome to find their way in this big world. I love that Estelle and her friends have come to realize how beneficial yoga is–for EVERYONE! It’s great to see how yoga benefits not just typical people, but ALL people! Way to go, Athleta AND Club 21!! This just makes me want to shop at Athleta even more!

  • Reply Amanda Hsu January 5, 2017 at 11:54 am

    This is so wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Bunny January 5, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Oh my goodness. This made me feel so inspired. The women are amazing and Estelle is such an impressive young woman.

  • Reply Sharon Hanson January 5, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    What an amazing story! Audrey and Estelle — You both continue to inspire me on a daily basis. Kimi and Mel — thank you for the service you provide to Club 21. I’m sure it’s a making a big difference in these children’s lives.

  • Reply Emily January 6, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Athleta is such a great company! They continue to impress me over and over again. This story is so inspirational and as a yoga teacher it inspires me to bring the power of yoga to more people everyday. I have seen yoga change the lives of so many people no matter their struggle. We all have something that creates struggle in our lives whether it’s depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, physical ailments, illness, PTSD, this list goes on and on. These sweet children are no different. I continuously hear and preach that yoga is for EVERYONE and this shows that truth. Yoga is not about beautiful people doing beautiful poses and posting them on instagram. Yoga is about connecting and finding that beautiful light that shines in every single one of us. Estelle is right, yoga makes us feel good about ourselves because it shows us the beauty we each hold inside ourselves. Thank you Athleta for sharing this inspirational story, and for bringing awareness to programs like Club 21. These kids and their teachers are amazing!

  • Reply Heather Mazotas January 6, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Excellent! Thank you to Athleta and to Club 21 for providing awareness regarding Down syndrome and how amazing these kiddos are! We have a son with Ds (7 years old) and we are so grateful for companies and individuals who are spreading awareness! Thank you and please continue the great work!!

  • Reply Nancy K Norris January 7, 2017 at 9:58 am

    I am so proud of you, Audrey and Estelle for your tenacity and perseverance, your love for life and the joy you bring to each of our lives. We are grateful to know you all. This is a beautiful piece about yoga, hope and a grater community. Thank you Athleta for paying attention and taking a moment to honor our children with Down syndrome. Club 21 is a remarkable place and has empowered and supported hundreds of children and families. I am deeply honored to have been a small part of this amazing organization. I LOVE Athleta and only buy my active wear from your company. They have clothes that fit all types of women and bodies. Thank you so much for taking the time and excellence to produce such an inspiring piece.

  • Reply Linda, Tom & William January 7, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Audrey and Estelle – we are so proud of you! How inspiring. WOW!

  • Reply Jona January 13, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Hola! I’ve been reading your site for a while now and finally got the bravery to
    go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Texas!
    Just wanted to tell you keep up the good work!

  • Reply Holly January 18, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Amazing! This story has truly touched my heart. I love yoga and practice as much as I can – and when my daughter was born last year with Down Syndrome – yoga helped me get through all of the emotions. I have been dreaming about doing yoga with my daughter and when I saw this video – it made my heart melt knowing it could be a reality. Estelle and all of the children are just precious and I am so grateful to Athleta for sharing their story. This is so inspiring – thank you!!

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