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The Suburbanite
  • Yoga studio rocks for good cause

  • Manchester resident Emily Fatkins’ apparition is manifold. First, she aspires to practice yoga in its earliest form, with a focus on community service and helping others. After spending two weeks doing service in Zimbabwe earlier this year, she recognized the need for helping poverty-stricken communities.

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  • The woman behind Embrace Your Essence Yoga has a vision for her yoga practice, her community and far beyond.
    Manchester resident Emily Fatkins’ apparition is manifold. First, she aspires to practice yoga in its earliest form, with a focus on community service and helping others. After spending two weeks doing service in Zimbabwe earlier this year, she recognized the need for helping poverty-stricken communities.
    “When I was in Africa, I thought, they have nothing compared to what a Western society would say is a value, but really, in essence, they’re free,” Fatkins, the owner, founder and sole instructor at Embrace Your Essence, said. “Think about here in the states, you’re tied to a mortgage, a car, maybe a marriage. I didn’t want them to feel constrained and held back by their lifestyle.”
    That experience combined with Fatkins’ extensive background in yogic training helped her to develop Project I Am Free, a benefit concert series to be held on the third Saturday of each month during the summer at her Portage Lakes Drive studio. Fatkins hosted the first event May 18, with From Borealis, an Akron-based instrumental trio performing.
     The concert series will feature live music, dinner and raffles with the proceeds going to the orphanage she visited in Zimbabwe. Fatkins hopes to raise funds for Voice of Peace, a nonprofit organization that she worked with there. The goal is to assist in providing basic care needs such as food, soap, toothpaste and school supplies, according to Fatkins.
    ARTISTIC ROOTS
     Fatkins said that many people are disconnected from the true principles of basic yoga practice, and forget that a big part of the tradition lies in giving back to the community and those in need.
     “What I’m trying to do is go back to the roots and look at what yoga is supposed to do – maintain health and energy,” Fatkins said. “Giving to other people through an open heart and gratitude is important to your energy and your overall connection to the community and other people.”
     Julie Norman, Project I Am Free volunteer and founder of Body Karma Healing, said that service work is an essential part of yogic practice and the study relies on three aspects – mind, body and spirit.
     “Yoga tends to the whole person,” Norman said. “It’s working with the nature of the mind and the physical body. It’s working with energy and emotion and finding balance in all those things so that we’re as harmonious as possible.”
     Fatkins and Norman also want to bring their communities together in a way that excludes going out to bars and drinking, a common activity among summer Portage Lakers.
     “I feel we need more stuff like this in our community to really infuse this idea of
    Page 2 of 2 - artistic expression and to express these creative outlets,” Fatkins said.
     The concert series will feature four local bands, plus Fatkins on the acoustic guitar, and exhibitions from various artists in the community. Many local businesses, including Adrianne Nichol Snyder, The Market Path, Massage & Yoga Healing Arts, Brunty Farms, Pure Delite Cupcakes, K & S Greenhouse, EarthFare Fairlawn, Dominos Pizza Portage Lakes, Figaro Farms, Jamies Bridal Blooms, EarthHearts Etsy Shop and Ecco Lights have offered up sponsorships for the events.
     “Emily is doing a wonderful thing by offering entertainment in ways for the community to connect without self-harming,” Norman said. “It’s a place for people to come together and enjoy music, art and nourishing food.”
    Ashleigh Carrigan is one of the artists who will feature original art at the series. She and Fatkins study art therapy in a master’s program at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio.
     “It’s nice to put the artwork out there and be able to have this gallery support this fundraiser, it’s a nice cause and it’s a great way to support art therapy and counseling as well as the fundraiser that Emily has started for these children,” Carrigan said. Art therapy, according to the artist, relies heavily on meditation and relaxing and shares many of those basic principles with yoga.
     At the end of the day, Fatkins hopes to have raised a significant amount of money for the children in Africa.
     “We all understand what extreme poverty is – we see pictures on TV, but it’s different when you’re actually immersed and its all around you,” Fatkins said. “These children are so full of life, so vivacious and energetic. They’re starving, yet they’re able to keep their spirits up,” Fatkins said.
     The concert series will be held on June 15, July 20 and Aug. 17 from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets to each event are $20 in advance, with raffle tickets included. To purchase tickets or for more information, e-mail Emily at lovepeaceyoga@yahoo.com, call 330-328-7219 or visit www.embraceyouressenceyoga.com. All events will be held at Fatkins’ studio, located at 499 B Portage Lakes Dr. in Coventry.