Donna Barton Brothers opening hearts and minds at Maryhurst
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - For many people, yoga is a way to quiet a busy life and an active mind.
There's one yoga class in Louisville that aims to do that, but the teacher and the students might be unexpected.
The teacher is a woman you might recognize. Not on a mat -- but a horse. She's current NBC Racing Analyst and former jockey Donna Barton Brothers.
Her students don't know that though, because they don't get live television.
"Even if they knew what I did for a living, they would say, 'Ok, what kind of yoga would we do today?,'" Barton Brothers laughed.
They are girls at Maryhurst, who have suffered severe neglect and abuse. Most of them have been in five foster homes, or possibly other group homes or even youth detention before finding a place at Maryhurst. They are among the most traumatized young women in Kentucky.
It's a nomadic young life, one Barton Brothers recognized because she had a mother who was a jockey.
"I know how hard it was to go from one school to another," she told us. "So I couldn't imagine how hard it would be go to one school and a home, to an environment to another."
Barton Brothers never had children of her own, but feels a connection to these girls. One so strong she got her yoga teaching certificate just to do yoga with them every Tuesday night.
"I like yoga, it's a way to get the girls to tune everything out," she said.
We can't identify them because of their pasts, but we talked with them about what this class means.
"I feel like it helps me to relive some of my stress," one participant told us. "So much stress going on in day-to-day lives here, just living with a bunch of girls here."
"I did all of this official yoga teaching training, and our yoga has morphed into whatever the girls want to do," Barton Brothers said.
She told us sometimes they might just tell jokes. However, a connection is made.
"She's always nice to people, and has a great sense of humor," one young girl, who now wants to teach yoga when she gets older, told us.
Megan Armstrong is a Therapeutic Behavior Support Specialist who works at Maryhurst. She said it's wonderful for the girls to see strong female role models.
"She also gives them a safe space where they can just be quiet and relax," Armstrong said. "A lot of these kids haven't had quiet. They haven't had safe. So to come in here and lay down on their mat, and Donna is watching over them and protecting them, nothing is going to hurt them -- that does wonders for them."
For a woman who appreciates speed, it's the slow, quiet moments doing yoga at Maryhurst now filling her heart.
If you would like to help Maryhurst, the second-annual Raffle for the Roses is going on right now. It's an online raffle giving Derby fans the chance to experience the Kentucky Derby or the Kentucky Oaks like a celebrity, while helping children in crisis.
To enter, go to rafflefortheroses.com.
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