Karma Yoga helps support Main Street Project

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Susan Burko is a Winnipeg woman who raises funds for Main Street Project by teaching yoga classes amid the beautiful backdrop of Kildonan Park.

She has taught the classes for two years near the park’s pavilion. They run on Saturday mornings.

After retiring from teaching 11 years ago, Burko began taking yoga classes at The Wellness Institute. She soon gravitated toward Iyengar yoga, a style that matched her desire for precision and inclusiveness for people with different fitness and mobility levels.

Susan Burko is continuing a family tradition of raising funds for Main Street Project with her Karma Yoga classes. Her mother Bernice made blankets (including the one pictured here)for the local support centre before her passing in 2020.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and fitness facilities were closed. Once it was deemed safe to meet outdoors, Burko had an idea.

“In the summer of 2020, we could meet outdoors, socially distanced,” Burko said. “I had little markers for where everybody could put their mats. It was great being outdoors, so we decided we’d meet at Kildonan Park.”

Burko called the classes Karma Yoga. In exchange for a $5 donation to Main Street Project, attendees enjoy a relaxing session in a beautiful setting. That combination attracted Jean and George Koch, two Karma Yoga devotees who nominated Burko as a Local Hero.

“Kildonan Park is a very colourful park full of scents, beautiful scenery and wildlife in an urban setting,” the Kochs said in their submission. “We meet for her yoga class at the site of some of the province’s tallest and oldest trees. It is a wonderful way to connect with you during yoga by practicing mountain pose, downward-facing dog, bridge pose, and timed balancing-on-one-foot pose. The park and Susan are real gems within the city!”

Through Burko’s efforts, thousands of water bottles and more than 2,500 feminine hygiene products have been provided to Main Street Project. She has also collected cash to help renovate the former Mitchell’s Fabrics building, now used by the charity.

Burko chose Main Street Project to continue the relationship first established by her mother, Bernice. When she was 88, Bernice, limited in her physical ability, decided she wanted to help others. She chose Main Street Project for several reasons, including their support of women in need.

“She also liked that Main Street Project had more services for women,” Burko said. “She felt that women needed the support. As invisible as the homeless are to the population, the female homeless population is much more invisible.”

Susan Burko demonstrates a pose she teaches in her Saturday morning yoga classes at Kildonan Park. The program is called Karma Yoga, and she teaches Iyengar yoga, which she finds the most inclusive style.

After hearing of a group called Blanketing Manitoba, Bernice began making eight-inch squares that were joined together so others could make blankets. Her ambitions soon grew, with Bernice producing 35 blankets that were donated to Main Street Project before her passing in January 2020. Susan and some family members have continued the family business, making seven more blankets that will be donated to Main Street Project this fall.

Karma Yoga classes continue on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. near the pavilion in Kildonan Park.

“With the correct props, we can reach everybody,” Burko said. “We can accommodate people who are much less mobile or who have acute physical problems safely and strategically.”

If you would like to nominate someone for your community to be recognized as a Local Hero, you can do so by emailing news@canstarnews.com

Tony Zerucha

Tony Zerucha
East Kildonan community correspondent

Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

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