A Message from Our Outreach Director
As a founding director of the Yoga Seed Collective, I was excited to move into the role of directing the outreach program. The classes we offer out in the community bring yoga and mindfulness to underserved and at-risk populations who do not have the ability to come to the studio for one reason or another.
Each program is customized to meet the needs of those served with a focus on recovering from trauma through yoga and mindfulness. Our outreach program extends to:
- prison inmates
- at-risk teens
- diabetes education groups
- psychiatry inpatients
- recovery centers
- homeless youth
- domestic violence survivors
- developmentally disabled
- chair yoga for elderly
- service projects and more…
In outreach “what you teach”, is just as important as “how you teach”. A strong understanding around trauma and trauma informed approaches is essential, everyone’s experience of trauma is different, but the triggers that bring individuals into the fight, flight or freeze state have some commonalities that can be avoided. It is our hope that yoga studios will also start to adopt this trauma sensitive approach.
In addition, our outreach programming is sensitive to micro-aggressions and systems of oppression. We strive to be an ally to those we serve, remaining mindful of how they self-identify and the systematic challenges they face. We use language that accepts and validates the individual and provides opportunities to demonstration agency. When there is grievance or outbursts in outreach classes, we use Nonviolent Crisis Intervention (NCI) and Restorative Circles to bring the group back to wholeness.
Overall, Yoga Seed Outreach programs offer evidence-based practices with measurable results, and incorporate insights from the allied fields of education, psychology and conflict resolution. To do so we have aligned with expert advisers who contribute to curriculum design and provide quarterly professional development seminars to our teachers and staff.
This kind of unique programming requires additional training for teachers, so they can effectively teach trauma-informed and condition-specific classes. As a result, The Yoga Seed introduced our 300-hour yoga teacher training to train yoga teachers in trauma-informed and condition-specific approaches in 2016. This specialized teacher training includes experts from the fields of Yoga Therapy, trauma counseling, conflict resolution, social justice, Ayurveda, and more.
Leading the prison outreach effort has hugely affected my life. Serving a population that has such diminished freedom creates an obvious division between those with freedom and those without. As an ally, I’m mindful of my speech and action; and focus on promoting our innate and common human dignity. Regardless of past maladaptive behavior, all of us have access to our brightest light, our fullest potential, explored fully through service to others.
We are committed to our outreach efforts and community partners. When you attend studio classes, volunteer, or support fundraising, you help to fulfill our vision and heal YOUR community.
As Mahatma Gandhi so directly stated, “You MUST be the change that you wish to see in the world.”