What was the inspiration (call to action) to create OG Yoga?

A MESSAGE FROM JOANN 

Why did I decide to do this work? 

I was working in social services and noticed that there were lots of good programs yet none of them had a personal transformation teaching that would support success over the long-term: tools to use in times of suffering and tools to use in times of pleasure. I learned through experience that yoga was handed down over 5,000 years ago in response to human suffering. I became passionate and then obsessed with bringing this practice to those in our community most in need. I wanted to create a non-profit project specializing in yoga for people who may benefit greatly from its practice but know nothing about yoga, are suspicious of yoga, or have no way to access yoga instruction either because of its accessibility or expense or their lack of freedom. For people facing daunting challenges in their lives. They may be incarcerated, homeless, on probation, living in a foster home, dealing with mental illness, battling a serious disease, or recovering from a traumatic injury. To bring a gentle step-by-step practice to those facing unimaginable stress which is taking a toll on their physical, mental and emotional health. I was personally touched by watching the face of homelessness, violence, substance abuse and incarceration grow to epic levels – and sensing that the root of the problem is TRAUMA. If programs are not working to fix the trauma they are not working on the right thing. We need to fix the hole in the soul as Oprah Winfrey states!

With my previous corporate MBA experience in business followed by my experience in working in the field helping our broken find housing, jobs and supportive services combined with my own personal healing through yoga I saw a need.

What if I started a non-profit project, with the mission to deliver trauma informed mindfulness based yoga through partnerships with non-profit organizations and correctional facilities serving marginalized individuals to support healing, resilience, self-development and positive social change?

What if we recruited, vetted and compensated experienced yoga instructors who embody compassion, patience and tolerance and trained them to deliver a trauma and mindfulness informed practice with the goal of empowering those who have experienced trauma to reconnect with their bodies- their Original Greatness- their OG? Their special gifts and talents that they have been experienced and habituated away from.

As a matter of fact- aren’t the Buddha and BKS Iyengar original OG’s of yoga? Bringing the best personal transformational system, resulting in peace and joy, to the masses- to everyone who hoped for a better life even when it was not politically correct? Going against the stream of politics, status and wealth to make a healing system available to all regardless of skin color, religious believe, income level and political leanings?

All roads led me to start OG Yoga- my education, my experience and my healing. My need to stop being a spectator in silently watching homelessness, violence, substance abuse and incarceration rise and rise and rise.

What if by partnering with the systems serving at-risk individuals we could improve program graduation outcomes and reduce recidivism back into the systems. What if we could teach in a compassionate and invitational way the tools to self-regulate and self-love?

This is why I am obsessed.

OG Yoga is working and they want more of it!

How did I get started on my yoga journey?

In my many decades on this planet I dabbled with yoga during all my travels with exercise: jogging, spinning, body building, pilates, etc. I found yoga to be the hardest of all. In 1996 my world fell apart: divorce and cancer. I wanted to live. I chose yoga. I was lucky enough to train under masters dedicated to a slower, inward journey utilizing meditation and mindfulness. I healed at every level: physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. I became a peaceful warrior dedicated to sharing what I learned with anyone who wanted to listen and learn.

What yoga has taught me about myself and life?

We are all sentient beings- we are here for a limited time to learn our lessons and gracefully adapt to change. I can through meditation, mindfulness and yoga practice continue a process of self-awareness and self-inquiry to learn who I am, why I get triggered and how I can respond instead of react. Yoga taught me to create space in my physical body for new aspirations. I choose unconditional love, profound listening, holding space for others in theirjourney to heal, detach from outcomes and forgive myself. This is a daily practice.

Plans for the future - What's next?

While OG Yoga’s growth has been steady and exciting, the future is even more

exciting. We are launching a new initiative – the Service Yoga Teacher Training

School (SYTTS) – which will give yogis the knowledge, tools, and experience they

need to effectively work with at-risk populations, including:

1) creating a safe, comfortable and non-threatening environment;

2) minimizing triggers;

3) modifying yoga poses; and

4) using invitational language to engage and connect with students

All contribute to empowering students and helping them to reconnect with their

bodies, their self-confidence, and their hope for a better future.

OG Yoga's goals also include:

• Introduce people of all ages to the practice of yoga, its history and potential

benefits;

• Engage men, women and children in the practice of yoga to reduce stress and

increase resilience;

• Provide positive role models to those who have had few in their personal lives;

• Improve the physical, emotional and mental health of at-risk individuals so that

they are better able to deal with the challenges they face every day;

• Advocate for the use of trauma-informed and mindfulness-based yoga;

• Educate the public about the value of yoga as a stress-reducing health-

improving practice.

How can someone get involved with OG Yoga?

Come to one of our lululemon hosted yoga events, attend our School, follow us on social media, tell your friends about us, donate whatever gift you can today, Festival of Yoga on June 24th and Pay It Forward for one of our students who cannot even attend a free day of yoga due to resources and freedom.   Namaste- JoAnn

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