Current PYR Outreach Programs

The following are community programs currently supported by Project Yoga Richmond. The instructor/facilitator for each program, compensated for teaching time due to the generous support of our PYR community through donations and in-studio class attendance, has kindly shared a few insights so that we might catch a glimpse.
Project Yoga Richmond’s community outreach has developed over the course of our evolution and is offered on a one-time, seasonal, or recurring basis to many different individuals and groups in the area.
These classes provide all of the same physical, mental, and spiritual benefits as our studio classes, but are tailored to effectively serve each student regardless of ability. For all program requests, a completed application is required. We review applications on an ongoing basis and evaluate all new and existing programs based on potential community impact as well as funding availability. Our costs include mats and other supplies, as well as teacher reimbursement. We request 30-90 days to review every application. If you are a member or director of an organization seeking the benefits of yoga instruction, please fill out our request application. Program Request application.
The Founders Center of Commonwealth Autism

POPULATION SERVED: Youth with Autism NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 180 OFFERED SINCE: October 2012; weekly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Sara Lovelace

Beyond sound, beyond race or age or disability, yoga offers a language we can all speak. For me, that unique conversation is experienced on a weekly basis at the Founders Center. ~ Sara Lovelace, PYR Ambassador

Y12SR (the Yoga of 12 Step Recovery)

POPULATION SERVED: Y12SR is for anyone dealing with their own maladaptive or addictive behaviors or affected by those behaviors in others. NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 335 OFFERED SINCE: 2012; weekly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: VARIES

This class is the best! What a great idea to combine an “A” meeting with yoga… So comfortable to go and learn so much… I love it! ~ Y12SR Participant

Marywood Senior Apartments

POPULATION SERVED:Seniors residents with limited income NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 260 PROGRAM STARTED: May 2012; weekly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Sarah Humphries

This particular site started as a residence for Russian seniors. One of the first things I noticed was that all of my students, regardless of nationality, began to look out for each other. They took interest in what was going on with their fellow yogis, despite nationality. I have called it my mini-UN because the population is so diverse! ~ Sarah Humphries, PYR Ambassador

Senior Center EAST at Peter Paul Development Center

POPULATION SERVED:Low-income senior residents of Church Hill NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 1004 PROGRAM STARTED: April 2015; weekly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Twylah Ekko

Members (of Senior Center EAST) are from a low income disadvantaged community with many sources of stress from within the home as well as outside. The constant challenges they face are an impediment to good health and wellness. Several members have told me that they really notice more looseness in their joints and a feeling of improved well being since starting to yoga. Twylah brings such grace and peace along with a very calm presence. We feel so grateful to have this experience and Twylah as our instructor. ~ Elnora Allen, Coordinator, Senior Center EAST

Brook Road Academy at St Joseph’s Villa

POPULATION SERVED: Teens with special educational needs NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 250 PROGRAM STARTED: March 2011; weekly program during school year PYR INSTRUCTOR: Becky Eschenroeder

Blessed to have had my child at Brook Road Academy. She has grown and changed so much in the 5 years that she has attended. I have such gratitude for this program and how it has helped her. ~ Parent of a Brook Road Academy student

Thomas Jefferson High School

POPULATION SERVED: Teens NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 100 PROGRAM STARTED: October 2013; weekly program during school year PYR INSTRUCTOR: Becky Eschenroeder

As the students start to unlock their bodies, feel into the muscles, ligaments, and the poses that their bodies create, they connect to themselves. It’s my hope that the connection and space that they find leads them to more compassion for themselves and others. ~Becky Eschenroeder, PYR Ambassador

Crisis Stabilization Services Unit at St Joseph’s Villa

POPULATION SERVED: Youth with mental health concerns and trauma NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 215 PROGRAM STARTED: October 2014; weekly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Carolyn Keller

At first the energy was very low … after a brief introduction and asking what they wish to accomplish by practicing yoga today, we got started. The end of class everyone was feeling very relaxed, at peace, and confident within themselves, opening their hearts and feeling supported by the earth. Peace, it is there for everyone. ~ Carolyn Keller, PYR Ambassador

Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts

POPULATION SERVED: Youth NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 170 PROGRAM STARTED: November 2014; weekly program during school year (Nov-Mar) PYR INSTRUCTOR: Jonathan Miles

I think yoga is movement, is meditation, also peace in mind. ~ Patrick Henry School student

Better Housing Coalition at Lincoln Mews

POPULATION SERVED: Youth and Teens in mixed-income apartment community NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 140 PROGRAM STARTED: Fall 2014; weekly program during school year PYR INSTRUCTOR: Michele Nierle

Sometimes before class the kind and patient social worker informs me, “They really need yoga today,” which informs me that the dynamics are high for some in the group. I wonder how I will be of help, forgetting initially that it’s not about what I do, it’s about what yoga does. We start our practice together, move through distractions, redirection, laughter and frustrations. By the end of a class, students are eager to finally let go and rest in the quiet of savasana, the final pose. Somehow, the dynamics have shifted, and, once again, I am an awestruck witness to the power of yoga. ~ Michele Nierle, PYR Ambassador

Falling Creek Middle School – ESOL Program

POPULATION SERVED: ESOL Newcomers, most have been in the country less than a year NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 150 PROGRAM STARTED: April 2015; weekly program during school year PYR INSTRUCTOR: Jennie Choi

Many of our students are newly-arrived immigrants and refugees from Central and South America and Mexico whose backgrounds include poverty, trauma, and family separations. We think yoga practice will be a fun way to help ease their transition to school and life in the U.S. as they face the challenges of living in a new country, learning a new language, and reuniting with family members. ~ Carolyn Waters, ESOL teacher, Falling Creek Middle School

Freedom Yoga

POPULATION SERVED: Adults with Special Needs and their families NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 100 PROGRAM STARTED: Spring 2013; monthly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Becky Eschenroeder

I asked Sasa how she felt; what she thought of the class. She looked at me, she looked away and thought, and then she looked at me again. “Freedom,” she so eloquently stated. ~ Becky Eschenroeder, PYR Ambassador

Aspree Adult Day Services

POPULATION SERVED: Adults with Developmental Disabilities NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 775 PROGRAM STARTED: Spring 2013; monthly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Sarah Humphries

Recently I had taken in some brightly colored yoga mats and had some of the folks join me on the floor for some simple asana. One of the men who had been unresponsive until that day took a chance to sit on the blue mat…and I saw a little glimmer in his eyes. As I was leaving that day, I hear my name very loudly…”SARAH!!” As I turned, I noticed it was him, with his arms wide open for a hug and a quiet “I love you.” ~ Sarah Humphries, PYR Ambassador

Dominion Waiver – Day Support Services

POPULATION SERVED: Adults with Developmental Disabilities NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 70 PROGRAM STARTED: May 2014; bimonthly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Karen Kalyani Levitt

Our individuals absolutely love yoga and it is wonderful to have other organizations and services that are accepting of their uniqueness. ~ Site Coordinator
Transitions Day Support Services

POPULATION SERVED: Adults with Developmental Disabilities NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 70 PROGRAM STARTED: Fall 2014; weekly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Natasha Freeman

This class truly is the highlight of my week. We ended the class last week by each sharing one thing, anything at all, that makes us happy. There was one student that didn’t say anything but when we were rolling up the mats, he came up and told me that yoga makes him happy! ~ Natasha Freeman, PYR Ambassador

Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center

POPULATION SERVED: Court-Involved Youth NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 260 PROGRAM STARTED: January 2013; weekly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Ashley Williams

Practicing with the residents at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center continues to be a humbling experience as I witness them meet their challenges on the mat. I am grateful for the opportunity to guide them to higher levels of self awareness, strength, balance, confidence, gratitude self love, and love for others. One of the best moments is witnessing the relaxation and release of tension that takes place during savasana—the energy in the room is magical and empowers me to keep serving. ~ Ashley Williams, PYR Ambassador


POPULATION SERVED: Survivors of sexual and domestic violence NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 83 PROGRAM STARTED: May-November 2015; weekly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Dana Walters and Randi Weiss

Safe Harbor

POPULATION SERVED: Direct support staff who are serving clients who have experience trauma NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: PROGRAM STARTED: September 2015; weekly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Evelyn Zak

This program recently began at the YWCA, located in downtown Richmond. Their motto is “Eliminating Racism; Empowering Women.” The specialized classes at YWCA are offered every Wednesday afternoon to women receiving services following domestic trauma. This program has been in the works since last Fall and began officially in May. Ambassadors Randi Weiss and Dana Walters bring a gentle, kind, skilled approach to the women in the program.   For more information on this yoga program, please visit the YWCA‘s website or email us.

This outreach class will actually be for the direct staff who work tirelessly serving members of the community who have experienced and/or witnessed significant trauma. Direct staff are especially at risk for compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and burn out. It’s the organization’s goal to be intentional and proactive to avoid said issues by implementing a yoga program into the work week.



I didn’t know much about Project Yoga Richmond when I joined an early-morning Saturday Salutations session at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts last spring. The setting was beautiful, the birds were singing, the community of yoga practitioners was huge, and the volunteers were fabulous. By the end of the hour, I felt peaceful and reenergized in spite of what had been a particularly stressful workweek. I teach English Language Learners at Falling Creek Middle School. Many of my students are dealing with multiple challenges of acculturation, poverty, complicated family situations, and past trauma on top of the usual middle school stuff. I wished they could have been at VMFA to share this experience. ~Carolyn Waters, Site Coordinator at Falling Creek Middle School and VMFA Practitioner

Robinson Theater

POPULATION SERVED: Church Hill Community NUMBERS SERVED ANNUALLY: 960 PROGRAM STARTED: January 2015; weekly program PYR INSTRUCTOR: Alec Abbott

I am so honored and blessed to lead this yoga practice and share the ancient tradition with anywhere from 15 to 35 yogis weekly. The energy is incredible and the people are so friendly that I feel welcomed every time I teach. The Robinson Theater is a great venue and wonderful old building, but the people that come make it truly special! ~ Alec Abbott, PYR Ambassador, RYT-200

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