What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?
The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”
Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.
― Hafiz, I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy
I first heard this poem years ago when my yoga teacher read it before class and again before shivasana. I was moved by its simple yet profound message then, and am moved by it still, whenever I come across it.
Clearly if these words move me so much, I must be the person who still thinks, “I have a thousand serious moves.” Even writing this, I have a rueful smile on my lips.
A regular yoga practice allows us to cultivate becoming expert observers of our minds; the patterns of thought we are mired in, the meanings we ascribe to circumstances, the beliefs we grip tenaciously. Through the consistency of returning to our mats, and “being in” our bodies, it becomes simpler to recognize we are persons with thoughts but we are not our thoughts, thus creating more space for “tripping over joy.”
We may take our yoga practice somewhat seriously, but we don’t necessarily need to take ourselves so seriously.
Joan R. Shepherd, FNP
PYR Board of Directors
Project Yoga Richmond offers Y12SR, classes that combine yoga with 12-step recovery programs, as well as the latest research on trauma healing and neurobiology.
I have worked in the field of addiction medicine for a long time. Over the years, as I have grown in my knowledge of this field, I have also grown in my knowledge of yoga.
Depending on where my patients—who mostly find our clinic to detox off opioids, heroin, methadone, or alcohol—are in their stage of change, I offer yoga as an integral tool.
I have to be a little savvy about bringing up yoga. While it has clearly infiltrated western culture, many of the people with whom I work have ideas about yoga and do not see themselves wearing spandex and inhabiting a rubber mat for an hour.
But, I offer a nibble.
I introduce, for instance, the idea of becoming a witness to one’s experience or taking the risk of staying present for momentary discomfort. Or noticing the relentless and repetitive messages that appear on the movie screen of the mind, noticing the habitual reactions that accompany these messages, and the fierce impulse to escape the pain.
This is indeed the practice of yoga. As the 2nd Sutra of Patanjali states, “Yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind.” Or, in Sanskrit, “Yogas citta vrtti nirodha.”
Addiction has a lot to do with avoiding discomfort. Guiding a person to be at home with their own thoughts, physical sensations, and feelings is an imperative step for any successful recovery. A regular practice of yoga postures helps people bring presence to TEAMS (thoughts, emotions, associations, memories, and sensations) while staying rooted in the reality of intentional movements.
Project Yoga Richmond offers Y12SR, classes that combine yoga with 12-step recovery programs, as well as the latest research on trauma healing and neurobiology. This program serves people recovering from all manifestations of addiction, from behavioral addictions to substance abuse, and creates a safe place on the mat. Family members of people with addictions are also welcome. Teachers of this program receive certification to teach after completing proper training.
This aspect of programming for people with behavioral and substance use disorders is how I first became aware of PYR’s presence in Richmond. I have recommended it to my patients for years.
If you or a loved one is looking for another tool for your recovery toolbox, I heartily endorse the powerful programming offered at Project Yoga Richmond. The staff or any of the Board Members would be more than happy to answer your questions. Spandex not required.
Joan R. Shepherd, FNP
PYR Board of Directors
Do you ever wonder how non-profits work? We have to admit, one of the primary factors that keep our organization and community thriving is the hard work and dedication of our volunteers.
Our volunteers pour their hearts, talents, and time into making the benefits of yoga accessible. Without volunteers, we can honestly say that Project Yoga Richmond would not be where it is today. We are thrilled to see that Richmond Magazine values the impact volunteers are making across the Greater Richmond region, and in particular honoring one of PYR’s very own beloved volunteers, Sara Anderson.
Sara has been supporting PYR as a volunteer for over four years. You can most likely find her during the summertime in the early mornings greeting the community at Saturday Salutations at the VMFA to help us unroll mats across RVA.
Be sure to check out this special Richmond Magazine feature about Sara and the volunteers across RVA that keep our community thriving!
Become a Volunteer
This sneak-peek into our monthly Freedom Yoga: Yoga for Special Needs demonstrates the ways yoga develops a positive sense of self and builds confidence in students. Unroll your mat with us the second Saturday of every month at 12:30pm at PYR’s studio for Freedom Yoga to be a part of this impactful class and/or make a donation online today to support the benefits of our programs!
6 Benefits of Yoga for Children with Autism according to Autism Parenting Magazine:
- Increased Social-Communication Skills
- Awareness and Expression of Emotions
- Reduced Anxiety
- Reduction in Challenging Behaviors
- Increased Body Awareness
- Positive Sense of Self
Bring these benefits to your community by practicing for Freedom Yoga on Saturday to support yoga for everyone in your community!
Support Yoga for Special Needs
Thank you to all who have supported us by sharing your time, practice, talents, and donations to make 2017 an impactful year at Project Yoga Richmond! We are blown away by the impact you have made and hope you take some time to pause and celebrate the great things you supported in 2017. Enjoy this reflection of our 15 highlights of 2017! Keep the goodness going by making a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year so we can keep the goodness going in 2018!
1. Provided over 21,200 yoga experiences so far in 2017!
2. Voted Richmond Magazine’s Best Yoga Studio in RVA!!
3. Unrolled 2,432 mats on the VMFA deck during Saturday Salutations to support our community yoga and mindfulness programs!
Photo: Chad Williams of Creative Visual Designs
4. Celebrated 7 years of making yoga accessible across the Greater Richmond Region!
- Our first community partnership program was at Brook Road Academy in 2011, today kicked off our 7th year of our yoga and mindfulness program there!
5. Started 3 new community programs for Children and Youth this Summer
- SwimRVA with youth from Peter Paul Development Center
- Robinson Theater Community Arts Center in the East End
- Higher Achievement at Binford Middle School
6. Brought back the Yogathon for #GivingTuesday & surpassed our goal, supporting 12 community programs!
- 160 people unrolled their mats and donated to support 12 Yoga and Mindfulness Programs for one quarter
- Our students from Brook Road Academy unrolled their mats at our studio during our Yogathon!
7. Started a new program for Adults with Special Needs in partnership with the Special Olympics
- Partnered with Special Olympic Virginia SO FIT 8-week summer program, which consists of fitness training and nutritional workshops to learn healthy eating habits, PYR is offering yoga to help develop mind-body awareness and connection.
8. Worked with local artists to enhance our community space:
9. PYR hosted leaders in the yoga community for workshops at our studio
- Nikki Myers, founder of Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery)
- Melody Moore, founder of Embody Love Movement.
- Dr. Ariele Foster of Yoga Anatomy Academy for 2 yoga and anatomy workshops
- Hari Kirtana Das, author, speaker, yoga teacher, led a yoga philosophy and yoga nidra workshop.
10. Provided 25 reoccurring community yoga and mindfulness partnership programs across the Greater Richmond region!
11. Piloted a yoga and mindfulness program at Chesterfield County Jail
- Offering Yoga of 12 Step Recovery (Y12SR) for participants of The Bridge program at Chesterfield County Jail to support recovery and personal development.
12. Expanded our partnership with NextUp and offered yoga + mindfulness at Lucille Brown and Boushall Middle Schools this fall
13. Started a Trauma-Informed Yoga pilot program in November, offering therapeutic yoga to adults at Crisis Stabilization Unit at RBHA
14. New Class of the Year: Gong Meditation & Yoga Nidra every Monday at 7pm with Stacy Abbott
15. Moved Acro Yoga 101 to the VMFA Sculpture Garden during the warmer months! (You can still jam with us the second Sunday of every month at our studio at 2pm!)
Thank you for your support! We can’t wait to see the impact you make in 2018!
Tis’ the season for reflection and gratitude. Will you reflect with me for a moment?
Did you know that Project Yoga Richmond is on track to provide over 20,000 unique yoga experiences in 2017? Did you know that PYR partners with 10 organizations to provide yoga and mindfulness programs to children and youth across the Greater Richmond region? Did you know that PYR has served 4,893 children and youth so far this year?
These might just seem like numbers, but each number represents an individual who has felt the enormous impact of Project Yoga Richmond this year. I am one of those numbers. You can increase these numbers and impact the lives they represent, like mine, by making a gift today.
I know first-hand the benefits that PYR can provide to children and youth, and in this season of giving, I want to share with you how grateful I am for Project Yoga Richmond and the impact it has had on my life.
I have been challenged with brain development issues since birth. I have a formal diagnosis of Dyslexia and I’ve had a dozen major surgical procedures. These are just a few obstacles that have come my way.
I was in the sixth grade when I took my first yoga class at Brook Road Academy at St. Joseph’s Villa. I remember those Friday afternoon classes with Liz being playful and upbeat, but also opportunities for me to slow down and connect my body, brain, and breath.
Practicing Yoga with PYR gives me time and space to pause.
Your donation will make it possible for more young people like me to discover the benefits of yoga.
On the mat in those early years, I was admittedly a little loud and excitable, often falling out of poses, trying to fold myself into a pretzel, and attempting to leap into crow pose from plank. The teachers from PYR, as well my goofy classmates, were always supportive, forgiving, and patient. They put a smile on my face and made me feel welcome to be myself.
Everyone deserves to feel as supported and welcome to be themselves as I do when I practice, and Project Yoga Richmond does that as they make yoga accessible and affordable to all regardless of physical or financial ability.
When you make a gift to Project Yoga Richmond, you make yoga and mindfulness programs across the Greater Richmond region possible, including Yoga for ESOL Students, Yoga for Special Needs, Yoga for Recovery, and Yoga for Juvenile Justice, and more.
Now, as a senior, my mindset has shifted a bit. The guidance of Javonne, our current Project Yoga teacher, continues to be therapeutic and calming. I appreciate the softer qualities of my practice. I enjoy meditation and setting intentions and the stress release that regular practice brings. What I love most though is the way I feel afterwards—well rested in a way that only pausing in time and space among friends can offer.
Will you join me in giving back to Project Yoga Richmond by making a gift that impacts lives like mine?
Brook Road Academy Student
Project Yoga Richmond Programs Student