Do Something

Do Something

A letter on behalf of Sue Agee:

 “Do something. Just do something.”

-Dr. Maya Angelou

Join me today by making a gift to Project Yoga Richmond.

I may not be able to change the world by myself, but I can certainly start with myself, my family, and my community here in Richmond. Yoga and mindfulness practices provide a way to make a difference within myself and my community. You, too, can make a difference.

As a nurse, a yoga teacher, and a perpetual student of yoga, I have seen and experienced the impact the practice makes in my life and in so many others. It is called yoga “practice” to encourage applying the practice beyond the yoga mat and into your daily life. When applying the principles of yoga into your life, you truly see the gifts yoga offers.

Over the years, I have served in almost every role at Project Yoga Richmond: student, volunteer, ambassador, and board member. I have remained dedicated to PYR because I believe everyone deserves access to these timeless teachings of yoga. Project Yoga Richmond opens the door to everyone. We enable folks who would not be able to have a budget for Yoga and Mindfulness classes to have low cost or no cost yoga available to them. Join me in creating greater access to yoga by making a gift to Project Yoga Richmond today.

PYR Program for ESOL Students

We teach ancient and simple techniques to help ease stress, calm the mind, strengthen the body, increase flexibility, reclaim balance, and improve focus. Calming breathing techniques and guided movement remind us that we are capable of great kindness and have more to offer fellow humankind. You can offer kindness to yourself and your community by giving the gift of yoga today.

Project Yoga Richmond supports these benefits for all through our pay-what-you-can studio and community partnership programs across the Greater Richmond Region. PYR provides real tools for real practice to real lives. There are so many ways that you can help – donate, take a workshop, join an ongoing class, help support our work in the community, share your talents, ease your mind and body, feel the love.  Today I am asking you to consider making a gift to Project Yoga Richmond. With your help we can increase access to yoga for all. 

Be kind to yourself and kind to others. Do something, just do something.

Much love to you,
Sue Agee, RN, E-RYT500
PYR Ambassador, former Board Member, Yoga Teacher, and Volunteer

How Can Yoga Support Recovery?

What is Y12SR?

Y12SR (Yoga of 12-Step Recovery) “connects the dots” between the ancient wisdom of yoga, the practical tools of 12-step programs, and the latest research on trauma healing and neurobiology. As part of a holistic recovery program, it works in tandem with traditional treatment to address the physical, mental and spiritual disease of addiction.

The program serves people recovering from all manifestations of addiction, from behavioral addictions to substance abuse – creating a safe place on the mat where trauma can be released. It also supports those who are impacted by a loved one’s addiction. Weekly meetings led by certified Y12SR leaders are available in community settings across the United States. Y12SR is also offered as an adjunctive therapy in a growing number of addiction recovery treatment centers.

“The 12 Step program and Yoga connect us with ourselves, with others, with Spirit. The practices and principles of these two united paths return us to wholeness- and create community, purpose, joy, and freedom. This is the treasure offered to us in Y12SR.”

– PYR Cofounder and Y12SR Leadership Trainer, Dana Walters

3 Elements to Y12SR Classes:
  1. Open to anyone dealing with their own maladaptive behavior or affected by the maladaptive behavior of others.  This is an open and inclusive group.  “All A’s are welcome.”
  2. The 12-step based discussion/group sharing circle is followed by an intentional, themed meditations and/or breathwork and yoga practice.
  3. The asana practice offered is “yoga neutral”; these classes are always accessible for every body.  
PYR’s Y12SR Offerings:
  • Every Tuesday at 5:30pm at Project Yoga Richmond Studio
    • Open to the community, drop-in, and pay-what-you-can
  • Fridays at Chesterfield County Jail
    • Offered to residents enrolled in the Bridge program
    • The Bridge program operates as a collaboration of services between the Sheriff’s Office and Chesterfield Mental Health Support Services.  Bridge is a program for court-involved individuals in recovery; the program is strictly voluntary and not court-ordered.
    • The purpose of Bridge is to offer its participants a variety of dynamic programming to address and understand addiction and trauma and to facilitate sustainable, skill-based tools and techniques in breaking destructive habits and developing a sense of empowerment.

4 Ways Trauma Informed Yoga Supports Students

Yoga provides a supportive space to reconnect with the body, as a mind-body disconnect is often a result of traumatic experiences.  Yoga is grounding and allows practitioners a framework to practice making space from traumatic thoughts, all the while exposing folks to their present moment experience.

Trauma informed yoga empowers students with knowledge and choice. Here are 4 ways trauma-informed classes support students!

  1. Provides a lot of information about the function of each posture
  2. Language used during class is invitational and as inclusive as possible
  3. Many options are provided so that each practitioner can discover their edge appropriately, with the right amount of challenge and comfort
  4. Emphasizes the therapeutic aspects of asana
Everyone could benefit from a trauma-informed yoga class as it offers a welcoming and empowering space to explore the body, breath, mind, emotions!

4 Benefits of Yoga for Senior Citizens

In addition to the physical and mental benefits, yoga provides a sense of belonging and community. One of the populations where we have seen these benefits is when offer Yoga for Seniors. 

“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 at Marywood)

Project Yoga Richmond has offered Yoga for Seniors since 2012, and we currently offer programs at Marywood Senior Apartments with Sarah Humphries (PYR Ambassador) and Senior Center East at Peter Paul Development Center with Twylah Ekko (PYR Ambassador).

 

Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
  1. Sense of belonging and community
  2. Improvements in mobility, overall health, and emotional well-being
  3. Increased confidence, independence, agency, and creativity
  4. Increased mobility, strength, and balance
What are some elements of our Yoga for Seniors classes?
  • Similar sequences each week
  • Low impact, gentle movement using the support of the chair; balancing poses using the support of the chair (if needed);
  • Breathing techniques and meditation
  • Physical sequences are similar from week to week 
  • Senior Center EAST has a devotional at the end of class

Unroll your mat with us at our pay-what-you-can studio and Saturday Salutations at the VMFA on August 5 as we highlight Yoga for Seniors.Support our outreach programs by paying-what-you-can when you sign up for this event! And know that anytime you pay-what-you-can for class at our studio 7-days a week, you are supporting outreach like this!

If you would like to learn more about how to support Yoga for youth or to sponsor one of our outreach programs, you can make a donation by clicking here 365 days a year or contact holly@projectyogarichmond.org for more information!

4 Ways Yoga Supports Youth

Did you know that 50% of Project Yoga Richmond’s outreach programs work with children and youth? We are dedicated to serving youth for a number of reasons! Here are just a few of the many benefits yoga and mindfulness provide for youth in your community!

1. Promotes social-emotional learning

Social-emotional learning develops 5 core competencies in students: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Yoga and meditation foster these core competencies.

Through a yoga and meditation practice, students first learn to bring awareness to their breath and physical body. By focusing on this connection, student become more able to feel and experience what is happening within the mind and bodies, developing stronger self-awareness.

As self-awareness emerges, students become more able to manage their emotions. When a thought or experience that would have formerly elicited an impulse reaction, students become more able to approach the situation by connecting to the breath and recognizing the emotion before acting. In turn, students are able to make more responsible decisions as they become less reactive and approach situations with more clarity.

With a newfound self-awareness and self-management skills, students are able to recognize not only what is happening within them, but what is happening around them as well, demonstrating improved social awareness and developed relationship skills.

2. Improves self-esteem and body image

As students practice and become more connected to their breath and their body, they can become more accepting and demonstrate self-compassion in a safe environment rooted in non-judgement.

Testimonial from outreach student at Boushall Middle School

3. Improves focus and school performance

Yoga may reduce classroom disturbances and enhance cognitive performance.

4. Improves physical health

Yoga improves respiratory functions, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and reduces obesity risk factors

So, how do we teach our Yoga for Youth outreach programs?

Each one of our outreach programs is unique, depending on the population that we are working with and the Ambassador that is teaching. But, we do like to keep a few key elements in mind!

1. Engage students in a variety of accessible physical postures
  • The physical posture sequences progress from week to week to build trust, confidence, and competency, while inviting creativity and playful exploration

2. Introduce breathing exercises, relaxation, and visualization techniques
  • This helps students cope with and reduce stress, improve focus/concentration and self-regulation, and promote a general sense of health and emotional well-being

3. Incorporate reflection activities and partner or group sharing
  • Many of our yoga classes include philosophy, journaling to offer a space for inquiry and sharing of voice and enhance communication skills

Currently, over 50% of Project Yoga Richmond’s outreach programs serve children and youth, particularly youth in Title 1 schools where 51% of students eligible for free and reduced lunch in Richmond City and Chesterfield County. In 2016 PYR led 226 classes specifically for children and youth, providing 1,648 yoga experiences, in both school and community center/agency settings through our outreach programs.

Over the past 6 years, Project Yoga Richmond has developed and implemented yoga programming for youth to provide these benefits throughout Greater Richmond. Currently, PYR offers recurring programming at the following Title 1 schools:

  • Binford Middle School (Partnership with Higher Achievement)
  • Falling Creek Middle School (Working with ESOL students)
  • Greene Elementary and Salem Church Middle School (Working with ESOL students, Partnership with Pasaporte a la Educacion of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce)
  • Thomas Jefferson High School  
  • Henderson Middle School (Partnership with NextUp RVA)
  • T.C. Boushall Middle School (Partnership with NextUp RVA)

Project Yoga Richmond also partners with SwimRVA to offer yoga programming to youth from Peter Paul Development Center and with Robinson Theater Community Arts Center in the East End, working with George Mason Elementary youth.

Project Yoga Richmond receives evaluations from program participants, yoga instructors, and partner organization staff ton the impact of the yoga and mindfulness classes.  Many of them cite positive effects of yoga for adolescents, including:

  • Less anxiety
  • A greater sense of self and belonging
  • Developed the ability to self-monitor
  • Better focus
  • Felt less reactive

Unroll your mat with us at our pay-what-you-can studio and Saturday Salutations to support our yoga and mindfulness outreach programs and make transformations like this possible. You can support our outreach programs by paying-what-you-can when you pre-register for this event! And know that anytime you pay-what-you-can for class at our studio 7-days a week, you are supporting outreach like this!

Make an impact. Unroll your mat. Sign up for Saturday Salutations at the VMFA today to learn more about and support Yoga for Youth!

If you would like to learn more about how to support Yoga for youth or to sponsor one of our outreach programs, you can make a donation by clicking here 365 days a year or contact holly@projectyogarichmond.org for more information!

Works Cited

Wei, Marlynn. “7 Ways Yoga Helps Children and Teens.”Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 22 May 2015. Web. 20 June 2017.

“Yoga 4 Classrooms®.” Scientific Evidence for Yoga and Mindfulness in Schools: How and Why Does It Work? N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2017.

3 Ways Yoga Helps Direct Support Staff

In order to take care of others, we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. By offering trauma-informed yoga for staff who support populations in need, we were able to provide self-care and self-regulation tools to support building resilience in our community. This not only offers the tools to staff but provides them with the skill sets to offer basic self-care practices to the populations they work with as well. 

Safe Harbor Shelter provides support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence to overcome their crisis and to transform their lives. Staff who directly work with those who have experienced trauma have an increased likelihood of:

  • Secondary traumatic stress, also known as compassion fatigue
    • Compassion fatigue can lead to vicarious traumatization which can be common among caregivers after constant exposure to the trauma of others
  • Burnout
    • Enhanced by the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion due to chronic work-related stress

These effects make it challenging to provide high-quality care to patients and may result in a high level of staff turnover. In order to prevent this from happening, Safe Harbor reached out to Project Yoga Richmond to provide meditation and self-care practices for staff. Project Yoga Richmond began offering yoga to the Direct Support Staff at Safe Harbour in September of 2015.Safe Harbor had a few goals for offering yoga and meditation to the staff in order to provide the best care possible. Each month, Project Yoga Richmond provides the space to encourage self-care and the tools to develop sensory awareness and self-regulation and to ground and center the team.  

Working with 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 and meditation program into the work week.

Two tips for teaching direct support staff:
  1. Gentle, trauma-sensitive movement using the support of the chair
    • This teaching style offers staff the tools to use these techniques at their desks when needed, making yoga and meditation accessible in a hectic work environment.
  2. Breathing techniques and meditation for staff to ground and center
    • The techniques develop self-regulation and build resilience.
 “The sessions really impact our day and get us in a good headspace, especially since Wednesday tend to be hectic around here.”
– Safe Harbor Staff Member
3 Ways Self-Care Practices Benefits Staff at Safe Harbor:
  1. General Wellness is provided as staff are empowered to practice yoga and meditation techniques and directly experience the benefits
  2. Organizational Wellness is demonstrated as staff is encouraged to create time and space for self-care practices during their work day and providing a community of support at work for those practices
  3. Education around the impacts of working with people who have experienced trauma is provided, as a well as a means of coping with the impacts

Help us support those who support others in your community by signing up and paying-what-you-can for Saturday Salutations at the VMFA highlighting Yoga for Direct Support Staff with Amy Taylor on June 10!

Pay-what-you-can for Saturday Salutations to help us make $900 to support yoga and mindfulness outreach programs like this across the Greater Richmond Region!
Works Cited

Menschner, Center Christopher, and Alexandra Maul. “Strategies for Encouraging Staff Wellness in Trauma-Informed Organizations.” Strategies for Encouraging Staff Wellness in Trauma-Informed Organizations (n.d.): n. pag. Center for Health Care Strategies. Web.

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