I am one of those numbers

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?

Sincerely, 
Matt Stone
Brook Road Academy Student 
Project Yoga Richmond Programs Student

Support Matt, and the practice of our students across the Greater Richmond region by making your tax-deductible donation to PYR today!
Click here to make a gift today!

 

10 Yoga and Mindfulness Programs

Check out the programs you will be helping us highlight and support by donating to #ampitup! 

1. Brooke Road Academy

  • PYR launched its first community partnership at Brook Road Academy at St. Joseph’s Villa in March 2011, offering yoga and mindfulness to middle and high schoolers, including those facing extraordinary challenges.  Drawing from the program’s success, PYR has developed and implemented yoga and mindfulness partnerships for individuals and communities of all abilities and ages.

    “Project Yoga Richmond has given members of the Brook Road Academy community opportunities to better understand the dynamic interactions among the body, brain, and breath – an integral part of learning that fosters critical reflections and self awareness.” – Ben Walters, English Dept. Chair, Brook Road Academy

2. The Founder’s Center for Commonwealth Autism
  • We offer yoga as a part of The Founders Center of Commonwealth Autism‘s Transition Program each week! Yoga has been a great way for students to engage in physical activity at their own level! And we love having the chance to visit our friends as we share the benefits of the practice with Commonwealth Autism!
  • The physical sequences are similar from week to week (or class to class) to build confidence, encourage exploration, gain a sense of empowerment and independence, and ultimately increase mobility, strength, and balance.  

“Our Transition Program has an adapted yoga class with teachers from Project Yoga Richmond once a week. It has been a great way for our students to engage in physical activity at their own level.” – The Founder’s Center of Commonwealth Autism

3. Freedom Yoga: Yoga for Special Needs
  • Offered the first Saturday of each month from 12:30-1:30pm at PYR’s studio.
  • This class is tailored toward students with intellectual disabilities, everyone in the community is welcome to join!

“Freedom Yoga was a doorway to yoga for us because there weren’t any other places we could go that were calm, relaxing, enveloping, and welcoming to yoga students with special needs, and now we even go to a gentle yoga class together on the regular schedule with all the other students! … It has opened up a whole world of opportunity.”
-Parent of a Freedom Yoga Student

4. ESOL Yoga with the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Passport to Education at Greene Elementary and Salem Church Middle

  • Many ESOL students have shared stories of separations and reunifications due to migration, interrupted schooling, difficult, and border detentions. These experiences often have a traumatic impact on students, which manifests in the classroom and in daily life.
  • PYR  has studied Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, conducted by Kaiser Permanante and the CDC, and uses yoga, meditation, and mindfulness as a community resource for serving youth and helping to build resilience.  These trauma-informed classes have supported students as they heal trauma and build resilience.
    • Yoga provides a fully integrated experience by which a connection is made to one’s own body and to others.
    • Through breath, movement, and experience in the present moment, yoga creates rhythms that aid in regulation.
    • Yoga is a structured, supported, self-paced way for students to make small, manageable choices with respects to their bodies – and the shapes they make – that are kind and compassionate.  In making these safe, healthy choices, students can start developing skills around acting rather than reacting
  • Yoga supports ESOL learners to develop language skills and resiliency and fosters community and connection.

“I feel very calm and I can forget about the things that I do not like to think about. I calm down and then don’t need to be so upset anymore. I am grateful because you have taught me to control myself, thank you for your teachings, to be able to control my breath”. – PYR Programs Student

5. Boushall Middle School  and Lucille Brown Middle School with Next Up RVA

  • Half of PYR’s Community Partnerships engage children & youth!
  •  We introduce breathing exercises, relaxation, and visualization techniques as a support to cope with and reduce stress, improve focus/concentration and self-regulation, and promote a general sense of health and emotional well-being.

“For those moments when I feel scared, sad, joyful, disgusted, accepting, ashamed, loving, gentle, or anything and everything else, there is immaculate calm inside me. It’s beautiful. It’s imperfect. It is why I do yoga.” -PYR Programs Student

6. Aspree Adult Day Services
  • This program engages adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 
  • These adaptive yoga classes are focused on building strength, developing regulation skills through breathing, improving mobility and maintaining/improving overall health and emotional well-being. Additionally, these classes provide a sense of belonging and community.  
7. Senior Center East at Peter Paul Development Center
  • Yoga for seniors supports health benefits, increases mobility and strength, and provides a sense of belonging and community. We have noticed that seniors are able to balance and hold poses for longer, extend their legs and arms higher, and remain in seated savasana/meditation for longer
  • We offer yoga for seniors at Senior Center EAST at Peter Paul Development Center and Marywood Court Senior Apartments
8. Y12SR

  • Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) supports 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.
  • We offer Y12SR at our studio every Tuesday 5:30-7pm and the first Friday of each month from 5:30-7 pm.
9. Trauma-Informed Yoga for Women

  • 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.
  • Join us every other Sunday from 12:30-1:30 pm for Love Your Body: Yoga for Women to experience trauma-informed techniques for yourself!
10. Binford Middle School with Higher Achievement
  • 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
Support these programs today!
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

Top 4 Yoga for Special Needs Programs in Your Community

Yoga for special needs classes provide a sense of belonging and community. These adaptive yoga classes focus on building strength, developing regulation skills through breathing, improving mobility and maintaining/improving overall health and emotional well-being.The physical sequences are similar from week to week (or class to class) to build confidence, encourage exploration, gain a sense of empowerment and independence, as well as increasing mobility, strength and balance.

 

PYR offers 4 Yoga for Special Needs programs:

Aspree Adult Day Services

Running weekly since Spring 2013 

Instructors: Sarah Humphries and Dan Weiseman

Population Served: Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

 

Founders Center of Commonwealth Autism

Running weekly since October 2012

Instructor: Carrie Puryear

Population Served: Teens with Autism (we work with the Upper School)

 

 

Freedom Yoga

Running monthly since Spring 2013 at PYR

Instructor: Carrie Puryear

Population Served: Adults with Intellectual Disabilities, their friends and family, and is also open to the entire community

 

This was a doorway to yoga for us because there weren’t any other places we could go that was calm and relaxing and enveloping and welcoming and now we even go to a gentle yoga class on the regular schedule with all the other students.  It has opened up a whole world that I never thought we would have the opportunity.” – Parent of a Freedom Yoga Student
Transitions Day Support Services

Running weekly since April 2015

Instructor: Natasha Foreman

Population Served: Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

 

 

“My brother and I wanted to thank you and Special Olympics for the So-Fit program and share with you all the difference it has made in his health.  He really took the program very seriously and actively participated in the Yoga and Exercise programs.

I must say the coaches at Yoga and JCC were excellent!  They gave individual attention to each member, which really made him try harder to accomplish especially the Yoga positions.

In July, we went to see his primary care physician, Dr. David Taminger, with results that were remarkable.  Not only had he lost a total of 14 pounds, but also had the best lab results this year.  For his diabetes the results of his HbA1C,  which is a measure of your average blood glucose levels was 1.2 points lower.  His fasting glucose level was also within normal limits. His cholesterol levels was also so much lower. Overall he showed remarkable improvements. His doctor sent us a note saying, ” Whatever you are doing, please keep up the good work.”

This program really worked and I am so glad that we were participants.  Not only was it fun and gave him an opportunity to see old friends at the program, it has made a substantial difference in his health.  My only wish is to have a continuation of this program on a more permanent basis.”

Testimonial from a sister of a participant

Each time you practice with and support Project Yoga Richmond, you make programs and impacts like this possible.  Provide the benefits of yoga to all, make a donation today!
Increase Access!

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.

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