10 Yoga and Mindfulness Programs

Are you wondering what programs you will be supporting during our GivingTuesday Yogathon on November 28? Here is a list of 10 of the programs you will be supporting as we raise $10,000 on #GivingTuesday!
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!

6 Simple Yoga Poses You Can Use Right Now to Fight Fatigue

Written by: Lucy Wyndham

Your eyelids are getting heavy. Your brain is moving at a snail’s pace. Whether you are sitting in your office chair on a boring afternoon or trying to wrangle your children after work, the struggle with fatigue is real. Fortunately, these yoga poses will help reinvigorate you.

Savasana

Savasana improves mental concentration, offers total relaxation, and is a fantastic way to relieve fatigue at home. You start by lying on your back with your legs stretched in front of you. Your feet will fall to either side. Close your eyes and place your arms on the sides of your body with palms up. You can hold this pose for five to ten minutes or for however long you want. Breathe into your belly. Keep the focus on your inhales and exhales or engage in breathing exercises and meditations.

Supine Twist

The supine twist releases the lower back, opens the shoulders, quiets the mind, and improves digestion. You start by lying on your back with your feet on the ground and your knees bent. Keeping your left shoulder and the sides of your feet on the ground, let both of your knees fall to the right side of your body. Lastly, look over your left shoulder and put your arms out to make a T.

Legs Up the Wall

You can do this with a chair or against the wall. Begin parallel to the wall. Lean backward as you twist your legs toward the wall. In a comfortable position, let your legs rest on the wall. If you find the floor uncomfortable, you can use a blanket or pillow for your hips or head. Notice your breathing as you place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.

Cat/Cow

Start with your hands shoulder distance apart and knees hip distance as you are on your hands and knees. Roll the shoulders back, lift up your hips, look forward, and let your belly lower as you inhale. Round the spine, let the head drop, and tuck the hips as you exhale. This improves digestion, relieves back pain, and opens up the spine.

Child’s

With your knees a few inches wider than your hips and your feet together, sit on the floor. Rest your forehead on the floor by walking your hands forward. Use a blanket or pillow under your forehead if it does not reach the floor. Take deep, slow breaths.

Butterfly

Relieve fatigue by sitting on the floor with the soles of your feet together. Open the feet like a book and round the spine. Then, fold forward towards your feet.

 

Fight fatigue with us by practicing with PYR 7 days a week at our pay-what-you-can studio!
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

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!

Join us at Saturday Salutations at the VMFA on September 9 at 9am with Izzy Shurte as we highlight and support our Trauma-Informed Yoga Outreach programs. You can also join us every other Sunday from 12:30-1:30pm for Love Your Body: Yoga for Women to experience trauma-informed techniques for yourself!

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.

Can Acro Yoga Help Build Trust?

We believe yoga has the power to heal and strengthen individuals and in turn, transform whole communities. We work hard to increase access to yoga because we see this transformation on a daily basis through our students. We are honored that one of our student’s, Julia Bardof, took the time to share a part of her story with us and reflected on the ways acro yoga has changed her life.

“To say yoga has changed my life is an understatement. Yoga, Acro Yoga, and Thai medicine are now intertwined parts of my being. They have all played an integral part of my healing process on so many levels. Yoga has physically helped my symptoms from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, while mentally and emotionally helping me find more balance and peace.

When reflecting on the ways Acro Yoga has transformed my life, trust is one of the first words that come to mind. Acro Yoga provides a space for me to trust myself to get out of my own head and allow movement to happen. To trust another human to suspend me in the air, to fully support another human-being them safely to the ground, trusting the spotter has your back, should something go awry.

The initial trusting of each other’s strengths is one thing, but trusting another human on a deeper level, that takes time to cultivate. To truly connect with another human in that moment to create a fluid movement together. To know that you are not alone. This is where Acro changes lives. To me, this practice goes much deeper than the physical. Unfortunate trauma in my earlier years, left me quite guarded, especially regarding physical touch and overall social anxiety. This practice just continues to help breakdown barriers.

None of these amazing things could happen without a group of loving, welcoming, individuals who’ve also gone through their struggles, who have experienced the medicine of physical touch and true connection.  Individuals who have chosen to open up and allow for change and healing to occur together. The Acro Yoga Richmond community sparks so much love, joy, and compassion. I feel blessed to be a part of it.”

Through acro yoga, we hope to provide a place for you to heal, trust, and support one another. Join us this Sunday, February 19 and Acro Yoga 101 with Kim Catley from 2-4:30 pm! If this practice is new to you, do not fear, all are welcome and we have this blog post for you to help answer any questions!

 

Photography: Kaiya Healing Arts

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