One Million Faces: Remixing Resiliency with YJ Live in Estes Park

One Million Faces - Shiva Rea

Join in community with Give Back Yoga Foundation and One Million Faces at Yoga Journal LIVE! in Estes Park.

Join us on October 1st through 4th at Yoga Journal LIVE! in Colorado to deepen your practice and help us to give back yoga. Share in a free community Yoga for First Responders class, and join us for a Give Back Yoga presentation to find out how you can give back from the mat to those who are most vulnerable. Get your photo taken in support of the programs of Give Back Yoga, and be a part of the live Remixing Resiliency prayer flag installation at the Sangha Space inside the Yoga Marketplace. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this revolution!

Learn How We Can Help You Give Back

Join us for a brief overview of how the Give Back Yoga Foundation can support you in giving back from the mat to those who are most vulnerable. To find out more about the populations we serve, stop by our Programs and Projects pages.

Friday, October 2nd
Saturday, October 3rd
10:05 to 10:20 am
Free to all

Free Community Class: Explore the Yoga for First Responders Approach

When we step on our yoga mats, are we setting intentions that cover the full spectrum of what yoga has to offer? Or are we habitually concerning ourselves with only the physical benefits of our practice?

Yoga for First RespondersJoin us in the Yoga Journal LIVE! Sangha Space for a free community class that explores the potential of change that yoga can provide on a neurological level — including putting an end to the adverse effects of stress, and building mental and physical resiliency.

This approach serves as the basis for Yoga for First Responders, a  program that helps emergency personnel to cope with stress and trauma, find resilience, and support peak performance. The techniques and practices offered through YFFR can help every human being to find resilience and inner strength for facing life’s challenges.

This free community class is open to all, and first responders who attend the event will take home a free gift of a high-quality athletic size yoga mat donated by Gaiam to support your personal practice.

Friday, October 2nd
Saturday, October 3rd
2:30 to 3:20 pm
Free to all

One Million Faces: Remixing Resiliency

The One Million Faces project is the brainchild of artist and photographer Peggy Dyer. Through this project, Peggy has worked with families, veterans, yogis, entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders and everyone in between — capturing the power of their story through portraits with whiteboard messages. In the six years since it was founded, the OMF Project has blossomed into community art events all over the world that blend art with heart, inspiring connection and conversation.

TOne Million Faces - Seane Cornhe YJ Live One Million Faces: Remixing Resiliency prayer flag installation weaves threads of connection that invite people to engage in the story and mission of Give Back Yoga through images of first responders, national guardsman and fireman, and other inspired faces from the One Million Faces archive. The result is a compelling tapestry of portraits that allow the beauty of each person to light up the sky — portraits that are at once playful, emotive, expressive, honest and compelling.

As an photographer, Peggy is deeply committed to the importance of community connection and healing through art, working intimately with local communities that were severely impacted by the flooding Colorado experienced in September 2013. Learn more in the video below. Through the Remixing Resiliency project, Peggy hopes to spread awareness of the hope and lasting tools for inner peace that programs that like Yoga for First Responders can offer.

We invite you to add your face and voice to this evolving art installation, raising funds and awareness for this mission. The One Million Faces project is a conversation of community, a call for change, an invitation to express and have your voice be heard and seen. What’s your message? What’s your story? Join the conversation and the evolution today!

Thursday, October 1st through Sunday, October 4th
During Sangha Space hours
Photo: $20
Photo + Flag: $35
Additional Flags: $10 each
Proceeds to benefit Give Back Yoga


One Million Faces Lyons Project from Peggy Dyer on Vimeo.

Dr. Robert Scott: Yoga for First Responders

dr robert scottThis is an interview with Dr. Robert Scott, a licensed psychologist as well as a nationally recognized teacher, trainer, and consultant in the field of trauma/disaster psychology. I first met Bob at the “Trauma-Sensitive Yoga and Resiliency Training to Benefit First Responders” held at the Sedona Yoga Festival in February 2015. For over 30 years Dr. Scott has provided crisis response interventions and support to first responder populations, including fire, police, medical, aviation, military, and Red Cross personnel.

In 1998, he was appointed Department Psychologist and Director of the Behavioral Health and Wellness Program for the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD). In addition to his regular duties and activities of critical incident response and training, Dr. Scott directed and supervised the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team deployment to the World Trade Center attack in the aftermath of 9/11. During the team’s two-week deployment, Dr. Scott provided CISM intervention and support to the Fire Department of New York. Dr. Scott also provided similar support with his CISM team to Louisiana Firefighters during a one-week deployment to the hurricane-impacted Gulf states during hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Rob: What originally motivated you to start a yoga program at the Los Angeles Fire Department?

To be honest, I was not really thinking about a yoga program for first responders until I met Olivia Kvitne, a local yoga teacher. When she suggested it, I was skeptical because I was aware of the biases that most people have about yoga, especially folks in the fire service. However, my wife has practiced yoga for over 20 years, and I was already aware of its powerful health-promoting benefits. I knew that it would be a good thing for the population, but how was I going to get around breaking the stigma attached to it?

Once I met with Olivia and heard her about her unique way of implementing yoga for first responders, I knew we had a chance of seeing it applied in this setting. Olivia had a unique blend of knowledge, positive attitude and energy, and with her approach I felt we had a good chance of making it work with the first responder personality.

I also decided that I would participate in the class myself! My wife had been wanting me to start yoga for the longest time, so I thought this would be a great way to join in with the members of the department, and test the program out personally. From the moment we started the program at LAFD, I began to see the benefits on a personal level as well.

What is the importance of mindfulness for allowing first responders, like firefighters, to thrive in high-intensity, high-adrenaline environments, while at the same time helping build strength and resiliency?

Mindfulness and yoga allow for a “stress break” and present a valuable tool to add to the stress management package that first responders need to survive in a profession that has a long trajectory in terms of its career span (usually 20-30 years). First responder work also happens to be rated the most stressful job in the nation. (The Most Stressful Jobs of 2015,; Most (and Least) Stressful Jobs for 2015, Business News Daily.)

In one segment — about three shifts over a week — firefighters may witness and experience more trauma, loss, death, and destruction than the average person might see in a lifetime. It is for this reason that yoga and mindfulness become a critical factor in allowing this population to “vent off” excess stress, reduce hyper-vigilant response patterns, and build positive resistance to the harsh and negative effects of stress. We call that process of building resistance and psychological strength “resiliency.” Resiliency is an essential component to dealing effectively with a career in the fire service.

Has the application and effectiveness of your program been evaluated? Is there an evidence base for the benefits of yoga for this population?

Yes, we’ve done some preliminary pencil and paper survey questionnaires and found that the participants rated the program’s effectiveness very highly! However, the sample size was small. We need larger groups to study, utilizing a controlled scientific method. What we can do, however, is extrapolate from the current statistics available for military populations, which suggest very positive reductions in PTSD and other stress-related symptoms. A recent study published in The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has very encouraging things to say about yoga’s cardiovascular and stress-reducing effectiveness, which can likely be applied to this population as well (Chu, Gotink, Yeh, Goldie, & Hunink, 2015).

What is the greatest obstacle in mindfulness classes becoming a regular feature in fire departments?

It’s simply getting over and beyond the stigma of yoga, and the misunderstandings that have been created by “silly” stereotypes that have been used in the media and in films and television. Once a department or an administrator looks at the program either in a video or in an actual class, they will see the effectiveness and power of it immediately. As mentioned in the recent cardiology study, yoga has a distinct advantage over traditional exercise programs utilized in the fire service. With budgets stretched to their limits,”Yoga has the potential to be a cost-effective treatment and prevention strategy given its low cost, lack of expensive equipment or technology, potential greater adherence, health-related quality of life improvements, and possible accessibility to larger segments of the population.” (Chu, et. al. 2015)

What advice would you give to anyone who would like to volunteer teaching a weekly class at a fire department?

You need to be prepared for some resistance, and you need to be very professional and “down to earth.” Don’t use yogic jargon. You need to be familiar with fire department culture. If you don’t understand it or know it, get someone who is familiar with it to sit down with you to explain it. Then take time to get to know the culture before you step into it. Take a class that prepares you to work with this population.

What should fire department administrators know about the Yoga for First Responders program?

They will be getting a cost-effective, comprehensive program of stress reduction and cardio-fitness that will outdo most standard fitness programs for reducing job injuries and increasing physical and psychological resiliency among their employees.

It will be effective for both their civilian as well as uniformed members. In our test program at LAFD, we mixed our program and allowed civilian members to join our uniform members. It worked beautifully, and added to the cooperative understanding between the two groups.

Originally published on the Huffington Post Blog on August 25, 2015.

Groundbreaking Trauma-Sensitive Yoga and Resiliency Training to Benefit First Responders

The Sedona Yoga Festival and the Give Back Yoga Foundation (GBYF) are proud to present “SYF Gives Back: Trauma-Sensitive Yoga and Resiliency Training to Benefit First Responders and Emergency Personnel” on February 4 – 6, 2015 in Sedona, AZ. 


Sedona, CO (PRWEB) December 04, 2014

The Sedona Yoga Festival and the Give Back Yoga Foundation (GBYF) are proud to present “SYF Gives Back: Trauma-Sensitive Yoga and Resiliency Training to Benefit First Responders and Emergency Personnel” on February 4 – 6, 2015 in Sedona, AZ.

This intensive training is useful for yoga teachers, psychologists, first responders or anyone wanting to or working with first responders and law enforcement personnel who may be dealing with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS), aka “compassion fatigue.”

Scientific studies now show that yoga and other mindfulness practices have a significant positive contribution on alleviating PTS and STS symptoms, and on strengthening body and mind resiliency. Students will leave this trauma-sensitive yoga training with the necessary tools to benefit this population. Certified yoga teachers are eligible to receive 14 CEUs through Yoga Alliance through the training, while nurses and counselors can receive 22 CEUs.

Last year, the Sedona Yoga Festival helped the Give Back Yoga Foundation to reach their goal of getting therapeutic yoga toolkits into the hands of 10,000 Veterans. Through the 2015 SYF Gives Back training, the organizations collaboratively aim to share skills and tools to help bring therapeutic yoga to at least 4,000 first responders nationwide.

“In the lives of first responders in service to our country, traumatic events are experienced, sometimes on a daily basis,” says SYF founder and former wildland firefighter Marc Titus. “This cumulative stress has profound effects on the human body, mind and spirit — to which the efficacy of Yoga, meditation and other mindfulness practices as treatment and prevention has been beyond proven in our scientific community, as well as described in the ancient texts of this thousands of years old science.”

The Trauma-Sensitive Yoga and Resiliency Training to Benefit First Responders is the first offering of a new program called Yoga for First Responders, sponsored through the Give Back Yoga Foundation. The Yoga for First Responders program and upcoming training are led by Olivia Kvitne, ERYT-500, who is also an Assistant Editor of LA Yoga Magazine. Olivia has taught regular yoga classes and continuing education for the Los Angeles Fire Department, as well as specialty workshops on trauma-sensitive yoga for high-ranking command staff of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Download the training flyer to print and share.

“This training bridges the gap between the yoga community and a population that may not have considered yoga as an effective and accessible tool to address their needs,” says Kvitne. “I am proud to bring together top authorities in psychology, neuroscience and trauma-sensitive yoga to create a down-to-earth and science-based yoga system that can benefit our nation’s everyday heroes.”

Another fellow faculty member, Bhava Ram, ERYT-500 — aka Brad Willis — is a former award-winning network news war correspondent whose career was ended by a broken back. After a subsequent diagnosis of terminal cancer, he embraced mind/body/spirit medicine and the deeper sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda, through which he ultimately healed against all odds. As a yoga teacher, he now shares the message that we all have the inner power to heal.

“As one who was on the front lines of conflicts and crises in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and Central America, I can attest to the fact that yoga gave me the strength to lift myself out of an abyss of profound physical and mental anguish, and ultimately find new meaning and purpose in life,” says Ram.

“No one should feel weird about doing yoga, especially first responders who experience injury, trauma, and death,” adds Give Back Yoga’s Executive Director, Rob Schware. “This is the first intensive training to mobilize hundreds of yoga teachers and yoga therapists to come out of their studios and offices and bring their knowledge and skills into police and fire departments. We extend an open invitation to all to join us in this work.”

Learn more about the Trauma-Sensitive Yoga and Resiliency Training to Benefit First Responders and Emergency Personnel.


Visit PRWeb to view the original version of this press release, supported through the web marketing team at Ramblin Jackson. We extend our thanks to Ramblin Jackson for supporting Give Back Yoga as a nonprofit organization.