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.

Looking Back on 9/11: Beryl Bender Birch & Yoga for Post-Traumatic Stress

Beryl Bender BirchOn September 11, 2001, Give Back Yoga co-founder Beryl Bender Birch was living in New York City, where she taught yoga to athletes. Two days after terrorists attacked the Twin Towers, her friend JoAnn Difede — director of a program that studied anxiety and stress — asked Beryl to come to her offices to help the families of burn victims who had escaped from the towers. That moment would shape the course of her career, as Beryl began using yoga practices to help first responders and those with post-traumatic stress.

Later, the medical community would realize just how helpful the broad spectrum of mindful yoga therapies could be when used as a complementary treatment for anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress. Thanks to JoAnn’s urgent call for help after 9/11, Beryl was able to help lead the way, becoming one of the first yoga professionals to apply yoga methodology to the integral treatment of post-traumatic stress. 

On this 14th anniversary of 9/11, we honor the memory of this tragedy and our hope for the future with an excerpt from the preface to “Yoga For Warriors: a System For Veterans & Military Service Men And Women,” written by Beryl and published by Sounds True.

“When I walked into a small room in the hospital burn center, I was nervous. It was filled with comfortable couches and chairs, a plain wooden table, and just a few men and women — relatives of the people who were wrapped in bandages from head to toe and heavily medicated for relief from unbelievable pain. Many were dying, others struggling for life. Their family members sat in stunned silence.

They all looked up as I came into the room, hoping for news of someone, somewhere. They looked exhausted. No one had slept since the towers collapsed. I didn’t assume anything. I didn’t assume I could help. I didn’t assume I knew anything that could be of use. Faced with such incredible suffering, how could anyone go on with the mundane activities of life? There was such a sense of despair in the room. I just sat down quietly at the table and put my head in my hands.

Dear Lord, I thought, give me strength and the right words to say. A man came over and put his hand on my shoulder. We both started to cry. That was it — the icebreaker.

I introduced myself and suggested that we, all together, see if there was something we could discover, something we could do, that would help us all to sleep, to deal with the tragedy, to grieve while avoiding despair and depression. I remembered what I had done in yoga classes the night before: sitting with everyone and breathing. It was the breathing that seemed to offer the most relief and the most comfort.

‘Let’s just sit together,’ I suggested. Everyone moved into a circle around the table, and I invited them to close their eyes. What happened after that, I don’t remember very well, except that I slowly came around to teaching them a closed-mouth yoga breathing technique called ujjayi. Breathe in, breathe out — with sound. That’s all. You just pay attention to the sound and see if you can make the inhalation and the exhalation the same length and make them sound as much alike as possible.

Within minutes, everyone at the table was making the slow, controlled, aspirant sound of the inhalation and the deep, sibilant sound of the exhalation. They just got it. They hung on it as a lifeline. Time became timeless. We sat like that for nearly thirty or forty minutes, although none of us had a clue how long we had been there. I kept an eye on them. Each of them just climbed into the breath and went to a place that was quiet and peaceful — for a moment. One man fell asleep during the session; God bless him. It was joyful to see him sleeping. Another woman actually smiled and came and hugged me. I can’t say it was some miraculous cure for suffering, but it did help.

I said to the group, ‘I hope you will remember that well enough to use in your most difficult moments; it will help you to sleep and to find strength.’

The man who had been sleeping looked up and asked, ‘Can you come back tomorrow?’ So I did.”

Beryl Bender Birch
Yoga for Warriors
Published in 2014 by Sounds True

Learn how you can share “Yoga For Warriors” with those who have served.


Give Back Yoga Friends - Yoga for Warriors

Introducing: Our 108 Studio Partnership Program


Now, there’s a new way to give back from the mat: Give Back Yoga’s 108 Studio Partnership Program. We’re inviting studios across the country to join the Give Back family and raise funds for a service program of your choice, helping certified yoga teachers and yoga therapists to bring this healing mind/body practice to those who are most vulnerable.

How the 108 Studio Partnership Program Works

Over a one-year period, partner studios give back by hosting a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly fundraiser to help bring yoga to those who might not otherwise experience this transformational practice. This can be as simple as a donation class held on a specific day each month. Or it can be an exciting opportunity for your community to come together for special events such as a 108 Sun Salutations practice or a guest teacher, speaker or artist.

Our 108 partners also host a “Give Back Yoga Month” to jump-start the program and raise awareness for Give Back Yoga’s mission, sharing information during regularly scheduled classes and collecting donations at the front desk.

How Your Studio Can Make a Difference

With your help, Give Back Yoga can support our partner programs in expanding their reach, bringing therapeutic yoga to even more of the people we aim to serve. Through the 108 Partnership Program, studio communities can give wings to programs like:

  • Eat Breathe Thrive: Fostering positive body image and overcoming eating disorders.
  • Mindful Yoga Therapy: Helping veterans to find a calm and steady body/mind.
  • Prison Yoga Project: Teaching skills for non-violent problem resolution and healing.
  • Give Back Yoga: Supporting our operations to cover our largest areas of need.

 How the Program Benefits Studios

Becoming a 108 Studio Partner can help studios to build a close-knit community of the heart by gathering students around a common cause. It’s also a way to help students begin to explore and practice karma yoga, by giving back a gift that has touched each of their lives — the gift of a practice that can transform from the inside out.

The 108 Studio Partnership Program can also help studios to raise their online and local presence, as organizers work with community partners and Give Back Yoga to cross-promote events large and small through online and offline channels. Additionally, Give Back Yoga issues an end-of-year tax receipt to all active 108 Studio Partners, which may help your studio to offset expenses.

What 108 Studio Partners Are Saying About the Program

“It is important to extend the ancient teachings of yoga out beyond the space of yoga studios and into the world where it can reach the many people in need who may never walk through the doors of a yoga center. The time-tested benefits of a regular yoga practice are profound not just on the individual, but on all of society, essentially creating more peace for all.  At a time in human history when there is a tremendous amount of chaos, Give Back Yoga supports growth, healing and harmony for all of society.  I am happy and grateful to have my yoga studio community give back as a whole while benefitting on so many levels from the 108 Studio collaboration with Give Back Yoga Foundation.” — Annie Freedom, founder of Samadhi Center for Yoga, Denver, CO


Become a 108 Studio Partner or learn more: email to request information on getting started.


Connect with our 108 Studio Partners:


True Nature Healing ArtsLotus House of YogaYoga Pod LoDoYoga Studio SatyaYoga Pod BoulderOutlaw Yoga


Main image courtesy of Merrick Chase Photography.

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.


Thrive and Shine! June 11th Talent Show & Hoopy Hour to Benefit GBYF

Join Give Back Yoga on Wednesday, June 11th for delicious, organic, farm-to-table food and inspiring community at Boulder’s Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place! 10% of the evening’s food purchases and all donations collected through the night will benefit Give Back Yoga’s mission of bringing yoga and mindfulness to underserved communities like first responders, veterans, at-risk teens, prisoners and those with disordered body image.

All donations from the talent show will support Eat, Breathe, Thrive®, Give Back Yoga’s cutting edge, transformative program that integrates yoga, mindfulness and community support to prevent eating disorders, and to help individuals recover from disordered eating and negative body image.

Event Schedule

Location: Shine Restaurant, 2027 13th St. Boulder, CO

Date & Time: June 11, 5:00 – 10:00 p.m.

5-7 p.m.: Hoopy Hour with Kristina Sutcliff of O Dance – $6.00

8-10 p.m.: Thrive and Shine Community Give Back Talent Show – $8+ donation at the door

Happy Hour specials begin at 5 pm; dinner served all evening

 Talent Lineup

Jim Beckwith, Live! Music for Yoga

Chuck White

Colleen Vistara with Jeremy Kurn

“One Big Yes”

Christine Moore, ShimmYogini

Kristina Sutcliffe of O Dance and hoop dancer Kristina Brothis

Dana Gonzalez

Scott and Shanti Medina

Pam Mayer of Pam Hoops

The Schiff Dance Collective Training Company

Jinju of Soul Flow Arts

Help Others To Thrive

Support this community event by spreading the word! Share this post, or join our Facebook event and invite others to stop by.  Can’t make it? Help us to give back yoga by making a direct donation to support Eat Breathe Thrive or the Give Back Yoga project of your choice. Every dollar makes a difference.

We are grateful to our sponsors:

CALMING KIDS: Creating a non-violent world by training adults to reach children through yoga.

Brenda Taylor Photography: Headshots, portraits and special events.

Foodie Fuel: High-protein, gluten-free snacks.

Christine Moore, Shimmyogini.

As well as…





Olivia Kvitne: Serving Those Who Serve

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with “Yoga for Heroes” creator Olivia Kvitne for The Huffington Post Blog to learn how she’s introducing the scientifically proven benefits of yoga and meditation to veterans, active duty military and first responders.

“My assumptions when giving my first workshop for veterans was that I was going to have to do a lot of convincing for them to even close their eyes and take a mindful breath. I prepared to have some chuckles, resistance, and everyone would want to get to the planks and chaturanga push ups. Surprisingly, everyone enjoyed the guided meditation during final relaxation more than anything else. I could tell their nervous systems were craving homeostasis.”

– Olivia Kvitne, who offers free yoga workshops for vets, military and first responders through the Yoga for Heroes program

Read Olivia’s full interview on The Huffington Post Blog to learn what inspired her to share yoga with “real-life heroes,” and her advice for teachers who want to serve in a similar way.


Dharma. Service in Action. Sedona Yoga Festival Gives Back. Help us to bring the transformational power of yoga and meditation to 10,000 veterans who are recovering from post-traumatic stress by joining us at the Sedona Yoga Festival on February 6th and 7th for a two-day Mindful Therapeutic Yoga Practices for Veterans pre-conference training. Learn clinically-proven techniques to help students recover from trauma and emotional stress, so you can bring trauma-sensitive yoga back to your community.

Debby Kaminsky: Empowering First Responders and Children Through Yoga

In his latest interview for The Huffington Post Blog, Executive Director Rob Schware talks with Newark Yoga Movement founder Debby Kaminsky to learn how yoga outreach is benefitting New Jersey’s largest fire department.

“The fire department is the most polite group of public safety figures I’ve ever met; still the mindset of many firefighters is “why change?” and introducing yoga wasn’t 100% embraced. After one session, though, most were converted. In an informal survey this September, 84% said they enjoyed yoga and 74% felt the fire department would benefit from a continued program. A standout moment for me, I think, is watching the Fire Director practice yoga with his recruits, and then lead yoga in front of 750 people at Global Mala NJ 2013.”

– Debby Kaminsky, founder of Newark Yoga Movement, a non-profit that’s shared yoga with over 14,000 students and the Newark Fire Department

Learn how Debby tailors her teaching style to children and first responders, and her vision for the future of yoga service in America, by reading her full interview.


Do you want to bring the transformational power of yoga and meditation to underserved populations? Join Give Back Yoga at the Sedona Yoga Festival in February for a two-day Mindful Therapeutic Yoga Practices for Veterans pre-conference training that offers yoga teachers clinically-proven techniques to help students recover from trauma and emotional stress.


Lisa Wimberger on Serving First Responders

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with Neurosculpting® Institute founder Lisa Wimberger for The Huffington Post Blog on how mindfulness and meditation training is helping first responders to break the cycle of stress and trauma.

“Last year I got to train FBI, Secret Service, Homeland Security, and some military personnel. My sessions were standing-room-only. Afterwards, an emotional FBI agent told me that a few years back, he had lost his own son in the line of duty…he said that during the first meditation in my training, he found some relief from that pain for the first time.”

– Lisa Wimberger, on her work of bringing stress management techniques to law enforcement agents across the nation

Read Lisa’s full interview here.