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

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.

Warriors For Healing Event Draws Yogis, Veterans

On June 28th, 2015, more than six hundred yogis from around the country joined us for the first live Warriors For Healing event at Yoga Journal LIVE! in San Diego. The inspirational 90-minute practice celebrated the service of veterans and raised awareness for the potential of helping warriors to heal from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress (PTS) through the healing science of yoga. The event was coordinated through Warriors For Healing, a foundation launched by teacher Bhava Ram that’s supported through the fiscal sponsorship of Give Back Yoga.

Welcoming dozens of veterans who came to practice alongside the yoga community, Mayor Casey Tanaka proclaimed it “Warriors for Healing Day” in the City of Coronado, where the Yoga Journal conference was held. Among those in attendance was Give Back Yoga’s Veterans’ Outreach Coordinator Anthony Scaletta, the leader of our Warriors For Healing crowdfunding campaign. With Anthony’s help, Give Back Yoga raised more than $8,250 to support our mission of yoga outreach to veterans.

We owe a debt a gratitude to each partner and community member who supported the Warrior For Healing event and crowdfunding campaign. With your help, we connected with many veterans who are benefitting from yoga, while inspiring a growing number of yogis to join us in practicing selfless service. View some of their stories on our Warriors For Healing video playlist.

Video spotlight: Warriors for Healing come together in San Diego.

Join us as a Warrior For Healing.

Yoga For Everyone: How Gaiam Is Kickstarting Yoga Classes For The Underserved

Your yoga mat is a safe place. A place to learn how to let go of tension and trauma, and connect with resilience, strength and inner peace. Now, thanks to our corporate sponsor Gaiam, the 11 yoga supply grant recipients pictured here can experience that for themselves.

In partnering with Give Back Yoga to underwrite our supply grant program, Gaiam has donated more than 1500 mats this year to help certified teachers across the country launch new classes for underserved populations — from veterans and first responders, to at-risk youth and those in recovery from addiction or eating disorders. This supply grant program serves as a kickstarter for yoga service projects of all kinds, making a big impact to our mission of sharing the therapeutic benefits of yoga with those who are most vulnerable.

Through this partnership, we’re also able to supply mats and props to students who graduate from one of our teacher trainings, helping them to establish Give Back Yoga programs like Eat Breathe Thrive, Mindful Yoga Therapy, Yoga for 12-Step Recovery and more in their own communities.

We’re honored to help Gaiam stand behind their philosophy of “Yoga for everyone,” by working together to share the gift of yoga with the world. It all begins on the mat…won’t you join us?

Learn more about our supply grant program.


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.

The State of Yoga Service: Looking Forward Through 2015

Author Rob Schware is the Executive Director of the Give Back Yoga Foundation and President of the Yoga Service Council. Each year, he issues a report on the state of yoga service — the work of bringing yoga to those who might otherwise never experience its transformational benefits. Read on for a look at what’s in store for 2015 and beyond, and a download link for this annual report.


A Vision for the Future: Voices From Our Yoga Service Community

In my Huffington Post blog series “Yoga: How We Serve,” a number of yoga teachers on the front lines of outreach to underserved and unserved populations have offered valuable answers to the question, “What are some of your ideas about, or hopes for, the future of ”service yoga“ in America?”

Here are some of the insights that are helping to shape the ongoing growth of yoga service:

“My hope is that yoga will be more readily received by unique communities such as Native Americans, and more recognized by health care organizations as a complementary healing modality to modern medicine.” — Christy Burnette, founder and Executive Director of Conscious Community Yoga Association, Inc.

“I would like to see more science, more data, and more randomized controlled studies. In my opinion we owe it to our clients/students and to our future funders (taxpayers and private citizens) to prove what works, and to recognize what doesn’t. We need to enter into the empirical domain, as difficult and as challenging as that is for yoga teachers like me!” — David Emerson, co-author of Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body

“The wounds of our veterans permeate all realms: physical, psychological, and spiritual…their needs are immediate. Our imperative is to assist these brave men and women with re-integration into the very culture they have fought hard to protect.  Training for war is intensive.  Training to return to their home lives is crucial.” — Ena Burrud, certified yoga therapist working with veterans in Colorado and Wyoming

“It is my hope that we will see a far greater awareness and participation by the yoga community in service programs. This might include a required ‘trauma and service’ module in the 200-hour training requirements and a consciousness of a service obligation by every studio and teacher.  The establishment of the Yoga Service Council and the yearly Yoga Service Conference is a great way to expand yoga service nationally and spread the word on opportunities and systems for yoga service.” — Bob Altman, Co-Founder of Centering Youth in Atlanta

“I see yoga being a staple in police and fire academies. I then see recruits expecting to see it on the schedule. Once they are on the job, it would be wonderful to continue to have classes offered to them on a weekly basis, or as seminars and continuing education opportunities. This could also happen at local gyms or studios. I’d like to see yoga as an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to training and caring for our ‘domestic soldiers.'” —  Olivia Kvitne, program director of Yoga for First Responders and Assistant Editor of LA Yoga Magazine

Others expressed hope that yogis will share this gift with special populations all around the world, and provide specialized yoga classes for people who find themselves at a homeless shelter, for people recovering from addiction, and for autistic children.

How Yoga Service Organizations Are Turning Vision Into Reality

How are we doing as a community to respond to these hopes? What new partnerships and entities, profit and non-profit, are stepping up to respond to the challenges?

In research:

The Prison Yoga Project, which started at San Quentin State Prison through the work of James Fox, is a shining example of a well-studied program by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), which showed this is a cost-effective means to help with addiction recovery and impulse control. The NCCD study found that a little mindfulness training through yoga can redirect attention, increase emotional self-control and anger management. Over 800 yoga teachers are now teaching yoga and meditation in over 75 prisons around the world.

In February, the Yoga Service Council and the Omega Institute will issue the first in a series of research reports on “Transforming Education Through Yoga.” This series was produced with research, input, and onsite collaboration from 23 leaders in the field of yoga and education.

In October, the Yoga Service Council and the Omega Institute will also host leaders in trauma-sensitive yoga for veterans to produce a second report in the series, “Yoga for Veterans.” Key researchers, including Sat Bhir Khalsa and Bessel van Der Kolk, have committed to participating. The objective of this Service Week for Veterans is to co-create common goals for our community, share insight, and produce resources that will serve veterans, VA hospital facilities, and yoga service providers, producing a peer- reviewed report of best practices.

In introducing yoga to first responders: 

In February, the first-ever Trauma-Sensitive Yoga and Resiliency Training to Benefit First Responders and Emergency Personnel will occur at the Sedona Yoga Festival – the first offering of a new Give Back Yoga program called Yoga for First Responders. Our police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and their families face behavioral health issues similar to those of combat soldiers, such as depression, PTS, anxiety, addictions, and suicides. The Sedona Yoga Festival/Give Back Yoga training aims to share skills and tools to help bring therapeutic yoga to at least 4,000 first responders nationwide.

In reaching diverse populations:

In May, social workers and yoga teachers will come together for a weekend at Omega Institute for the 4th Annual Yoga Service Conference to discuss how the yoga service movement can expand its work to support broader commitments to social justice. This includes addressing the “school-to-prison pipeline,” which channels thousands of low-income youth (particularly men of color) directly from failing schools into the criminal justice system. We will have compelling and direct conversations between social justice and contemplative practice in organizations — join me there!

In bringing yoga to Native Americans:

This year, Give Back Yoga is partnering with Conscious Community Yoga and the Sedona Yoga Festival to provide a DVD yoga resource for Native Americans, led by a Native American yoga teacher. The class will be structured for those new to yoga, and with potential health challenges kept in mind. Of primary concern are complications from diabetes, obesity, detox for drug and alcohol addictions.

In partnership with the corporate sector: 

 To reach our veterans with mindfulness practices, Gaiam and Give Back Yoga will commit to serve 100,000 veterans through mobile meditation apps.

Yoga Journal Live, Give Back Yoga and Warriors For Healing will host a special event on Sunday June 28, 2015 on the Windsor Lawn of the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, CA. This distinctive and compelling event, called Warriors For Healing, is designed to bring greater awareness of the therapeutic benefits of yoga for veterans facing PTS, and will offer veterans who are seeking healing a pathway toward new meaning and empowerment in life.

YogaGlo will support the Eat Breathe Thrive™ Facilitator Training course, providing facilitators with the knowledge, skills, and mentorship necessary to lead a yoga-based program for people struggling with disordered eating and negative body image. Nearly 80% of adult women feel dissatisfied with their bodies, and three out of four report struggling with disordered eating. The rates of body dissatisfaction among men have increased from 15% to 43% over the past three decades, and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

New Growth for Yoga Service in 2015

As we partner with our program directors, our Advisory Board Members and influential yoga teachers to bring this powerful practice to the world, one person at a time, we are fostering new growth in several areas.

Bringing yoga to the West Bank: 

This year, Give Back Yoga is partnering with the Farashe Yoga Center in Ramallah, 7 Centers Yoga Arts and American yoga pioneer Rama Vernon on a new global initiative to expand and harness the power of yoga in the West Bank and Gaza, supporting Palestinians’ exploration and use of yoga in everyday life.

In May, lead teachers from these organizations will travel with Rama Vernon to the West Bank and work in partnership with Farashe Yoga Center to train up to twenty teachers. Following the training, these new teachers will introduce yoga to area residents through work in urban refugee camps, schools, hospitals, and other venues.

 Yoga is largely unknown among Palestinians. But over the past two years, more Palestinians — women in particular — have embraced the discipline as a way of coping with their daily stresses of the prolonged conflict, including commuting through military checkpoints, unstable employment, restrictions on movement and access, and political unrest.

This initiative to foster yoga as a practice of peace in the West Bank will continue to grow in 2016, as Give Back Yoga and our partners host the first international yoga conference in the West Bank. Led by world-renowned yoga teachers, Palestine-based yoga teachers and practitioners will have access to hands-on workshops that will enable them to develop effective yoga programming for their students. Following the conference, there will be a one-week service opportunity for newly trained teachers to apply these principles in their lives and in the community.

Bringing yoga into more prisons:

Based on continuing growth trends, we anticipate a growing demand from prison wardens who want more trained yoga teachers working in more prisons; and want specific programs for incarcerated veterans, for the staff and officers, and increased support for restorative justice programs.

Influencing climate change:

This year, leading yoga teachers, environmental and sustainable development experts, and atmospheric scientists will be discussing “Yoga, Personal Transformation and Global Sustainability.” What does yoga have to do with global sustainability? What are we all doing to reduce your individual carbon footprint? We need to raise our consciousness of how the yoga movement can meet the climate crisis, and work to help solve what is far and away the greatest challenge of our time. There’s more and more interest in this educational process, beginning with the recent article, “Yoga, Personal Transformation, and Global Sustainability.”

Join the Yoga Service Movement

There’s a lot of work ahead of us. But eventually, we’re confident that we’ll see tens of thousands of yoga teachers and yoga therapists leaving their studios and sharing down-to-earth yoga tools with un-served and underserved communities.

As an organization, one of Give Back Yoga’s key purposes is to serve as a gateway for yoga service. If you’d like to be a part of this movement for grassroots social change and healing, we invite you to visit us on the web, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our monthly newsletters.

Here’s to a bold, transformative, and prosperous New Year to you all!

Images courtesy of Robert Sturman, Prison Yoga Project, Yoga For First Responders, Farashe Yoga Center and Niroga Institute.


Download the annual report The State of Yoga Service: Looking Forward Through 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.