Winning a Scholarship to Omega!

Friday I was graced with the greatest news of the season . . .

I’m going to Omega’s Yoga Service Conference: Bringing Mindful Yoga to Underserved Communities!   In addition, I’ll be appointed to the Yoga Service Council as an official member.


Check out all the goodness, training me to better serve my community . . .

Omega Institute and the Yoga Service Council are pleased to present the second annual Yoga Service Conference. The Yoga Service Council was formed at Omega in 2009 by a group of organizations bringing yoga to underserved populations. As membership of the council has grown, so has their desire to inspire more people to serve and empower their communities through yoga and mindfulness.

We’re honored to offer this unique and intimate opportunity to forge relationships, build skills, and draw inspiration from leading teachers who work with tens of thousands of people in underserved communities every day, including trauma survivors, incarcerated adults and teens, at-risk children, cancer survivors, the elderly, and domestic violence survivors.

With their expert guidance, we explore the benefits and challenges of introducing yoga and mindfulness practices to the underserved and gain tools to work with specific populations. We also address issues of diversity and cultural awareness, talk about getting yoga service projects started and funded, and learn how to conduct research on our work.

Anyone interested in working to create strong, engaged, and resilient communities is welcome. You do not need to be a yoga teacher, or even a yoga practitioner to benefit from this conference. Social workers, school teachers, health-care providers, yoga teachers, and all others interested in exploring the possibility of bringing yoga and mindfulness to underserved populations are invited to attend.


FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2013

6:00 p.m.–7:15 p.m.

8:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.

Jennifer Cohen Harper

8:30 p.m.–10:00 p.m.
Opening Keynote

Beryl Bender Birch


7:00 a.m.–8:00 a.m.
Yoga Practice in Lake Theater
Roxanne “Nikki” Myers

7:00 a.m.–8:45 a.m.

9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Strengthening Compassion

Kelly McGonigal

Teachers, caregivers, volunteers, health-care providers, and others in the helping professions know that compassion is their greatest strength, but they can also feel overwhelmed by compassion fatigue. No matter how much compassion we feel for others, the practice of self-compassion is often a struggle. Learn the latest science of what strong and sustainable compassion is (and is not), how to avoid burnout, and how to cultivate self-compassion. These ideas and tools can support you in your own work serving others and become skills you can share with those dealing with health issues, trauma, anxiety, depression, addiction, and other life challenges.

10:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m.

These workshops are unique introductions to the yoga and mindfulness practices that best support specific populations. Taught by some of the country’s leading instructors, you gain practical tools for teaching, as well as a deeper understanding of the challenges these communities are facing. Please choose one workshop.

The Issues Live in the Tissues: Addiction Recovery, Trauma Healing & Yoga
Roxanne “Nikki” Myers

As many as one in three Americans suffer from some type of addiction disorder. A multifaceted disease with many forms—including alcohol, illegal and prescription drugs, eating disorders, compulsive spending, gambling, exercise, sex, love, porn, and more—addiction causes social, psychological, and physical harm. It affects people of all ages, backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses, and it is very much present in the yoga community. An equal opportunity destroyer, addiction affects not only the addict, but it also causes damage to families, friends, and society as a whole. This presentation, which includes an experiential practice, explores the truth behind addiction. It presents a rich, powerful framework for inquiry and explores daily practices to enhance physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Working With High-Risk Youth
Ali Smith
Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez

The Holistic Life Foundation (HLF) has been teaching yoga to high-risk youth for more than a decade, focusing their efforts in the many underserved communities in the city of Baltimore. The cofounders, brothers Ali Smith and Atman Smith and their college friend Andres Gonzalez, have developed their own unique blend of various yoga styles to best serve the youth population. In this workshop, we explore making yoga accessible and practical for high-risk youth, and we cover practices, teaching philosophies, youth engagement, and many other topics.

Building a Sustainable Wellness Toolkit
Claire Campbell

To give oneself in service to others can be risky business. While many of us are driven by our life’s purpose to remain open to the suffering of others, this stance can simultaneously leave us depleted and at risk. Unidentified stress, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma can, and often does, impact our entire system, including our struggle to live life in the present moment. This experiential workshop helps participants identify varied tools that support a sustained path to personal wellness through the use of expressive therapies, yoga, breathwork, and sensory integration. This workshop supports the “helper” to create an object of mindfulness that can be used to support future, ongoing self-care, and create new pathways for embodying a sustained change.

Sequencing Theory for Yoga Service
Jasmine Chehrazi

Discover how employing sound sequencing techniques in outreach/service settings can inspire students to come back to your class and connect even more deeply with yoga beyond class time. This hands-on workshop explores general sequencing theory and theme concepts according to a variety of perspectives and traditions, including yoga therapy and trauma-sensitive yoga. This workshop features interactive, hands-on sequencing exercises that leave you feeling prepared and experienced to share yoga more effectively with a variety of communities.

So You Want to Do Research
Kelly McGonigal

In this session, take a hands-on, do-it-yourself approach to research. Learn how to put together a plan to launch your own research project—one that can be done with resources you already have. Brainstorm and strategize on what kind of data you are after, how to collect it, and what you can do with it once you have it.

12:45 p.m.–1:45 p.m.
Lunch Table Discussions

Join organization leaders at lunchtime for lively conversations around topics relevant to the yoga service community.


2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.
Meditation Talk & Practice: Lovingkindness
Sharon Salzberg
Lovingkindness is a meditation that cultivates our natural capacity for an open and loving heart. It is traditionally offered with meditations that enrich compassion and joy in the happiness of others, and also deepen our own sense of peace. These practices lead to the development of concentration, connection, fearlessness, and genuine happiness. Sharon Salzberg introduces these teachings and supports us in our own experience and cultivation of these qualities through direct instruction and guided meditation using classical techniques in a modern idiom. There will also be opportunities for questions. This workshop is suitable for both new and experienced meditators.
3:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Please choose one workshop.
Yoga for Cancer Survivors
Tari Prinster

Research increasingly acknowledges yoga as beneficial to cancer patients. Western medical institutions now encourage yoga as part of a wellness/alternative healing programs. Rarely is there explanation of how yoga works, why the benefits are unique, and what kind of yoga is best. In this workshop, we explore the science behind yoga; concerns of cancer survivors; cautions for teaching yoga to the special needs of cancer survivors; and, most importantly, yoga poses that facilitate recovery and prevention, as well as yoga poses to avoid. We also learn compassion balanced with knowledge and a proven methodology that inspires hope and gives emotional support through safe, healing yoga.
Mindfulness-Based Elder Care (MBEC)
Lucia McBee

Western medicine has extended the quantity of our life expectancy, but physical and cognitive frailty, chronic pain, and stress continue to diminish quality of life for many elders. Professional and family caregivers working with frail elders may also struggle with feelings of helplessness and discomfort in the presence of illness and despair. Mindfulness-Based Elder Care (MBEC) is a program that has modified the skills of yoga and mindfulness-based interventions for elders with physical and cognitive disabilities, and their caregivers. Underneath the skills, the path of MBEC and mindful yoga embraces rather than confronts the challenges of chronic illness, pain, and loss. In this workshop, we explore the practices that are adapted at the intersection of our knowledge about elders and the essence of yoga and mindfulness, and how they can be used to assist in elder care.
Sustainable Yoga Service
Rob Schware
Bidyut “B.K.” Bose, and Meghann Beer
This workshop is intended for individuals and groups interested in starting, sustaining, or scaling yoga service efforts on a stable foundation. From individual and small group efforts all the way to nonprofits serving thousands of people every week, we discuss the ways in which each of us can serve most effectively through yoga, even as we survive and thrive. Bidyut “B.K.” Bose, founder and director of the Niroga Institute, addresses programmatic scaling issues in education, health care, and violence prevention, including direct service provision, training, research, policy, and advocacy. Meghann Beer, a professional nonprofit consultant who has worked with the Africa Yoga Project to create and run the Seva Safari program, explores the nitty-gritty issues of starting a service organization and growing it from a start-up to a formalized structure. Rob Schware, founder and executive director of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, discusses approaches to fundraising and the importance of product development and leveraging the Internet to distribute products for awareness raising and revenue generation. Come find out how to make your organization less vulnerable.
Foundations of Yoga Service: Practice
Jill Satterfield

Serving others is an act of compassion, and compassion includes oneself, as well as others, because ultimately there is no separation between the two. Keeping our inner perspective wide and tender enough to help ourselves so we might better help others is what practice is about. By taking kind and compassionate care of ourselves, we meet others where they are by directly experiencing interdependence. How might we self-prescribe a practice that is both for our present moment, and rewarding and personal? In this workshop, we explore how to take our own pulse, know what we need, and design a practice that is interesting, fresh, and provides self-care. Creating a daily practice of meditation, breathing, and yoga postures helps us to maintain space in heart and mind, keeps us in the present, deepens our understanding of ourselves, nurtures our basic sanity, heightens our ability to be kind, and facilitates the mental and physical stamina to be doing our work in the world.
An Introduction to Yoga-Based Mindfulness Programs for Women Trauma Survivors
Sue Jones

Recent studies show that early childhood trauma and adverse childhood environments are at the root of avoidance dysfunction and the adoption of health-risk behaviors such as addiction, eating disorders, obesity, self-cutting, dissociation, and propensity toward suicide. Sue Jones, founder of yogaHOPE, leads us in an exploration of integrated mindfulness treatments for women trauma survivors that are gender responsive and trauma informed. We gain a basic understanding of the neurology behind early traumas and health risk behaviors, and discover what elements define a gender responsive program. We also learn what it means to be trauma informed, and how integrated mindfulness practices work to help trauma survivors develop healthy coping mechanisms when experiencing a stressor.


6:00 p.m.–7:15 p.m.

7:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
Yoga Service Poster Sessions

Join us for an opportunity to learn from and network with conference participants and faculty. Yoga service organizations and community members will be present with materials to share, and representatives will be available to answer questions and offer support.

SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2013

7:00 a.m.–8:45 a.m.

8:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Yoga, Neurobiology & Trauma

Bessel van der Kolk

The body is one of the arenas in which the memory of trauma is re-enacted. Traditional Western psychotherapy has approached the resolution of trauma as something that needs to be understood, worked through, and put into the larger perspective of one’s life. In the wake of the emerging knowledge of the neurobiology of trauma, this workshop presents the theoretical underpinnings of how pranayama, asanas, and meditation can change core neurobiological, trauma-related deficits.

10:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
Panel Discussion: Diversity & Cultural Awareness
Bidyut “B.K.” Bose
Participate in a lively discussion around issues of diversity within the yoga service community and the relevance of cultural awareness and sensitivity.

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Closing: Community Connections
Yoga Service Council Board
12:30 p.m.–1:45 p.m.
Lunch & Departure

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