Rika Lange on Volunteering with Justice Involved Youth

Apr. 20, 2018

How did you get involved with yoga outreach?
It was through a friend who was volunteering with Yoga Outreach after taking the core training. I had just completed my teacher training and wanted to volunteer with Yoga Outreach.

 

What were your thoughts of the Core Training?
It was outstanding …one of the best trainings that I have done. The space that Nicole created to learn in was amazing, and the information taught made sense; it really applies to so many situations.

 

What was your first impression of Yoga Outreach?
My first impression of Yoga Outreach was through the Core Training, and that was phenomenal.

The support I received as a volunteer with Niki was amazing. At the time I began volunteering I was working full-time and found most of the need for volunteers was during the day. There were evening classes with youth, but I was hesitant because I thought the students might prefer to work with someone younger. Niki encouraged me to give it a try, and I did. The Red Fox Program with youth was my first program with Yoga Outreach.

One of my first memories of the classes with youth was to experience the stillness of Savasana and the energy created between myself and the students. It was heartwarming to see them be perfectly comfortable, still and at ease with themselves.

 

What do you wish other people knew about Yoga Outreach?
How amazing the Core Training is; it will serve you well!
Volunteers are well supported , and the work that you will do is very rewarding.

You learn a lot from it. For example: I was working with youth (involved with the justice system) in another program and as usual I asked students what they want to do tonight (in terms of active relaxing). One student said that they had a court appearance the next day and that they needed to settle themselves for it, and that they would like to do something like meditation. To see the self awareness that these youth carry, and their capacity to know what they need is remarkable.
It also continues to teach me the potency of the practice.

 

What would you say is your strongest belief about the work that you do with Yoga Outreach?
That there is a basic goodness in everyone. For whatever reason, these kids have ended up where they are, and I want society to give these kids every opportunity to be successful. This is my way to support them. These children could be anybody’s – our nieces, nephews, neighbours.

This is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things that I do, and it reminds me to be adaptable. Classes don’t always go as planned and sometimes I only get two students in a class and they are done in 20 minutes, and at other times they aren’t ready to go after an hour, and they share aspects of their experience with me in conversation.

 

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering or donating to Yoga Outreach?
Yoga Outreach is one of the most worthwhile organizations to give to whether that is financially, volunteering or some other way. Yoga Outreach is the little engine that could – it’s a small organization that does meaningful work. And, once you are part of the family, you are always part of the family.

Our Board Chair On Volunteering with Yoga Outreach

Apr. 18, 2018

Tell me how you first got involved in with YO?

I can’t believe it’s been 10 year since I first got involved in YO! In 2007, I was a a brand new baby lawyer and about to start working with marginalized clients in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. I was also a pretty devoted yoga practitioner and wanted to explore how I could combine these two things that were so important to me. I’m pretty sure I actually googled “yoga” and “outreach” – or maybe it was “yoga” and “prisons” – and I found Yoga Outreach. I was so excited that there was an organization  working to share the benefits of yoga with people who faced barriers to access, and I knew immediately that I wanted to get involved.



What was your first impression of YO?

At that time, Yoga Outreach was like a little engine that could. Tiny staff, a handful of programs, not much profile in the community… In a lot of ways it still is a little engine that could, but it’s been amazing to watch the organization grow as its gained credibility and a reputation for doing great work.


What’s your most moving experience Volunteering as a Yoga Teacher with YO?

I have the privilege of teaching some students their very first ever yoga class. People who come to my classes are in treatment for addiction issues, so they’re already dealing with a lot. I know that a yoga class can be an intimidating experience for some people, so I aim to make the environment in my classes feel really friendly, relaxed and open. My most satisfying experiences have been having new students come in seeming a little overwhelmed and watching as their faces and bodies soften and relax as the class progresses, and as the postures and breathing have their effect. It’s neat to watch people experience awakenings about what their bodies can do, the strength they hold, and the calm and clarity that can come from something as simple as sitting still and breathing deep. For me, that’s what it’s all about.



What impact do you think volunteering with YO has on the community, if any?

Right now, I’m most excited about YO’s partnership with the BC Society of Transition Houses, which is allowing us to expand our yoga trainings and programs all across the province, and to work with women and children fleeing violence. Separating from an abusive spouse has to be one of the most difficult, stressful, emotional and vulnerable things a woman will ever have to do. I’m so proud and happy that YO is able to offer women a brief respite from what they’re dealing with – an opportunity to feel good and be safe in their bodies and feel supported in relationship with others. If it makes her journey even just a little bit easier, that’s everything.



What do you wish other people knew about YO?

One thing I wish people knew about YO is that just because all the teachers are volunteers and the classes are free doesn’t mean we don’t need to fundraise! We’ve got incredible staff who develop curricula, deliver trainings, coordinate programs, support volunteers and so much more, and they need to be compensated! So I hope people know how easy it is to become a monthly donor, and how much of a difference their generosity and support make.



What would you share with someone who was thinking about volunteering with YO?

I’d also want folks to know that there are lots of ways to get involved! You can volunteer to teach a class, you can spread the word about our work, you can help with fundraising, you can donate the proceeds from one of your own private classes or workshops to Yoga Outreach…there are so many possibilities. It’s a fantastic organization to work with.



What are you doing when you aren’t volunteering with YO?

In my day job, I’m a human rights lawyer at the Community Legal Assistance Society. I help people who’ve experienced discrimination pursue their cases at the BC Human Rights Tribunal. You might also find me riding around town on my bicycle, hiking in the hills, or digging in the dirt in my vegetable garden.

Lori’s Story

Dec. 20, 2017

I’ve always had a zest for life. I love exploring, learning and engaging with people, and I have always had an open heart; I was the kid in school that all the teachers put the new student next to.

 

And in all my capacity for love of self and others, I struggled. For many years, I couldn’t put a name to it, but as I got older and learned more, I realized that I was dealing with complex childhood trauma. Despite being a loving mother, wife, daughter, and friend, there was always something stirring just beneath the surface and I coped the best I could.  

 

Most of my life I was in a place where I was doing well, but I always seemed to hit a wall. Something would happen in life that triggered me and then I would relapse.  

 

In 2013, I was still working, and was highly functional but I knew I couldn’t sustain it. I was dealing with a lot in my life and felt like things were really starting to bubble up. I decided to start counselling, and that is when I began to unravel. I couldn’t work, my addiction became stronger and I knew deep down something was about to change.

 

With my family’s support, I asked to go to treatment. I knew I needed to take time for myself, without any responsibilities or distractions so that I could heal. At the treatment facility, yoga was a mandatory part of the programming. This is when I first encountered Yoga Outreach.

 

The yoga classes landed with me right away. The teacher was so skillful in guiding everyone to just be as they were,  regardless of what that looked like. We had the option of sitting in a chair, lying on the floor, or standing at the door if we    wanted.  

 

Everything was an invitation, there was so much choice, and there were no expectations of what it was supposed to look like. I remember connecting with the sensations in my body and feeling excited to practice.  

 

Every morning I would get up at 6am and practice alone in a little room on the second floor of the recovery centre (and I am not a morning person). It just felt so good to get up early and practice what I had learned. The time I had to tune into myself was so special, and I became so dedicated to myself

 

Recovery is a long process. There are many layers, and for me, yoga was the key because it took me out of my head and allowed me to be my body. It helped me manage stress, stay present, and sleep better.

 

Because of yoga, I am aware of triggers in my body as they happen, and I can now take a deep breath, step back and respond to situations, rather than react. I am able stay present and take care of myself.

 

I have come to accept and love all of myself completely.  And learning to accept both the darkness and light within myself from a place of love, has allowed me to connect with others, in all conditions, from a place of total acceptance.

 

I am looking forward to bringing the same kind of yoga programming here to my community, and thanks to people like the staff at Yoga Outreach I have been inspired to take trauma-informed yoga training. 

 

A seed was planted with Yoga Outreach that has grown into a tree, and it continues to grow. The branches have spread up and out and the roots have grown deep. It has been a beautiful experience that has touched something so deep in me.  

 

Of course, life has its challenges, but yoga has taught me that I don’t need to escape. Instead, I can be present with what’s here, even if I don’t like it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga Outreach’s 2016-2017 Annual Report

Dec. 05, 2017

To download our annual report, simply click on the link.  Annual Report 2016 – 2017

Could trauma-informed yoga benefit drug treatment for youth?

Jul. 19, 2017

Yoga Outreach has been providing trauma-informed yoga classes to justice-involved and at-risk youth for 18 years.

 

Based on the empirical studies that have established trauma-informed yoga as an evidence-based treatment intervention, and the observations of Yoga Outreach teachers, Yoga Outreach submitted a proposal to the Department of Justice to examine the efficacy of trauma-based yoga, and similar mindfulness-based stress reduction programs, as a promising adjunctive treatment intervention for justice involved youth receiving treatment for substance use disorders.

 

This study examines published studies and “grey literature” on both the standard substance use treatment models as well as a small, but growing body of empirical studies investigating the efficacy of trauma-based complementary programs. The literature review also considers the need for gender-responsive and culturally-responsive treatment models that more specifically address the unique needs of female young offenders and Aboriginal young offenders.

What does it mean to hold space?

Jul. 07, 2017

Yoga Outreach has been providing trauma-informed yoga classes to justice-involved and at-risk youth for 18 years.

 

Based on the empirical studies that have established trauma-informed yoga as an evidence-based treatment intervention, and the observations of Yoga Outreach teachers, Yoga Outreach submitted a proposal to the Department of Justice to examine the efficacy of trauma-based yoga, and similar mindfulness-based stress reduction programs, as a promising adjunctive treatment intervention for justice involved youth receiving treatment for substance use disorders.

 

This study examines published studies and “grey literature” on both the standard substance use treatment models as well as a small, but growing body of empirical studies investigating the efficacy of trauma-based complementary programs. The literature review also considers the need for gender-responsive and culturally-responsive treatment models that more specifically address the unique needs of female young offenders and Aboriginal young offenders.

Yoga Outreach to provide trauma-sensitive yoga to women and children fleeing abuse across BC

Jul. 31, 2016

Yoga Outreach and BC Society of Transition Houses launching 5-year  research project called “Reaching Out with Yoga”  funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada that will provide trauma-sensitive yoga programming for women and children in transition houses across BC.

 

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (March 30, 2016) – Domestic violence affects many women and children in BC. Programs that complement Transition House services, such as Reaching Out With Yoga, are an important part of supporting families as they leave their lives behind, and try to start over.

 

Yoga Outreach is non-profit that has been providing weekly yoga programs in various social service facilities, including mental health, addictions, youth centres, prisons, and older adult rehabilitation, for twenty years.

 

“This year marks our 20th anniversary, and Reaching Out with Yoga is huge step towards our goal of removing barriers of access to yoga, and providing community connection to our most vulnerable individuals” says Delanie Dyck, Yoga Outreach’s Executive Director.

 

New Dawn, a facility for women recovering from addictions and violence, has already been receiving Yoga Outreach’s weekly classes since 2005.

 

“It helps our women with symptoms of withdrawal, anxiety, depression, and allows a gentle re-connection to the breath, heart, and mind. It allows for them to feel empowered, and heal.”

 

Yoga Outreach has been providing yoga programs to Burnaby Youth Custody Centre since 1998, and teens have responded positively.

 

“It puts me in a calmer state so I can think more clearly” and “it makes me feel good about myself.”

 

Which is exactly what Yoga Outreach and the BC Society of Transition Houses aims to achieve.

 

Transition and Second Stage House services across BC are the critical safety net for women fleeing violent relationships. Through these programs women and children are able to find the support and safety needed to get back on their feet.

 

Yoga Outreach trains all of their volunteer yoga instructors in trauma-informed teaching approaches in order to provide strengths focused classes for people facing multiple barriers, including addictions, mental health, PTSD, and incarceration. If you would like to be involved, contact Delanie Dyck at Delanie@yogaoutreach.com or 604.385.3891 or visit www.yogaoutreach.com.

 

Media Contact: Delanie Dyck, Executive Director, Yoga Outreach, 604.385.3891

Podcast – Dr. Joanne Baker Executive Director

Jul. 09, 2016

We are super thrilled to have an interview with our ROWY program partner! Dr. Joanne baker, Executive Director fro the BC Society of Transition Houses discusses the research aspects of this project bring yoga to women and children fleeing violence in BC.

 

Listen HERE

 

For more information please visit BC Society of Transition Houses