A list of relevant yoga resources including information about various yoga service organizations, links to free instructional online yoga videos, a listing of affordable yoga classes in NYC, and teachers that have personally inspired my practice.
Yoga is the practice of coming home. It enables you to become more aware of all things. It enables you to find the spaces and to be with the spaces. It brings you back to the breath. It reminds you to breathe. Yoga engenders awareness of your inner experience. It brings attention to the things that have been in hiding, to those aspects of yourself that have been concealed. It takes you to the dark places, and to the pain. Yoga provides the strength, safety, and balance to embrace the pain. It takes you to your sadness. It gives you the courage to cry. It helps you discover your fears and to become aware of the patterns that keep you stuck. It allows you to express yourself. It works to still the mind, and it can bring you to a place of stillness, of levity, of life worth living. It helps you discover your inner joy and freedom. It enables you to listen to your heart and lessens the voices when the mind-stuff is too loud and chaotic. Yoga clears space in the body. It helps you to acknowledge the truth and makes it more difficult to lie to yourself. It brings a greater sense of purpose and a reason for living. It brings peace. It brings love. It brings tears. Yoga is Awareness. Yoga is Balance. Yoga is Centered. Yoga is Clarity. Yoga is Courage. Yoga is Flexibility. Yoga is Heart. Yoga is Joy. Yoga is Love. Yoga is Truth.
- Erica Saccente, 2012, personal definition of Yoga
Free Yoga Classes in NYC
Yoga classes can be costly, especially when living on a fixed-income. Fortunately, there are free and donation-based classes in NYC accessible to all. (Note that some classes may be less appropriate for beginners.) Here is a current listing (see individual websites for location and class schedule):
Yoga for Vets NYC - Free yoga classes for Veterans at Integral Yoga Institute.
Yoga To The People - Donation-based yoga classes ($10 suggested donation) at their East Village/St. Mark's location.
YogaWorks - Free class, Fundamentals of Yoga, taught once a week at their Westside Studio.
Upper West Side Yoga And Wellness - Donation-based class, Open Level Community Class, offered once a week.
NYC Department of Parks & Recreation - Offers free yoga classes through the Shape Up NYC Program. Scroll through the extensive listing of fitness classes, in each of the Borough's, to find a convenient yoga class for you.
Yoga for Mental Wellness - A community service project of The Breathing Project, that offers free yoga classes for adults with emotional distress or mental illness. Classes are offered two times a week throughout the year.
Urban Yoga Foundation - A non-profit organization that utilizes yoga and other holistic approaches to promote health. Some of their classes are free; see the Upcoming Events section for dates and locations.
Harlem Yoga Studio - A studio in Harlem that offers community classes for adult yoga, prenatal yoga, and yoga in Spanish (suggested $6 donation). Check out the website for the address, class schedule, and other information, including their community partnerships and workshops.
The Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York - Free classes offered to people with HIV (Fridays from 12-1:30pm at the Manhattan studio, and Mondays from 2-3:30pm at the Brooklyn studio) and another to Veterans (Saturdays from 12-1:30pm at the Manhattan studio). See website for further details and studio location.
Free Online Yoga Videos
Online Educational Resources
Embodied Philosophy - A website that offers a multitude of resources relating to Eastern philosophies like yoga and Buddhism, including online videos, podcasts, writings, workshops, retreats, and trainings.
Yoga Service Resources
There is so much amazing work being done in the world bringing yoga to those in need. It is exciting to know that there are many teachers sharing their knowledge of yoga and many students benefiting from the practices. Listed below are some of the organizations that I am aware of, that share yoga and mindfulness to various populations in need. Their work is inspirational, and I highly suggest checking out the sites if you are a teacher interested in serving specific populations, or if you can relate to any of these populations served - there are a plethora of resources within each of these organizations. Thanks for dedicating your time and effort to making the world a better place!
Liberation Prison Yoga - An organization founded by Anneke Lucas, who was inspired by her own traumatic childhood of being sold by her mother to a pedophile ring led by powerful politicians and aristocrats in her native Belgium, and her path of healing, which involved the practice of yoga. Their mission is "to serve prisons and jails, bringing trauma-conscious yoga programs to incarcerated women, men, youth, staff, and those whose lives are affected by incarceration; to train yoga instructors to work inside the prison system; and to educate the public about trauma-conscious yoga".
Street Yoga - A non-profit organization that brings yoga and mindfulness to youth experiencing life challenges.
Give Back Yoga Foundation - A non-profit organization that supports and funds certified yoga teachers to offer yoga to under-served populations.
Prison Yoga Project - A non-profit organization bringing yoga and mindfulness to incarcerated individuals. Includes classes at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York City.
Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans - A non-profit organization serving Veterans through yoga and education.
Yoga For Eating Disorders - A program that utilizes yoga in the treatment of eating disorders. Chelsea Roff is the founder and director of this organization, which is partnered with the Give Back Yoga Foundation.
Yoga Service Council - A community of professional support for those offering yoga service to underserved and vulnerable populations.
Lineage Project - An organization that offers yoga and meditation to at-risk youth in New York City.
Ashtanga Yoga Outreach - An organization providing free yoga classes to a variety of at-risk communities in New York City, including those with developmental disabilities, autism, and various medical conditions.
Akasha Project - An organization in New York City that brings yoga and meditation to under-served communities through their partnerships with a variety of organizations.
Yoga Activist - A non-profit organization that helps connect yoga teachers interested in yoga outreach with social service organizations interested in offering yoga programming. This is a great resource if you are a yoga teacher interested in service work, or an organization trying to start a yoga program. They even have a mat program, in which one can donate new and gently used yoga mats and props, which are in turn distributed to yoga programs in need. They have some other great resources on their website, including an extensive directory of yoga outreach programs.
Exhale to Inhale - A non-profit organization based in NYC that serves survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through the practice of yoga. The website includes information about domestic violence, sexual assault, and trauma.
Ashrams for Autism - An organziation in New Jersey that brings yoga to Autism.
Living Yoga - A non-profit outreach program that teaches yoga in prisons, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, transitional facilities, and to other underserved populations, with the intention of supporting positive change. The program is based in Portland, Oregon.
Yoga teachers and therapists are well aware of the potential impact of utilizing yoga to promote health and treat dis-ease. Listed below are some relevant resources:
Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy - A specialized type of yoga therapy that incorporates physical practices of yoga and dialogue with the therapist to facilitate self-exploration, awareness of the present moment, and healing.
International Association of Yoga Therapists - A professional organization for yoga teachers and yoga therapists that supports yoga research and education, in an effort to make yoga a recognized and respected treatment modality.
Sacred Centers - A teaching organization founded by Anodea Judith, a writer, spiritual teacher, and therapist who focuses on the integration of mind, body, and spirit, and is well known for her work regarding the chakras.
Prema Yoga Therapeutics - Prema Yoga Therapy offers holistic yoga instruction to assist with healing. In addition to private sessions, they also offer continuing education to medical professionals so that evidence-based yoga techniques can be used in the field.
I express sincere gratitude to the teachers that introduced me to yoga, guided me along my path, and have served as a continual inspiration during my journey.
Paula Lynch Liberis