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About Yoga Outreach

Expanding access to trauma-informed yoga programs - healing and connecting communities.

In 2016, Yoga Outreach provided 1000 volunteer-based trauma-informed yoga classes, reaching over 6,000 adults and youth recovering from trauma, mental health challenges, addictions, incarceration, and abuse.

 

Yoga Outreach partners with volunteer yoga instructors, community organizations, social service agencies, and correctional facilities to provide mindfulness-based yoga programming to often overlooked adults and at-risk youth. Yoga Outreach programs are strengths-based and trauma-informed, serving men, women, and youth facing challenges with mental health, addiction, poverty, violence, trauma, and imprisonment.

Many of our clients are accessing our partner facilities due to extensive trauma histories. Having been repeatedly traumatized, their bodies continue to live in an internal environment of trauma, and in turn, social isolation.

An essential aspect of recovering from trauma is re-establishing safety, both bodily and socially, and that can’t be done alone. Yoga Outreach has no centralized location; our programs reach individuals within facilities they are already accessing, providing a sense of community and peer connection.

What makes a Yoga Outreach class different from a regular yoga class, aside from the setting, is the emphasis of experiencing one’s body as one’s own. This is achieved through the use of invitation, choice, and inquiry, rather than direction and instruction.

 

We offer students an opportunity to develop safe and compassionate relationships with their bodies through mindful movement and breathing techniques, providing tools to draw from in order to self-regulate and manage daily circumstances.

Volunteering & Training for Yoga Teachers and Support Professionals
Yoga Outreach’s 40+ volunteers are qualified yoga instructors who are then further trained on how to deliver trauma-informed yoga classes through The Yoga Outreach Core TrainingTM. We also provide ongoing workshops, mentorship, and community building opportunities to yoga teachers and community support professionals.

Charitable Registration Number: 803544543RR0001

Reaching Out with Yoga Project - NEW!
Reaching Out With Yoga is a research project led by the BC Society of Transition Houses in partnership with Yoga Outreach, and funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It will explore the impact of trauma-informed yoga on the health and well-being of women and children who have experienced violence and are currently accessing Transition Houses across BC.

Get involved.

 How Yoga Outreach Started
Beth Sampson & Sandra Sammartino

In 1996, Annabelle Tame, from the Prison Phoenix Trust in England, spoke about teaching yoga within the prison system. Inspired by Annabelle’s talk and under the direction of Sandra Sammartino, a group of yoga teachers came together to bring yoga into the correctional systems within BC. Yoga Outreach programs quickly gained notoriety and it was not long before we had programs in mental health, addiction’s recovery, and women’s and youth groups. In its early years Yoga Outreach programs were taught by graduates of Sandra’s teacher’s training program.

In 2003, Sandra handed off the reigns of Yoga Outreach to Beth Sampson. It was Sandra and her students that planted the seeds, and in turn it has been Beth, that nurtured Yoga Outreach into maturity in her role as Executive Director and then stewarding Yoga Outreach as the Board President until retiring in 2014. 

Yoga Outreach has grown from this foundation, expanding to serve a diverse range of facilities. The love, commitment, and passion which began that project continues today.

Yoga Outreach became a registered Canadian charity in 2007. Today, our programs are taught by certified yoga teachers who have completed Yoga Outreach's Core Training in order to deliver trauma-informed yoga programs within social service settings.

 

 

volunteer yoga vancouver
“It’s inspiring to watch the clients see a program through and move onto next stage, progress, become empowered, centered and strong. To be in savasana without opening their eyes, fully relaxed and still, letting go. The women have become strong before my eyes, and its amazing to be a part of..." - Volunteer Instructor, Addictions Treatment Centre.