From Student to Volunteer Yoga Teacher


in 2013, poet and artist, Alexandra R. LaFlam stayed at Pacifica Treatment Centre to overcome an addiction fuelled by grief and trauma. While there, she found the Yoga Outreach classes so helpful that she decided to train as a Yoga teacher. In 2017, LaFlam returned to Pacifica as a Yoga Outreach volunteer, sharing mindfulness practices with others recovering from addictions.   Following is an excerpt from Scattered Lights in the Darkness, LaFlam’s autobiographical book of poems about losing her father, surviving as an addict, and the first months of living sober.   Alexandra R. LaFlam's poetry about grief, addiction and recovery. [...]

From Student to Volunteer Yoga Teacher2022-02-08T20:48:10+00:00

Cedar weaving can embody healing for West Coast First Nations


Cedar weaving can embody healing for West Coast First Nations “My family has been deeply impacted by colonization,” explains Avis O’Brien of her formative years in Alert Bay, home of the ‘Namgis People, off the coast of Vancouver Island. With her Irish father and Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw mother, O’Brien lived on the “white side of town”. Unfortunately, she associated being Indigenous with all of the negative stereotypes that are so prevalent in Canada. “I had so much shame associated with my identity that I didn’t want any part in it. I was not raised with culture or [...]

Cedar weaving can embody healing for West Coast First Nations2021-09-02T18:52:44+00:00

Do grouchy, judgemental smokers belong at yoga? Yes!


Q and A with Julie Peters In preparation for Yoga Outreach's first conference (May 25), we asked the scheduled panelists what turns people OFF about yoga. Here's a thoughtful response from Julie Peters, yoga teacher, writer, and owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga studio in East Vancouver. YO: Can you smoke, drink, or eat McDonald’s, and still claim to practise yoga? JP: Food and substances aren’t good or evil; the important thing to consider is why we are consuming them. Lately, I’ve been working a lot with the differences between desire and craving, pleasure and distraction. True desires move us [...]

Do grouchy, judgemental smokers belong at yoga? Yes!2019-03-11T18:49:16+00:00

Can yoga help teens with trauma beat addictions and stay out of jail?


Imagine lacking the ability to self-regulate in a place where you are denied a privilege every time you break a rule. And your usual coping methods - drugs or alcohol - are gone, cold turkey. This is the story for many teens with substance issues when they are incarcerated. Why? Trauma. When kids grow up with abuse, significant poverty, neglect, violence or other dangers, coping strategies are limited to survival mode. This means they’re at a severe disadvantage when trying to overcome addictions or avoid conflict with the law. Yoga Outreach conducted a review of trauma studies and found that three [...]

Can yoga help teens with trauma beat addictions and stay out of jail?2019-02-07T10:07:40+00:00

Yes. Volunteering makes you better.


  According to Statistics Canada, 12.7 million Canadians, are happier and healthier than the rest. They also have better career prospects and an extremely high chance of captaining a pub quiz team over age 90. Why? Because they spend a few hours a month volunteering.   Volunteering makes you stronger.    If you’re like many with a sedentary day job, you’ll struggle more with ailments like painful posture, weaker bones, and higher blood pressure as years go on.   But not if you volunteer. Sorting hampers at a food bank or taking seniors to appointments gets your blood pumping and keeps [...]

Yes. Volunteering makes you better.2019-01-07T17:28:53+00:00

Yoga in your Socks


By Wendy Goldsmith In teacher training, we learned yoga MUST be done barefoot. What if your student split in half doing wide-legged forward fold on your watch? Yikes. Plus, they can’t draw energy up from the earth through a barrier of cotton-acrylic blend. With the exception of savasana, socks are a no-no in the studio.   But when I started teaching in social service settings, my students were often low-income or newcomers to Canada. I discovered nobody was taking off their socks. I tried to lead by example, worrying aloud about danger, talking about the foundational significance of the feet. Still, [...]

Yoga in your Socks2018-11-23T12:51:34+00:00

Feeling panicky? Calm down quickly by paying attention to your body


Your stomach hurts. Your neck and shoulders have hardened to concrete. Your vision and hearing are stuttering. You feel dizzy. Your mind is hunting for dangers, for solutions, for something … you’re not sure what.This might be how you feel when your body becomes dysregulated or overwhelmed. It’s definitely a feeling familiar to yoga students at Pacifica Treatment Centre, an addiction recovery residence where our volunteers 4 weekly teach trauma-informed classes. Usually this means you’re worrying so much about events in the future or replaying events in the past, that you aren’t even aware of the present - except for those [...]

Feeling panicky? Calm down quickly by paying attention to your body2018-11-20T16:00:04+00:00

Our Board Chair On Volunteering with Yoga Outreach


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 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 [...]

Our Board Chair On Volunteering with Yoga Outreach2018-04-18T12:09:55+00:00

Lori’s Story


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 [...]

Lori’s Story2017-12-20T11:54:03+00:00


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