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Yoga Service Conference Schedule
May 13-15, 2016


Pre-Conference Intensives: Friday May 13th, 2016

Immerse yourself in study of important topics in the field, supported by extraordinary teachers and leaders. We begin the day together with practice, and then move into one of three workshop options to explore and learn. The Intensives offer a grounding and inspiring start to the full Yoga Service Conference, which begins Friday evening.

Please note that the Pre-Conference Intensives are separate from the Main Conference; they are optional, and registration is $95.

[mk_toggle style=”fancy” title=”Friday 9:00AM-9:45AM: Welcome and Practice”]Gather as a group for a gentle but invigorating practice, and get your body and mind ready for the day ahead.[/mk_toggle][mk_toggle style=”fancy” title=”Friday 10:00AM-5:30PM: Workshops”]Trauma informed yoga and mindfulness methodologies for clinicians and social service providers: Danielle Rousseau, Sue Jones, Elizabeth Jackson

This workshop will discuss the translation of trauma informed yoga and mindfulness practices into clinical settings. Participants will be provided with an empirically based understanding of the nature of traumatic stress and specific tools for utilization in clinical practice. Approaches discussed will focus attention on the body (the storehouse of our life experiences) and the sensations of our body which drive thought, behavior and action/reaction. Research addressing the impact of the integration of yoga and mindfulness in clinical settings will be presented, including case studies of clinicians currently incorporating this model of yoga and mindfulness in a variety of diverse settings. This model fosters cultural competence and has the potential for wide range impact as a set of supplemental tools for clinicians and social service providers. Participants in this workshop will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the neurobiology of stress and traumatic stress.
  • Discuss the core components of neuroplasticity and trauma recovery
  • Explain the role of right brain processing in traumatic stress and trauma recovery
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role and effectiveness of asana practice and mindfulness tools in neuroplasticity and trauma recovery
  • Explain the correlation between interoceptive awareness, mindfulness tools and non-judgment in trauma recovery
  • Delineate specific tools for the integration of mindfulness strategies into clinical practice and explain the impact these tools have on mind and body.

Danielle Rousseau, PhD LMHC is an Assistant Professor at Boston University and the director of Boston University’s Prison Education Program. 

Sue Jones, Founder and Executive Director of yogaHope has practiced yoga for over 14 years and is a leading voice in the subject of mind body practices for self regulation and personal empowerment. 

Elizabeth Jackson, MPH, is an experienced public health professional with 10+ years of global and domestic health experience.


The Chakras in Action: How to use the Chakras to create a path to well-being: Rolf Gates

The Chakras chart a course across our lives by defining key relationships that have to be resolved on the path to spiritual maturity. They are an energetic link between the manifest and the un-manifest dimensions in our lives and the place in which thought becomes form. A well-designed yoga class, workshop, or training unfolds along the path laid out by the Chakras. This workshop will offer both an analysis of the Chakras and a method for using them as an outline for creating impactful experiences to social service providers and yoga teachers.

  • Learn to utilize a framework of understanding that both honors and transcends our differences
  • Develop skills in using this system as an outline to facilitate a holistic path to well being
  • Address specific issues in the field of yoga service, and apply these principles to existing healing modalities.
  • Define a set of skills and core understandings of true health and wellness that we can integrate into both our professional and personal lives

Rolf Gates, author of the acclaimed book on Yogic philosophy, Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga, conducts yoga workshops, retreats, teacher trainings, and coaching and mentorship programs throughout the U.S. and abroad–and online.


Growing and Sustaining a Yoga Service Organization: MaryLynn Fitton, Lisa Pedersen, Bob Altman

The Art of Yoga Project’s (AYP) Executive Director, Lisa Pedersen, and Founder, Mary Lynn Fitton, share lessons learned over the last ten years bringing yoga to youth in the juvenile justice system. Together they have grown AYP to a budget of $500K+, serving over 700 youth annually in 15+ sites locally and 27 affiliates nationally. Presenting along with YSC Board Member Bob Altman, Lisa and Mary Lynn will share how to:

  • Form a 501(c)(3) non-profit yoga service organization (legal and technical requirements)
  • Plan strategically: Ensure every day decisions are aligned with your organization’s mission and vision
  • Build necessary infrastructure—policies, procedures, communication and liability protection as you grow
  • Codify and replicate curriculum and programming
  • Transition from utilizing volunteers and contractors to building a staff of employees
  • Develop a secure and diverse funding base including institutional contracts
  • Develop and utilize your Board of Directors effectively.

Lisa Pedersen has been the Executive Director at The Art of Yoga Project (AYP) since 2009. 

Mary Lynn Fitton has a commitment to young women’s health, empowerment and well-being. 

Bob Altman is the Co-Founder of Centering Youth, a yoga service initiative based in Atlanta, Georgia, with the mission of Empowering Youth with Yoga and Mindfulness.[/mk_toggle][mk_padding_divider]

Main Conference

[mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_toggle style=”fancy” title=”Friday 8:00PM-10:00PM: Full Conference Opening and Practice”]8:00-8:40 What Is Yoga Service: Welcome and Introduction to the Weekend

8:45-9:45 Yoga Practice[/mk_toggle][mk_toggle style=”fancy” title=”Saturday 7:00AM-10:00PM: Keynotes, Workshops, Practice and Evening Celebration”]7:00 – 8:00: Optional Practice Sessions

9:00-9:15 Introduction

9:15-10:30 Adapting Yoga to Your Students’ Needs: Matthew Sanford

The principles of yoga do not discriminate.  Yoga poses do.  This interactive presentation explores universal principles of the asana that can be shared with ANY body, regardless of condition. When yoga is shared across all levels of ability and disability, the very best of humanity is unleashed.  This makes the relationship between yoga teacher and student a reciprocal one – every one benefits  Sanford draws upon is eighteen years of experience with opening yoga to people living with trauma, loss, and disability to share insights about the nature of service, the importance of creating compassion boundaries,, and the way this reciprocal relationship affects the greater community.

10:45-12:00 Investigating our Unconscious Bias and Understanding our Assumptions: Pam Dunn and Leslie Booker

Over the past decade, mindfulness and yoga programs have begun to access some of the most underserved and vulnerable communities in this country. Within these programs, most of which provide teachers to work within communities which are ethno-culturally different than there own, there is very little available to educate and support facilitators as they navigate this space. In this presentation, we will address how our unconscious bias around culture, gender expression, race, etc. might show up with the folks we are trying to offer practice to. The intention of this presentation will be to shed light on what we often spiritually bypass, to highlight the importance of being aware of our own thinking rather than glossing over it in an attempt to be “correct” or not to appear prejudiced, to offer support, and to empower teachers to ask and to explore the uncomfortable questions that arise out of not having clear understanding.


1:30-3:00 Breakout Workshops

Y.E.S Yoga, Empowerment and Strategies for Creating Body Positive, Inclusive and Accessible Yoga Classes: Melanie Klein and Dianne Bondy
***Please note: This is a 2 part workshop, and will be continued during the 3:30-5 breakout session.

Join Dianne Bondy and Melanie Klein for a Yoga For All Workshop. Through discourse, meditation and asana practice, participants will; engage in a thorough and interactive discussion on yoga and body image, cultural diversity, and finding empowerment body positive language and strategies for your yoga classes; learn how to create universal themes and inclusive sequencing to develop truly progressive and diverse mixed-level yoga classes in which students of all sizes, ability, and ethnicity are celebrated, challenged, and empowered; work together to create an understanding and awareness of how to support all types of diversity in this practice.

Using Mindfulness to guide the one-on-one yoga therapy session with trauma survivors: Nityda Bhakti

Working as a yoga therapist with trauma survivors is extremely rewarding. The challenge within this healing environment is that it is one involving physical intimacy, and thus the potential for a client to re-experience or be triggered during session is ever-present. This interactive session will highlight the use of mindfulness practices as a tool to guide this work. We will explore: what this work is, how a mindfulness vantage can aid in doing less harm and promoting more healing, as well as problem solving (e.g. what to do when a client is triggered during a session), and common questions that yoga therapists/teachers have. The information provided in this session is transferable to working with groups and with people experiencing other psychosocial stressors.

Reveal and Reflect: Yoga Service as Window and Mirror: Peg Oliveira

Knowledge and skill are not commodities to be imparted on our students. Learning is never in a vacuum. It is personal and contextual. To be an authentic and relevant teacher, we must create an environment that does not require our students to be cultural commuters when coming to the mat. But too often voices are stifled. Or we forget to listen. By framing the teacher-student relationship as an opportunity to both reveal the uniqueness in every individual and reflect our interconnected nature, we will explore ways to dismantle the barriers, conscious and unconscious, that keep us from meeting our students where they are.

Yoga In Schools: Understanding and Applying the Lessons of the the Yoga Service Best Practices White Book: Traci Childress

In this workshop, participants will actively explore the content and suggestions created by the authors and editors of the Best Practices for Yoga in Schools White Book, a yoga service guide for yoga teachers, school teachers, school administrators, social workers, and anyone else interested in bringing yoga to kids safely and in a just and inclusive way. Some of the specific suggestions will be examined, and participants will actively reflect on them, working to understand, discuss, and map out ways that the best practices may be used in their own classrooms or yoga offerings in schools. This workshop will involve discussion, group work, and real interactive dialogue with peers as the content of the White Book publication is explored and examined. Facilitated by one of the co-editors of the book, this workshop is appropriate for both school teachers hoping to share yoga in their classrooms, and for  yoga teachers who teach in schools. Ages covered include elementary age through high school.

3:30-5:00 Breakout Workshops 

Part. 2: Y.E.S Yoga, Empowerment and Strategies for Creating Body Positive, Inclusive and Accessible Yoga Classes: Melanie Klein and Dianne Bondy
***Please note, this is a continuation of the 1:30-3:00 session. You must have attended the prior session in order to join

Join Dianne Bondy and Melanie Klein for a Yoga For All Workshop. Through discourse, meditation and asana practice, participants will; engage in a thorough and interactive discussion on yoga and body image, cultural diversity, and finding empowerment body positive language and strategies for your yoga classes; learn how to create universal themes and inclusive sequencing to develop truly progressive and diverse mixed-level yoga classes in which students of all sizes, ability, and ethnicity are celebrated, challenged, and empowered; work together to create an understanding and awareness of how to support all types of diversity in this practice.

Voice of Change: Find Your Voice, Live Your Truth: Suzanne Sterling

Do you yearn to stand in your own power and speak your truth? Is it time to listen to the poetry of your own soul and the wisdom of your sacred intuition? Would you like to take your spiritual work out into the world in embodied, compassionate, and active ways? This workshop with Voice of Change founder, Suzanne Sterling is designed to develop and strengthen your ability to live, express, and embody your truth. We will explore ways to heal the deep-seated patterns and stories that keep us silent & invisible, uncover the soul of expression that lives inside you, and celebrate your creativity & artistry in powerful ways. You will then be guided in taking steps to become an effective agent-of-change by using self-expression, ritual, and community-building to support social justice and creative evolution. Voice of Change invites our embodied truth to become our message, our medicine, and our direct action.

A Sustainable Model for Teaching and Learning Mindfulness: Chris Willard

We all want to teach mindfulness, compassion and yoga, but how can we make the lessons and practice really stick beyond the hour or two a week we spend with our students? This workshop examines some best wisdom, research and theory on offering and supporting the blossoming, by considering a more holistic model of teaching. Starting with deepening our own practice, to creating a community of support, sharing practice together and onward to matching practices to personalities and nurturing independent practice. We will explore these questions as a group, sharing from our experiences and the research. Participants should be prepared for an interactive workshop spent adapting and practicing a variety of mindfulness exercises including awareness, movement, games, and expressive /creative activities that can be practiced by people of all levels of experience.

Developing and Sustaining City-Wide Yoga Service Networks: Founders from Rochester, Chicago and Atlanta Yoga Service Networks

Come join a collaborative group of presenters from the Rochester Yoga Service Network, Chicago’s Socially Engaged Yoga Network, and the Atlanta Yoga Service Network, to explore models of regional yoga service. Explore how grassroots inception, coupled with a spirit of collaboration in leadership, can generate thriving networks that support and sustain local community yoga service initiatives. Through discussion and activities, participants will (1) analyze best practices of collaborative leadership; (2) explore strategies for overcoming challenges and maintaining momentum; and (3) receive pragmatic support with spirited inspiration to ignite similar models in their own communities.

Saturday Evening:

5:30-6:30 Optional Practice Sessions

8:00-10:00 Music Celebration[/mk_toggle]

[mk_toggle style=”fancy” title=”Sunday 7:00AM-12:30PM: Practice, Keynote, Discussion Groups, Mentor Sessions”]Sunday:

7:00 – 8:00: Optional Practice Sessions

9:00-9:05 Introduction

9:05-10:00 Containing: Holding Your Center While Holding Space: Melody Moore

As facilitators, teachers, and therapists, we are privileged with the opportunity to hold space for those we serve and are served by.  We get to enter into settings and into the minds and hearts of beings that, like each of us, are vulnerable to potential harm. How do we develop the skills necessary to hold students’ sensation, emotion, and potential transformation? What do we need to know in order to become available to contain our own responses and reactions without getting in the way of the students’ needs? When we are grounded, centered, and have enough self-awareness to respond to our triggers with compassion, we develop a sense of containment for ourselves and those we serve.

10:05-11:15 Facilitated Discussion Groups and Mentor Sessions

Participate in facilitated discussion groups on a wide variety of topics, including: Yoga Service, Government and Policy (Henry Cross); Yoga and Human Rights (Katie Carter); Finding Funding for Work that Matters (Nicole Cardoza); The Power of Yoga in Prisons Marshawn Feltus; Yoga Service in Healthcare (Rayna Rogowska); Culturally Responsive Teaching in Schools (Carla Tantillo Philibert); Yoga Service on College Campuses (Leanne Charleswsorth); Guiding Teens to a Greater Sense of Agency (Abby Wills); Yoga Service in Addiction and Recovery (Sarahjoy Marsh); and Yoga and Racial Diversity (Charlene Sams and Susanna Barkataki).

11:20-12:00 Where We Go From Here: A Discussion on the future of Yoga Service with YSC Advisors

12:00-12:15 Closing


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