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Yoga Service Conference Schedule
May 19 – 21, 2017


Pre-Conference Intensives: Friday May 19th, 2017

These full day workshops will offer you the opportunity to deeply immerse yourself in study of important topics in the field, supported by extraordinary teachers and leaders. Each of these workshops will offer a grounding and inspiring start to the full Yoga Service Conference, which begins on Friday evening.

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1. Tools for Social Change: Building a Movement of Wellbeing for All: Kate Werning, Autumn Leonard, Jacoby Ballard, Teo Drake

How do we reconcile an America where get to attend this conference, while many are in prisons, deportation centers, or working multiple jobs and still living in poverty? How can we harness our power to not only create a shift in consciousness, but also in the daily lived realities of so many in our world who are struggling to survive, much less be well?

As we engage in yoga service work, many of us are firsthand witnesses to the pain and suffering caused by systemic inequality and injustice in this country. How do we take that in and not be subsumed by the size of the problem? What would it look like to dramatically change the root causes of the conditions where we serve?

We know we can’t do it alone – we need each other to build the collective power to make systemic change. CTZNWELL is mobilizing communities of wellbeing to build collective power and partner with communities at the frontlines of social change work to transform our world. To do this, we need deep and ongoing community that can practice together, support one another, and activate toward the vision of a society where full wellbeing is a possibility for all.

In this intensive you will:

  • Explore your practice on a community and systemic level
  • Deepen your understanding of systemic injustice and how social change happens
  • Learn about the Circle organizing model that is supporting practitioners, instructors, and studio owners across the country to deepen their practice, build community, and activate collectively for social change
  • Gain the tools to activate Circles of wellbeing and social change in your own community and places of practice


Kate Werning: As CTZNWELL’s Organizing Director, Kate practices the critical connection of personal wellbeing work with a deep commitment to collective liberation through social change. She trained as a Hatha yoga teacher and integrates those tools into her organizing to work from the heart, as well as uplifting interdependence and social justice in her yoga classes at Third Root Community Health Center in Brooklyn, NY and in her hometown of Milwaukee, WI. Having learned organizing with youth the immigrant rights movement, Kate helped launch the Ayni Institute and Cosecha, and serves as a Lead Trainer with Momentum and an Advisory Board member of OmTownYogis. She has trained with Oppression in the Soma, Off the Mat Into the World, Midwest Academy, James Lawson, and the Relational Center.

Autumn Leonard inherited a love of equality from her parents who braved interracial marriage laws and got legally hitched in 1959. Her love of storytelling began when she was eight years old and stumbled into a stage debut at the Edinburgh Fringe. That combination of justice and story infused her work as the Creative Action Coordinator for United for a Fair Economy, Community Programmer for Arts and Ideas, a trainer for Ruckus, and a puppet builder for Art & Revolution. She teaches yoga at Urban Asanas in Brooklyn, NY and is CTZNWELL’s Operations Director. Autumn holds a 500hr certification from Rolf Gates and Heidi Sormaz and is a member of the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance, in addition to her BA in Theater from Yale and an MFA in Film from UT Austin.

Jacoby Ballard teaches yoga and mindfulness, is a writer, and social justice educator. He co-founded the worker-owned cooperative Third Root Community Health Center in Brooklyn and Bending Towards Justice, which trains contemplative teachers in diversity, anti-oppression, and justice. His work centers on embodiment, trauma, and social justice, which earned him the 2015 Game Changer Award, and in 2016 he received a Good Karma award for his work in queer and trans communities. His writing appears in Yoga, the Body, and Embodied Social Change, the Trans Buddhist Anthology, the Yoga and Body Image book, and Real World Mindfulness for Beginners: Navigate Daily Life One Practice at a Time, and his forthcoming book A Queer Dharma is due out soon. More at jacobyballard.com.


2. On Being: The Art of Facilitation:  Dr. Melody Moore

In this full-day intensive, we will explore the ways that, as containers of emotional transformation, we can set up the conditions of safety for ourselves and our clients.  As facilitators, it is necessary that we understand how to become safe havens for our clients and students without causing harm to ourselves. Often, in our attempts to serve others, we end up overwhelmed, over-invested, or overcompensating. Our attachment to our students’ growth can become too much to bear, if we make it our responsibility. Containing space for others brings up our own core wounds, triggers, and reactions. In this workshop, we will look at the components of containment and grounding that we need, as facilitators, in order to stay centered regardless of what dynamics arrive or play out in sessions or classes. We will explore attachment theory, boundaries, shadow work, family systems, and group dynamics in order to become the kind of containers that are informed, sustained, and competent. It is only when students and clients feel that the conditions of safety are met that their vulnerability will be able to surface.  It is through vulnerability that we are able to connect, and it is through connection that we are able to heal. Come and learn how to be open to your own emotional experiences while providing a container for students and clients to be able to invite their own, in their own time, in their own ways.

Dr. Melody Moore,  RYT is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, yoga teacher, author, and activist. She is the founder and president of  the Embody Love Movement Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to empower girls and women to celebrate their inner beauty, commit to kindness, and contribute to meaningful change in the world.  Dr. Moores work has been featured in the books Yoga and Body Image (eds. Klein and Guest-Jelly) and Yoga and Eating Disorders: Ancient Healing for Modern Illness (eds. Costin and Kelly) as well as in the Yoga Journal, Yoga International, Sweat Equity, and Origin Magazine. She created TriDeltas collegiate BodyImage3D program, and is their subject matter expert on self-love and body acceptance. She is the National Eating Disorder Associations Proud2bMe campus project, Monthly Matters with Melodycolumnist. Dr. Moore serves as a faculty member for Off the Mat, Into the World, a non-profit that empowers leaders to become conscious activists. She is a founding member of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, an advisor at World Muse and serves on faculty for the Catalyst Collective. In her private practice, she has spent 15,000 clinical hours specializing in recovery of Eating Disorders through integrated treatment of psychotherapy, yoga, and holistic nutrition.  Dr. Moore teaches yoga and embodied expression workshops and trainings internationally. In 2015, she was featured as a Game Changerby the Yoga Journal and chosen as one of 100 Most Influential Global Leaders Empowering Women Worldwide” by EBW2020. 


3. Practice, Reflect, Connect: A Retreat Day for Service Providers: Molly Lannon Kenny and Mark Lilly

Join Molly Lannon Kenny and Mark Lilly for this day of deep connection and restoration.  Molly and Mark have served amazing, resilient people facing enormous life challenges for decades, and have been close friends and mutual support for over well over ten years.  Join them in this opportunity to be nourished in heart, mind and body. In this day-long retreat, you will be invited to step into the center of your own practice.

You will be supported to:

    • identify your sources of renewal
    • connect intimately with your own spiritual practice
    • nurture your own active, caring, 24/7 practice by surrendering deeply and rising clearly
    • share sacred space with fellow humans
    • allow yourself to be fed through deep, authentic heart connections

Take this time before the conference starts to settle in and re-calibrate from daily life. With the abundance of information shared during the conference, allow yourself to begin the weekend inspired and nurtured by two of the most profoundly authentic and loving teachers you will meet on your spiritual service journey, and become more awake to your own unique Truth, Beauty, and Power.

Molly Lannon Kenny is founder and director of the Samarya Center and the Samarya Yoga School, a nonprofit service and training organization dedicated to individual transformation and social change. Creator of Integrated Movement Therapy®, and an advisor to the Yoga Service Council, she has been featured in Yoga Journal and the New York Times. samaryacenter.org

Mark Lilly, director of Insight Communication, is founder and president of Street Yoga, a nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon. Along with sharing the practice of yoga with thousands of youth, he conducts workshops in mindful communication and has developed many special yoga curricula in addition to the core and advanced Street Yoga trainings. streetyoga.org[/mk_toggle][mk_padding_divider]

Main Conference

[mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_toggle style=”fancy” title=”Friday Night”]8:00-8:20 Welcome and Introduction to the Weekend: Jennifer Cohen Harper

8:20-8:40 Review and Update Community Agreements

8:45-9:15 Chair Yoga Practice

9:15-9:30 Meditation and Closing[/mk_toggle][mk_toggle style=”fancy” title=”Saturday”]

7:00 – 8:00: Optional Practice Sessions (Vigorous Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Meditation)

9:00-9:15 Introduction

9:15-10:45 Cultivating Inner Resilience: Embodied Practices to Help Cope with Disappointment, Difficulty, even Disaster: Linda Graham

Every human being has to face failures and crises.  Embodied practices such as mindfulness and yoga help us develop a reliable inner basis of calm and equanimity that is the essential ground of skillful coping, resilience, and well-being. Participants will learn somatic-based tools to reverse the impact of stress, trauma, anxiety, depression, guilt and shame, and strengthen the clarity, self-compassion, and relational resourcing necessary to discern options and make the wise choices that lead to thriving and flourishing.

11:00-12:00 Yoga for Underserved Populations: The Science and the Research Evidence: Sat Bir Khalsa

Yoga is an ancient behavioral practice that allows for the development of mind body skills including physical fitness, awareness/mindfulness, self regulation of internal physiological and psychological states and enhancement of life purpose and meaning. This presentation will review some of the basic science underlying the psychophysiology of yoga practices and describe some of the cutting edge biomedical research studies with relevance to yoga, including research on molecular biology and brain imaging. Models of psychophysiological mechanisms of action and future areas of research will be presented. We will also examine the scientific rationale for the benefits of yoga as a therapeutic intervention for underserved populations including veterans, the elderly, trauma survivors, and in public schools, among others, and will overview the depth and breadth of the published biomedical yoga research.


1:30-3:00 Breakout Workshops

Inclusive Cuing:  The Art of Offering Sensitive Cues for Diverse Experience Levels, Intentions, and Mobility Expressions: Jasmine Cherazi

How do we decide which practice options to offer our students, and how do we offer them in a way that equally fosters each student’s inclusivity and self-empowerment? We’ll explore the best practices of using objective rather than subjective qualifiers in cuing, as well as process-oriented cues rather than goal-oriented cues. This discussion will also examine how to present options sensitive to common physical and psychological conditions. We will learn how to use class time before the practice begins to set guidelines that promote inclusivity and celebrate diverse practice expressions. If we are to authentically offer our students diverse cues in a way that the options are perceived as equal, we must offer ourselves the same opportunity. Accordingly, this session will provide an opportunity for us to explore how we approach our personal practice, working to leave behind any self-judgment for our own sakes, and our students’ too.

Breathe, Move, Learn: Trauma Informed Approaches to Working with Youth: Pam Lozoff

In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the triune model of the brain and a corresponding need within each of the three parts: the need for safety, the need for love/soothing and the need for learning. We will cover practices for creating a trauma- informed space with youth by first responding to the need for a sense of safety in their bodies, in order to then be able to respond to the other needs. Participants will learn practical, yoga based tools for guiding youth toward more safety and emotional regulation in their bodies. The tools are accessible and you needn’t be a trained yoga teacher or professional to lead them. These tools and takeaways can be applied and integrated immediately and are relevant for classroom teachers, counselors, social workers and other caregivers/folks working with and caring for vulnerable youth people exposed to complex trauma.

The Science and Art of Evaluating Yoga Service Programs: Kyla Pearce and Kim Baker

We all know that yoga changes lives and can foster empowerment, healing, and community. What is less known, is how to measure the impact of a yoga program. Assessing impact is critical not only for the ongoing refinement of your program and for securing donor support, but also for influencing clinical practice and policy makers to view yoga as a viable and respected intervention for wellbeing. This interactive workshop will use the LoveYourBrain Foundation’s yoga program for the traumatic brain injury (TBI) community as a case study for describing key successes and pitfalls in developing evaluation systems and academic research collaborations. You can expect to learn about the pros and cons of different evaluation designs, possible measures for assessing physical, emotional, and cognitive impact, and practical tips for enhancing your response rate. We will discuss your organization’s measurement systems and the challenges you’re facing to begin to identify best practices for evaluation and dissemination.

Developing Wisdom Presence through the Four Yogas: Molly Lannon Kenny

The YSC’s definition of Yoga Service includes three interconnected circles: Yoga Practices, Inquiry and Reflection, and Conscious Relationship. However, in our collective effort to secularize yoga, we have often missed the opportunity for connection to divine presence, the very foundation for reflection and relationship through yoga. In this inspiring workshop, Molly will introduce the transcendent heart of yoga as it is described in the Bhagavad Gita, and the ways in which we can deepen a sense of divinity in service to others through each of the four yogas.  Molly has started dozens of “outreach programs.” She knows that yoga can – and usually should – be shared in a secular manner. At the same time, yoga is by definition a spiritual practice. By invoking yoga’s rich history, Molly will inspire us to explore the depths of practice and to develop the individual wisdom presence required to truly, authentically share this practice.

3:30-5:00 Breakout Workshops

Compassionate or Co-Dependent: The Wisdom to Know the Difference: Nikki Myers

Compassion is the heart of sustainable service. Literally translated ‘suffering with’, compassion goes beyond feeling another’s suffering to actively mitigating it. Codependence has been defined as ‘the disease of the lost self’ and becomes problematic when we consciously or subconsciously seek something outside as a way to sidestep looking inside. The line between the two can be confusing.  Even when intentions are good, if service comes from codependence it ultimately creates harm, turning into what Chogyam Trungpa calls ‘Idiot Compassion’ or compassion with neurosis.  True compassion balances concern and wisdom and Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield stresses that it only comes through deep self-acceptance.   When we find ourselves ‘helping’ or ‘fixing’ from our own sense of identity – it’s codependence, not compassion. Through lecture, discussion and experiential exercise, this session explores codependence, compassion and self-acceptance.

An Introduction to Teaching Trauma Informed Yoga: Rosa Vissers

This session will equip you with fundamental tools and practices to ensure your classes are a safer, more accessible space for students with trauma. Study the basics of trauma research and how stress impacts our nervous system and body. Explore essential yoga postures, meditations, and breath work that invite self-regulation and connection. Walk away with practical knowledge you can integrate in your classes right away to support your students’ wholeness and health.

Best Practices for Cultural Competency: A View from a Historically Black College: Santiba Campbell and Tamara Jeffries

When Bennett College, a small, southern women’s college, added yoga to the course offerings, it became the first historically Black institution to do so. The course was in high demand, but with an obvious need to increase cultural awareness in instruction and eliminate “micro-barriers” to student needs.  Issues included designing sessions to address health factors that disproportionately affect African-Americans; psychological stress related to racial tensions and trauma; religiosity and yoga without minimizing or culturally appropriating the traditions. The session will examine the development of the course from a psychological perspective including discussions on mindfulness and cultural competency. Exploratory data in addition to case study analyses will be examined concerning African American health, economics and culture.

A Mindful Approach to Education: Promoting Inquiry and Social Justice in Schools: Argos Gonzalez

This session will address some of the concerns that yoga teachers, leaders and service providers will want to explore as they attempt to engage students of color.  An interactive format will allow participants to share experiences and best practices. When bringing mindful awareness practices to youth, there is a huge potential for inquiry, social justice, and change.  This session will explore ways educators can incorporate mindfulness into their work and how it can provide a practical and structured way to disrupt the ways we habitually look at the world.  This breakout session will create a space for reflection, group work, and discussion.  Mindfulness awareness tools will be incorporated to support engagement, develop a critical stance, help participants stay connected to their highest intentions, and help honor the youth they work with. Movement will be a part of the experience as well to help support inquiry and create opportunities for interaction that are joyful and supportive of individual needs.

Development and Fundraising for Yoga Service Organizations: Brett Cobb

Do you currently serve a nonprofit and need help raising new funds? Join Brett Cobb — YSC Board member, fundraising consultant and former Director of Development at Omega Institute with 25 years experience raising lead gifts and grants — for group discussion of the most pressing challenges you and your organization face today. Leave this breakout with practical tools and confidence to help ensure greater fundraising success[/mk_toggle]

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5:30-6:30 Optional Practice Sessions (Vigorous Yoga. Gentle Yoga, Meditation)

7:30- 9:30–10:00 Yoga Service Exhibits and Networking Event

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7:00 – 8:00: Optional Practice Sessions (Vigorous Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Meditation)

9:00-9:05 Introduction

9:05-10:00 Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There: The Transformative Power of Stillness and it’s Role in Yoga Service: Gail Parker

We live in a culture that places more value on doing than on being. Many of us attach our worth to accomplishments. In placing such a high value on busyness we often deny ourselves the opportunities for stillness that lead to transformation, and miss seeing how our personal transformation is a central factor in our capacity to generate social change. If you don’t practice being still, when the time comes to do something, you may be depleted from all of your busyness. Restorative practices prepare us for action, and in this discussion we will explore the relationship between individual transformation and social change, and how we can show up as our best selves when it counts the most.

10:05-11:15 Facilitated Discussion Groups

11:20-12:15  Changing the Paradigm of Self Care from Individual Act to Communal Covenant: Leslie Booker and Teo Drake

All too often, Western culture perpetuates the myth that brokenness or struggle is a personal failing and that self-care is an individual responsibility or, worse, an indulgence. But when we are in community, supporting and caring for each other is a collective responsibility and a revolutionary, communal act. When someone burns out, the entire community suffers from the loss of their gifts.

In this plenary session, Booker and Teo will open up an inquiry into how we model self-care and communal care, and how we live and practice our deepest intentions as yogis. They will speak to why, from the perspective of people on the margins (those who are oppressed, marginalized, or tokenized), it’s particularly important that we redefine care and transform our understanding of leadership—and they will offer the strategies and tools that can help us do so. We must make space for imperfection; brokenness and brilliance together

12:15-12:30 Closing: Jennifer Cohen Harper


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