New Leaf Yoga: Q and A with Co-Founder Laura Sygrove
Posted Nov 09 2011 11:57am
We’re excited when we come across good people doing good thingsespecially through yoga. So when we heard about New Leaf Yoga co-founder Laura Sygrove and what she and her team are up to, deciding to feature her with an interview on our site to help get the word out was an immediate ‘yes.’
The reasons that motivated Jessica Robertson (co-founder) and I to create New Leaf www.newleafyoga.org are simple, but powerful. Basically, yoga has had a huge impact on our lives and we want to share that opportunity for personal transformation with others. For me, yoga has served to help me feel more connected to and safe within my body, given me tools to work with anger, and provided me with the ability to know that I have options. We’re acutely aware that many people don’t have access to this healing practice whether because of finances, feelings of exclusion, lack of access to studios within their communities, etc. and we feel really inspired to change that. We specifically wanted to focus on youth because they are at such a pivotal time in their lives and it’s especially disheartening that so often people give up on youth who are faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges like community violence and incarceration, and so we decided that our mission would be to bring yoga to youth in some of the least serviced communities and facilities.
2. What changes to do you see in the youth you work with and can you list some of the off-the-mat benefits that the youth you work with experience?
Many of the youth we work with are surprised with the benefits that they notice. For example, some may initially choose to attend out of boredom, to get out of their rooms (if incarcerated) or to stretch after they work out. But after even just a class or two, they very often notice that they feel less stressed, that maybe something that they were angry about when they walked in is not getting to them as much, and then in the longer term they report being better able to work with their anger, sleeping better, feeling less agitated and less stressed out. I very often notice a heightened level of self-awareness – the ability of the young men I work with to notice and verbalize how they feel and where they feel in their bodies. This awareness goes a long way in contributing to self-regulation and being able to self-soothe when faced with challenges.
3. Your Warriors for Peace program enables businesses and yoga studios to support what you do. Can you talk about what these establishments are supporting when they sign up?
Our Warriors for Peace campaign was created to bring yoga-related businesses and studios together for a common cause: specifically to support the youth in our programs and also more generally to create awareness and intention around fostering peace in our communities and to find ways to make yoga more accessible beyond New Leaf’s work. For the financial part of Warriors, the initiative is meant to foster regular monthly support as consistent donations establish sustainability and a solid foundation on which we can do the work we do. Additionally, we’re asking studios to look within their own studio communities to see how they can commit to peaceful practices in how they work with students, staff, and teachers, and also to investigate ways in which their studios can implement creative ways to make yoga even more accessible to people who are not walking through their doors.
4. What else can people do to support New Leaf Yoga?
There are lots of simple things people can do to support New Leaf. Donations of any size can be made on our website. Also people can help us to educate others and spread the word by joining our , attending events, talking to the directors of a yoga studio they may attend about getting involved somehow. Every contribution is really valuable!