In my quest to find inspiring individuals and organizations connected to yoga, I came across UpRising Yoga. This group of amazing people bring yoga to to youth who might not otherwise receive it – and make an amazing difference in their lives. Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, let me share with you how they described their purpose in their own words:
UpRising Yoga’s mission is to unite resilient kids with resourceful communities. We teach yoga in juvenile halls, detention facilities, probation camps, group homes as well as community centers and schools. The specific populations served are incarcerated youth, children with a history of foster care and/or commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC), and communities that need it most. We also hold trauma sensitive yoga trainings for all – and teach yoga in areas that do not offer yoga, establishing community.
My Personal Connection
I am a former foster parent. I am also a former middle school teacher (Houston, Texas!), and I spent six weeks this summer working with students in a program intended to foster academic support for first generation college students. I tell you my history because it is the reason UpRising Yoga resonated with me. UpRising Yoga goes into places that most people do not and would not. In my experience, the children who occupy these spaces have been labeled and already written off by most of society in ways that are unfair and totally inaccurate. In my own experiences with youth who have been labeled as “troubled” (read – unmotivated and no good), I have found some of the kindest, most compassionate individuals who are trying to figure out how to resolve their issues and live their dreams.
The youth UpRising Yoga works with have histories that will break your heart and make you cry. They are unimaginable and horrible and things I could not handle as an adult – yet they have these experiences as young children. Now, I don’t know any of the youth in the program personally. I do not know their stories. But I know enough stories of youth like them that I feel confident in telling you that you would never want to experience what they have lived. If you have not worked with youth in these scenarios, or if you have not lived it yourself, you simply cannot imagine what they have gone through and the trauma they have to contend with. Whatever you have dreamed up in your head isn’t even close. Trust me.
Background on UpRising Yoga
Jill Ippolito is the Founder and Executive Director of UpRising Yoga, and has been practicing and teaching yoga for over twelve years. She is dedicated to bringing yoga to incarcerated youth and the communities they come from. Since 2011, UpRising Yoga has taught in juvenile detention facilities, group homes, schools and community centers. Her work includes Trauma Sensitive Trainings for all, not just yoga teachers. Jill believes that practicing yoga is something that can be done anywhere at any time. Her overall mission is to ensure that yoga is seen as a healing modality and an effective tool to rehabilitate incarcerated youth in this nation. UpRising’s key principle can be summed up in the mantra that is shared in every class: “Yoga is a gift; no one can take it away from you.”
Jill was formerly in the juvenile hall where UpRising Yoga teaches when she was 17. She has fallen off three buildings, broken her back, had an arm rebuilt, and was in physical therapy for a year before staring a yoga practice in 2001. She graduated from Bikram Yoga in 2006.
About UpRising Yoga