Notes from our Programs: Minority Yoga Teachers to Mentor Gang-Involved Youth

In a collaboration between Niroga Institute and Alameda County Public Health Department, Niroga's Integral Health Fellow (IHF) yoga teacher trainees and newly graduated yoga teachers will mentor high-risk youth attempting to put their gang involvement behind them. The Institute's Executive Director and founder, Bidyut (BK) Bose says, "This collaboration is targeted at reducing juvenile crime and violence, and keeping our vulnerable youth from dropping out."

Fellows will be paired with youth and young adult participants of Project New Start, complementing and enhancing a tattoo-removal program of the Alameda County Public Health Department. One IHF graduate said, "I received so much from the program, I can't wait to give back to my community."

"This is a tremendous transformation of our young adults and excellent resource for building community capacity," said Quamrun Eldridge, Deputy Division Director of the Community Health Services Division. "We believe TLS will empower our high-risk youth and young adults to move forward for a healthier lifestyle," Eldridge continued.

The IHF program is a partnership between the Alameda County Public Health Department, the Bay Area Black United Fund and Niroga Institute. This 2-year program trains minority young adults to become Certified Yoga Teachers, prepared to teach their communities Transformative Life Skills (TLS), a multi-modality intervention including yoga, breathing techniques and mindfulness.

The first cohort of 13 Fellows graduated in May; a fresh cohort of 14 students is starting their training on September 26, as last year's cohort of 15 students begins its second year. Each Fellow has committed to doing at least 100 hours of public service.