World Spine Care Yoga Project (YP) officially launched in 2016 with its first program offering in Botswana. Now, heading into its fifth year, the YP remains focused on continuing to meet its mission and vision.
The Yoga Project is focused on building community capacity for low mobility populations by sharing the practices of Yoga as tools for management and prevention of musculoskeletal pain.
To globally inspire self-directed, self-led and self-sustaining communities, who experience low mobility, to use the practices of Yoga for active and preventative self-care and pain management.
Executive Director, Stefanie Ince spoke with Erin Moon, Director and Co-Creator of the YP, to learn more about how the program started and what the future holds.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and the YP?
I grew up in Calgary, AB, Canada and I moved to New York City in early 2002. I lived in NYC for 13 years, graduating, what would be the first of many, Yoga Teacher Trainings in early 2005. Since then I have taken many more trainings and am now an 800hr Certified Yoga Therapist with IAYT; I have a 200hr Certification in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP), Yin Yoga and meridians, Thai Massage Level 1, and Reiki level 2.
Since 2009 I have taught many different aspects of Yoga in teacher trainings internationally. Much of my focus now, in teaching teachers, is in Functional Anatomy for Yoga Instructors in Prema Yoga Therapeutics Institute in NYC as well as many other programs worldwide. When I am home, I teach public classes and workshops in beautiful Vancouver Canada, where I now live.
I have always loved anatomy and it has been an absolute boon in the development of the YP. The whole team has great anatomy and biomechanics knowledge, which makes working with the spine care providers at WSC so thrilling for everyone involved.
How did you first come up with the idea of the YP?
It is not actually my brainchild! Former WSC Clinical Director Geoff Outerbridge was out jogging one day and the idea came to him: active self-care and pain management using the practices of yoga would be a great bio-psychosocial model for a community program offered by WSC.
When we met, Geoff and a group of about 10 yoga practitioners, including former Co-director/Creator, Barrie Risman were in the beginning stages of getting ideas down. Geoff and I happen to sit down at a table together, at an adult sleep away camp of all places, and he mentioned WSC and the potential of the YP. I said… “Well… that is funny because I am a Yoga Therapist and teacher of Yoga teachers, with a focus on Anatomy and have done international volunteer work in Africa and South America as well as work in hospitals”. Geoff smiled widely and said, “Well, looks like we have a lot to talk about.” I agreed.
The rest, as they say, is history. Very quickly, Barrie and I were hashing out the training program with Geoff there for guidance. That was all in early 2015. We went to Botswana for the first time in Spring 2016.
What has been your main source of inspiration for the YP?
When I first saw what was being brought together, I asked the question “Who are we trying to make this program for?” From Geoff’s response, it was very clear that we really needed to focus on being culturally sensitive and accessible to low mobility and pain populations. I had worked in the rift valley in Kenya and in a rural area of the Andes in Ecuador and had seen the cumulative wear and tear from the necessity of daily strenuous physical work in those areas. I also saw the great need to be gentle and culturally sensitive because of seeing NGO’s misstep by not being willing to ask questions and adapt, as well as seeing the need to provide capacity building whenever possible. This is a big tenant of WSC as a whole which made me thrilled to work with this organization!
Another resource for inspiration came from my therapeutics training and work in hospitals doing bedside Yoga with patients at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn. I realized that we needed to get really inspired by exploratory and accessible postures around chairs as well as making the breath and mindfulness practices accessible and easy to teach by the community for the community.
The feedback we have had over the years from our teachers, who themselves benefit from the practice, is very positive! The teachers in Shoshong village still practice weekly, offering classes to their community. They have told us of shifts in better sleeping patterns and pain management over the years which is a fundamental success in our books!
Stay tuned for Part 2!
Learn more about the World Spine Care Yoga Project here.