Yoga For All

Yoga Village fills a community need

Yogavillage Story

It takes a village and Wilmington’s Yoga Village is proof of that. Building community with each breath, Yoga Village cultivates local partnerships by sharing the benefits of yoga.

Co-founded in 2013 by HEATHER LILLY and SYLVIA JABALEY, the aim is to unite the yoga community with schools and health and human service providers. “So many yoga teachers here in town tried to start yoga service programs at organizations where they felt compelled to support vulnerable neighbors by introducing yoga,” says Jabaley. “But none of them could sustain it because there was a lack of volunteers.”

Jabaley realized there was a gap in the market. There were groups that wanted yoga and teachers who wanted to teach, she says.

“Yoga Village seeks to fill that gap by building the partnerships and paying the teacher,” Jabaley adds.

Now up and running, Yoga Village teachers are spreading their yoga knowledge to the local area. For one Lilly, yoga as a service became her passion. She facilitates yoga sessions at Families First, an organization serving those who have experienced domestic abuse and sexual assault, LINC residential facility for the formerly incarcerated, NHRMC Behavioral Health Hospital in-patient facility as well as Communities in Schools Young Parents Circle.

EMILY BYRUM, Yoga Village board of director’s secretary and chair, taught yoga to incarcerated women at the New Hanover County jail. “I’m excited to be a part of Yoga Village and the accessibility the organization brings to our community.”

Yoga Village is currently made up of ten board members. Most of the board are yoga teachers but not necessarily for Yoga Village. The rest of the board are all advocates for our programs because they know that they work, Lilly says.

“At Yoga Village, we see ourselves as bridge builders,” says Lilly. “Our board members and facilitators are embedded within the communities we serve. So, many of the times our requests for sessions come from word-of-mouth referrals.”

The benefits of yoga have been proven and the teachers at Yoga Village are keen to educate the community about them. Yoga Village also holds events throughout the area and one of its more popular ones is Battleship Yoga. Recently, a class was taught by local yogi Tamal Dodge of Yoga Salt Wilmington. His goal is to help you “be in the world but not of the world and to become truly peaceful and happy and to make yoga a lifestyle.”⁠

Echoing the benefits of the exercise and what it brings to the community, Jabaley says, “Yoga works from the inside out, providing a calming effect for individuals and preparing them to carry that calm effect into their daily lives and relationships.”

Lilly, who is executive director, has deep pride in the work Yoga Village does. “It is an honor for me to serve as executive director,” she says. “I am aware of the incredible trust that our host organizations place in us each time we are asked to facilitate trauma-sensitive yoga and mindfulness services,” she says. “The time I spend facilitating is challenging but incredibly empowering. There are so many moments of incredible growth and such sweet connection. This type of work is my calling, and I am grateful every day that I can call Yoga Village my home.”

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Categories: Health