Niroga News and Media
A Rifle Range in a School? Indeed, Oakland High School used to have a rifle range on campus, built by the JROTC (military recruitment) folks, but it is currently being used for yoga. An Oak High school teacher, who is trained in Niroga's Transformative Life Skills and is currently completing the Niroga Certified Yoga Teacher Training program, took it upon herself to transform the rifle range into a healing sanctuary, a safe space for transformative practice.
Building on the success of school programs in San Diego, and the growing need for our Dynamic Mindfulness programs throughout Southern California, Niroga celebrates its 10th birthday by opening a branch office in Los Angeles, with Coleen Armstrong-Yamamura as Program Manager.
I was recently asked the question, "Why are you so passionate about schools adopting dynamic mindfulness?" Although there are many logical and scientifically supported answers to that question, the answer that came from my heart was, "For Lawrence."
A concerned parent from a high-performing Silicon Valley high school reached out for help recently, after another student at that school had committed suicide. While parents, teachers, counselors and administrators were frantically looking for solutions, the students were vocal at a recent school board meeting.
One in 30 Americans is either in prison, on parole or on probation, and the US has one of the highest incarceration rates for youth and adults in the world. Not only is this a colossal waste of human potential, but also given that 3 out of 4 people released go right back in, this trillion-dollar revolving door is not financially sustainable. Additionally, there is disproportionate representation of minorities in the criminal justice population.
Building on her presentation at the annual meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Professor Lynette Lee from the Division of Criminal Justice at California State University, Sacramento recently wrote a paper on Evidence-Based Criminal Justice Practices and Transformative Life Skills.
Given the pervasive presence of hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and asthma in our communities, and especially in underserved communities, and that 75% of every dollar spent on health care goes to treatment of chronic diseases, a series of exciting partnerships are forming to provide avenues for deploying Niroga trained yoga therapists.
For several years, we have been comprehensively training yoga teachers and health professionals to become excellent yoga therapists.
Summarizing the results from 32 Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs), researchers published a recent paper on the effectiveness of yoga for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, in the journal Preventive Cardiology.
Two recently published research papers make a compelling case for the efficacy of Yoga for healing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and mindfulness for helping overcome childhood adversity.
Discussing healthy living, the Mayo Clinic notes: “Stress and Anxiety are everywhere. If they are getting the best of you, you may want to give yoga a try…The potential health benefits of yoga include stress reduction, improved fitness, and management of chronic conditions.” Since 75% of our health care dollars goes to treatment of chronic conditions, ubiquitous dissemination of Healing Yoga could have a pervasive impact on our health and well-being, while saving us billions of dollars annually.
It was on one of those clear, brisk autumn mornings when people began streaming in for Niroga's Annual Benefit. Attendees gathered at the buffet, and soon the dining tables were lively with conversation over brunch. Niroga showcased school administrators from both Oakland and San Diego, who talked about the transformation of their students and their schools through Niroga's in-class dynamic mindfulness curriculum.
Watch a brief message from BK, the Executive Director, on the possibility of changing the world through yoga. "Why would yoga make a difference to the world? What does yoga have to contribute? We spend so much time, so much energy on trying to fix our external environment. In many ways whether its institutions, social structures, governments, leaders; how much time do we spend correspondingly, on taking care of our internal environments?
Many young lives are at crossroads, and the road often taken by at-risk youth leads to crime and violence, guns and gangs, drugs and death. Yet some choose the road less traveled. Stacy chose to practice yoga at Street Academy, an alternative high school in Oakland. He chose to join our Mindful Mentoring and Peer Leadership program. He chose to become a member of the steering committee of our Youth Advisory Council.
Mentoring by caring adults has been shown to have a measurable impact on the life trajectories of youth. Mindfulness, neuroscientists have concluded, is essential to mental training for positive youth development. Niroga integrates both into its Mindful Mentoring program, where vulnerable youth are matched with mentors, who help them develop and sustain their personal transformative practices, enabling healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices.
It is not often that a head of state discusses transformative practices such as Yoga at the UN General Assembly, the policy-making organ comprising all 193 members of the United Nations. Yet that is just what the Prime Minister of India recently did. He said, “Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being. It is not about exercise, but about discovering the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change."
"Darrell" was a challenge! A sixth-grader in an inner-city school in Philadelphia, his teachers felt he was defiant, aggressive, inattentive and impulsive – quite a handful. After Niroga’s one-day Transformative Life/Leadership Skills (TLS) training, the assistant principal, Ryane, felt up to the challenge and tested her training by working with Darrell on TLS. After just a few minutes of mindful movement and rhythmic breathing together, Ryane felt a shift. "It was nothing dramatic, but I could sense a subtle difference in Darrell as he left my office that day," she said.
Even 15 minutes of mindful Action, Breathing and Centering (ABCs) have been shown to have a profound impact on brain and behavior, provided it is done often enough. Researchers have found that even such a brief intervention, done in the classroom thrice a week or more, has measurable impact. As a result of these findings, we designed a TLS curriculum with 48 brief lessons, which could be delivered in an academic semester (three times/week x 16 weeks).
The Journal of Applied School Psychology in its February issue published a study that Transformative Life Skills or TLS is effective in reducing “anxiety, depression and global psychological distress”. TLS has been taught in many schools and alternative schools for over nine years. The study, “Effectiveness of a School-Based Yoga Program on Adolescent Mental Health, Stress Coping Strategies, and Attitudes Toward Violence: Findings from a High-Risk Sample,” was led by Jennifer L. Frank, of Prevention Research Center at Pennsylvania State University.
Brishana was just 2 years old when her mother was murdered near her home. She moved in with her father, but he passed away when she was only 9. While other youth her age were barely graduating from high school, Brishana was already living on her own and providing for herself with a full-time job. When she was 20, she found a sense of family within a Niroga photo-voice project, which led her to join our Yoga Teacher training program.
Almost every adolescent experiencing a mental health emergency is dealing with chronic stress, traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress. Multiple strands of research including neuroscience, somatic psychology and trauma research show that Mindful Yoga is optimal for emotion regulation.
The International Association of Yoga Therapy (IAYT) will be holding its annual research conference in Massachusetts. The Symposium on Yoga Research (SYR) showcases some of the latest research in yoga therapy, including keynote speakers, invited oral presentations and poster sessions.
In a recent paper published in the Journal of Applied School Psychology, independent researchers studying the effects of the Niroga Transformative Life Skills (TLS) program in an inner-city alternative high school, found compelling results that span major domains of social function, including education, health care and violence prevention.
Since last August when Niroga conducted a TLS training for all 30 staff at King-Chavez Arts and Athletics Academies in Southeast San Diego, they have been doing TLS in every classroom, every school day. Teachers and students share their experiences.
The acclaimed Transformative Life Skills (TLS) training, conducted in-person for educators nationally and internationally, will soon be available online.
Key members of Niroga Institute traveled to Palestine to train educators, health professionals, social workers and refugee
service providers in Transformative Life/Leadership Skills (TLS) that have the potential to change thousands of lives.
Dawn knew she loved yoga and that she wanted to share it with her community, but what she did not know was how profoundly she would grow during the Teacher Training Program. "Niroga taught me to recognize areas of fear in myself and confront the fear with understanding and compassion."
"Our Niroga family taught me that yoga doesn't merely imply union; it creates it." Despite enduring a traumatic childhood and facing numerous life challenges, Will persevered and became a doctor. He worked tirelessly to become a surgeon, yet early into his career he had to leave the profession due a physical ailment that had plagued him for years. Will's life was in turmoil. He had practiced yoga on and off for most of his adult life, and was drawn to it as he struggled with his life's next steps. He was encouraged to join the Niroga Certified Teacher Training Program, and ten months later completed the program transformed.
Niroga Institute's comprehensive curriculum for secondary schools enables academic, social and emotional learning. Based on years of experience working with thousands of children and youth in schools and validated by independent research, this curriculum has elicited an overwhelmingly positive response from students and parents, classroom teachers and school-based behavioral health professionals all over the country and beyond.
When Niroga started at Oakland Technical High School with in-class TLS sessions, the teachers were cautiously optimistic. Most were not sure if their students would respond positively to yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation. Many were concerned about the value gained by taking 15 -30 minutes out of their lesson plans in social studies, english, science, and math for TLS. The classrooms ranged from Special Ed with 3 students to Honors Biology with 33 students.
Statement by Bidyut K. Bose, PhD, Founder and Executive Director, Niroga Institute
Niroga Institute's highly regarded, comprehensive 2-year Yoga Therapy Training Program prepares yoga teachers and health care professionals to become holistic healers, enhancing health and well being for themselves and those around them.
Four simple techniques you can use anywhere, anytime, to manage stress in just two minutes. Video clips and descriptive text show you how. Use this app at your desk, standing in line, waiting for an appointment - anywhere anytime - to become more calm and relaxed in moments.
Working with the particularly vulnerable students at De Anza High School in Richmond last semester, Niroga brought hour-long yoga classes twice a week to classrooms in the Transitional Education Placement (TEP) program, specifically for students with social/emotional special needs that typically translate into behavioral issues.
An independent Research Report finds that with TLS, "Students showed lower levels of perceived stress and greater levels of self-control, school engagement, emotional awareness, distress tolerance and altered attitude towards violence."
This is a Photovoice project by youth, capturing compelling images in their communities of "Stillness amidst Motion,"
"Contemplation amidst Action, or "Peace amidst Chaos.” Selected images will become BREATHE posters, banners and billboards, reminding viewers to slow down and take a deep breath.
A single mother of a child with special needs finds inner peace through yoga, and now aspires to teach yoga to low-income African Americans.
Alameda County public agencies, such as the Sheriff’s Office, Health Care Services, and Probation are partnering together along with NGOs, including Niroga Institute, to provide wraparound support services to the inmates of Santa Rita County Jail, in an effort to move it from a detention facility to more of a 'correctional family treatment center'.
January 31, 2011
BK Bose addresses claims and implications made by the article, and offers some solutions to help bring safe and effective yoga instruction to all population segments.
Anyone doing yoga is practicing mindfulness, and anyone practicing mindfulness is doing yoga! BK Bose explores the relationship between mindfulness and yoga.
August 6, 2011
Every Friday afternoon, 20-30 elementary school children prepare
themselves to take a yoga class. When the teacher enters the cafeteria,
the first cohort of students runs up to her smiling. "Can I help set up
the classroom today?" "Ms. Danielle, Ms. Danielle, can I help too?"
These 7-10 year-olds are enthusiastic about spending their Friday
afternoons in a Niroga yoga class.
August 5, 2011
BK Bose talks about the beginnings of Niroga, challenges, and the outlook for the future.
June 17, 2011
When Shelly was 16, doing Ecstasy and other drugs, and failing most of her classes, she never thought about turning 18, not to mention finishing high school or the future.
May 9, 2011
Defiance. That may be the most apt way to describe the first reaction of Natalie*, a student at the Emiliano Zapata Street Academy in Oakland, when she learned she would be participating in its new Niroga-led yoga program. Her Niroga yoga teacher, Annika, remembers that Natalie used to stand armed, refusing to take off her shoes during class, and swearing at the instructor.
Few could have guessed back then that Natalie would one day find herself not only embracing yoga, but also encouraging that practice in others as a peer educator, and even pursuing Niroga’s Integral Health Fellowship Yoga Teacher Training to become a Certified Yoga Teacher herself. “You can take yoga with you everywhere. You can apply it to all aspects of your life,” she said.
May 8 , 2011
Niroga representatives recently traveled to Los Angeles to conduct a comprehensive Transformative Life Skills (TLS) training for local agencies working with at-risk adolescents. Enhancing existing practice of mental health professionals, educators, and law enforcement with TLS can be a game-changer for positive youth development and a powerful catalyst at the organizational level, as the very positive response by training attendees showed.
May 8, 2011
Turning 90 is no small feat—and what better way to spend the big birthday than with some of your peers and friends? For Joe, who recently turned 90 himself, attending BK Bose’s weekly Yoga Class for Seniors was the perfect way to celebrate the very special day. Every week this Niroga Center class provides an opportunity for 60+ year-olds to come together in a physical space that allows them to feel strong and determined.
November 10 , 2010
Niroga has trained over 200 Yoga Teachers, including many of color, to serve vulnerable populations with cultural congruence and linguistic sensitivity. We have also trained over 100 adult providers, such as educators and mental health professionals, who work with youth in structured settings such as schools and juvenile halls.
In a few hours, we can train anyone in these transformative skills, which can be used for personal stress management and self-care, as well in professional settings with students and clients.
April 8 , 2010
At the Benefit for Haiti Relief held March 28, 2010 at the Niroga Center, yoga students and other attendees donated $400, which was given to Builders without Borders for rebuilding in Haiti and Haiti Emergency Relief to purchase medications to go to mobile clinics in the encampments used by Haitian and American clinicians in Port Au Prince....
March 11 , 2010
Niroga selects and trained minority young adults to become Certified Yoga Teachers, preparing them to serve their own communities. We are pleased to announce that the first graduated Class of 2009 has already voluntarily brought the transformative practice of yoga into the following communities...
March 11 , 2010
How do we build communities that are vibrant and thriving with ubiquitous health and well-being? Niroga is part of two cross-sector initiatives at the city and county level, in Oakland (East Oakland Building Healthy Communities) and Alameda County (Building Blocks Collaborative) exploring the answers to this question.
Feb 9, 2010
John Friend, the founder of Anusara Yoga, taught a benefit class to the Bay Area Anusara Yoga teachers in order to raise money for Niroga Institute. Photo/Video
International Journal of Yoga Therapy article by BK Bose - October 2009
As a prevention and intervention
strategy, Yoga has the potential to substantially impact our physical health.
But is it possible that the impact of Yoga therapy could extend well beyond that? Have we defined the field too narrowly by focusing primarily on individual health and well-being? Can therapeutic Yoga transform education, community crime and violence, or global sustainability?
Notes from our Programs - October 2009
The kids at Nystrom are so much fun! They love sun salutations and 'sleepy' time. There are between 15 and 20 boys and girls in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades in our after-school class, which is held twice a week. There are a few students with ADHD, some whose families are currently homeless (and will talk about moving around a lot), some who have recently, or repeatedly, witnessed violence, and others with physical aggression issues.... read more
Notes from our Programs - October 2009
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... read more
Niroga participated in The Teachers for Social Justice conference on October 10, 2009 at Mission High School in San Francisco. Teachers for Social Justice is a grassroots non-profit teacher support and development organization providing opportunities for self-transformation, leadership, and community building to ~1,500 educators to affect meaningful change in the classroom, school, community and society... read more
Niroga’s annual benefit was held on October 3, 2009. read article
Notes from our Programs - August 2009
The young man in our Niroga class is 15 years old and has been in a gang since he was 12. He is scheduled to be transferred to California Youth Authority (CYA) from Juvenile Hall. One of his good friends was recently transferred to CYA and shortly after his arrival was put in the hospital by a rival gang member for two weeks due to a fight. I have been concerned that when our student arrives at the “Y”, he might feel compelled to retaliate in order to defend his friend. read more
Notes from our Programs - August 2009
For the last three weeks, I have had the pleasure of teaching yoga at one of our drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in Oakland. It is very inspiring to watch a group of individuals going through detox and withdrawals, let their guards down, put their trust in me as well as their own breath, and find a place of total peace and relaxation within themselves. read more
With Integral Health Fellowships (IHF) provided by the Alameda County Department of Public Health via Bay Area Black United Fund, 13 young adults of color graduated from a rigorous 2-year Training Program of Niroga Institute. Each Fellow is committed to offering 100 hours of community service in a pay-forward model, so that vulnerable populations in our community will benefit from 1,300 hours of community service this year by this trained team of certified yoga teachers. read more
A pilot program funded by Full Circle Fund brought the Niroga Transformative Life Skills (TLS) program – a 15-minute protocol including yoga, breathing techniques and meditation – to 15 classrooms with 472 students at El Cerrito High School during the Fall 2008 semester. Students and teachers were enthusiastic about the work, and research to assess the impact of the work showed promising results... read more
BK Bose. Press Release: November 2006
Through the regular practice of Yoga, breath work, and meditation, Niroga is teaching Bay Area youth essential life skills. Jointly funded by Alameda County's Probation Department and Health Care Services Agency, Niroga began a program at Juvenile Justice Center, bringing Yoga to incarcerated youth five days a week, and to their staff once a week... full press release (PDF)
Kriz Bell. Press Release: July 2006
Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland is ground zero for local community transformation. On Saturday September 9, 2006, Yoga For Peace, Niroga Institute, and East Bay Community Mediation are joining forces to increase local awareness and support for programs helping to heal our fractured communities by teaching them tools to help themselves, giving a hand-up instead of a hand-out. Similar events will take place in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Maui, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and Dubai. full press release (PDF)