It was a month into working with my business coach (she’s helping me be business savvy while also being service-minded and heart-centered). Her eyes lit up with excitement, “Are you sure you don’t want to just start a non-profit?!”
It wasn’t a wild idea. It’s something I’ve dreamed of for years. Now that I’ve made the leap to serve others full-time as a yoga therapist and rewilding guide, why not go all the way and build a non-profit model that helps bridge access and education gaps for as many people as possible? It was an alluring prospect and one that I hold tenderly for the future but now is not the time. Before I commit to working nearly full-time behind a computer again, I am needed on the ground, to help my community, one person at a time, find wellness, balance, joy, healing, power, and purpose!
It was perfectly sensible that my business coach suggested this because I was always talking about my SEVA, my service work.
Before I became a yoga therapist, I worked in advocacy for the environment. My colleagues expected and accepted intense physical, emotional, mental, and energetic exertion and a general state of being in subtle exhaustion. Fatigue in any one of those layers of being warrants time to rest, recuperate, and rebuild immunity and resilience, but time for rest seemed to elude us. They cared so much about their work that they never really clocked out at the end of the day – it was with them in the evening, on the weekend, during family meals, and in the quiet moments of their lives. The success or failure of their effort had tangible impacts on the state of the world and our future, it's a lot of weight to bear! As “givers” and “leaders” of this effort, they rarely took time to balance work with personal care and wellness. That’s not even to speak of the stress of the actual work, the collective trauma and grief of climate change, environmental degradation, mismanagement, and lack of respect for our resources, and the sometimes isolation of a person passionate about a values-led career.
I no longer speak for the trees as a profession, but as a yoga therapist and rewilding guide, I have powerful tools for helping those who do!
And there are other givers and leaders out there working to protect our health and wellness, equity, access, and inclusion, as well as our natural world. They likely resonate with the description above. I’ve identified four groups of givers and leaders whose mental health and wellness I plan to support:
Environmental Advocates (anyone working toward the wellness, sustainability, and sovereignty of our natural world).
Social Justice Activists (anyone working in the field of equity, access, and justice).
Mental Health Providers (and supporters and advocates).
First Responders & Nurses.
I’ve put together two kinds of therapeutic group experiences. In a community of people with shared life experiences and similar values, participants can feel seen, validated, and understood in a deep way. They can build trust and connection with others that support their trust and connection with themselves. They can learn from the uniqueness of each participant and share in the education and expansion of their community. This collective experience can buttress their personal lives, inner lives, and professional goals.
Group yoga therapy invites participants to quiet the cognitive mind, connect purposefully and profoundly to the body and their other layers of being to understand their mind and behavior, access wisdom, regulate the nervous system, and develop skills for managing stress and moving through life. Interest or experience in yoga is not necessary as this is not a yoga class. It’s a group therapy experience that uses the body as the primary vehicle for understanding and change.
Rewilding invites participants to log out of the mundane structure and limitations of a life lived within walls and behind blue screens, tune into their senses and the rich, dynamic qualities of the natural world we were meant to inhabit, and connect to their inner wild, a vibrant spark of life and knowing that connects intimately and in reciprocity with the more-than-human world. Rewilding reduces heart rate and blood pressure, helps regulate the stress response, reframes our relationship with story and the Self, and can free us from what’s not important.
These SEVA group therapy experiences are free for participants because I am committed to removing as many barriers as possible to accessing and experiencing this work for these communities. The space for group yoga therapy has been generously donated by Main Street Landing through the end of 2024!! (That’s all I’ve scheduled so far.) Mats for group yoga therapy have been generously donated by the Give Back Yoga Foundation and Lululemon.
To spread the word about this work I am partnering with organizations around the state. Vermont Cooperative for Practice Improvement & Innovation has stepped up to share these opportunities with the mental health community. 350Vermont is reaching out to the environmental advocacy community. I am still looking to partner with a social justice organization and an organization representing first responders or nurses. I can also partner with more than one organization per community, in this case, more is better! If you belong to or have a personal connection to a decision-maker in an organization that serves or is comprised of one of the above communities, please email me!
If you belong to one of these communities, please sign up to join an experience! Every person deserves a chance to pause, take an hour or two just for them, for the simple and sole purpose of becoming present and reconnecting to Self. Give yourself permission to just BE for a little while without doing, and be reminded of your humanity, curiosity, and even sense of play and freedom, your value is more than the service you do for others.
Learn more and sign up at oggibe.com/seva! If you have questions or want to discuss this effort with me, please feel free to email me or schedule a consultation. Please share about this with as many people as you can! Let’s partner to uplift those who lift us all!