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First Person: San Diego Nonprofit Brings Yoga To Those Trying To Rebuild Their Lives

June 19, 2017 1:14 p.m.

First Person: San Diego Nonprofit Brings Yoga To Those Trying To Rebuild Their Lives


JoAnn Jaffe, founder and CEO, OG Yoga

Related Story: First Person: San Diego Nonprofit Brings Yoga To Those Trying To Rebuild Their Lives


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

It is KPBS Midday Edition. It's time for another installment of our series first-person stories of San Diego residents told in their own voice. Wednesday is being celebrated around the world is the international day of yoga. Joanne Jaffe founded a San Diego nonprofit that brings yoga to those who may not only be exposed to the practice. Here is her story.
Yoga has helped me make a complete transformation in both the physical and mental sense as well as the spiritual and emotional sense. Because of the transformation that I went through that I wanted to bring this to as many people as I could. My name is Joanne and I am the founder of OG yoga. Basically we are delivering yoga to those who cannot come into a studio. Those individuals facing extreme challenging life circumstances like poverty, abuse, incarceration, PTSD, aging, at risk youth, and even visually impaired.
I have been watching for years certain statistics go up like the level of homelessness. I live downtown so I literally watch the face of homelessness explode and change in terms of what it looks like. Poverty. The aging population is getting bigger and I was dedicated to providing access to these individuals in their healing and transformation in their lives. There is a yoga explosion going on in the United States and the world currently 36 million Americans practice yoga if you look at the demographics of who is practicing the diversity is growing but it does not include the individuals that I just talk about. That is where we can make a mark. We can help.
A lot of people that we teach are in great physical pain. To get some relief from that pain is a wonderful benefit. The lessons that we teach on the map are geared to be taken off the map. They can take these breathing techniques and this stretching and some of this posture work back with them and to do it on their own to continue to alleviate pain and create a sense of well-being. Once we cannot wisdom it took me years of not decades to do that. Want to get a taste for the transformation is overwhelming because you are able to write out an uncomfortable emotion. Through the breath. That is what OG yoga is all about. It is inviting individuals to reconnect through the body. Sometimes people in deep trauma that are storing trauma in the body have lost this connection.
One of our original students at the corrections partnership the women who get into the program there 45 days to two years out from being released and they were ankle bracelets. They are called clients and they can wear street clothes and after a certain amount of time I walked to the college and they have mentorship programs and rehabilitation programs and OG yoga. She was released from prison after about 12 months of taking our classes and she relates to wearing that ankle bracelet as being the biggest reminder of the biggest mistake she has ever made in her life. A DUI felony that had her incarcerated for a number of years. It was through the classes which he learned a sense of calm and who she was and belief in herself because she now has an apartment and she is working and she is back in school and she is on a traveling debate team.
If we are a year and a half into this and have a prediction -- I spent a lot of my time fundraising. All I need to do is go to one of our classes and I know with all of my heart and soul that this is the right line of work this is what is needed and what is working.
This was produced by our KPBS director Ruth.