It all started with my personal journey into practicing yoga when I was a teen.
I would love to share my story with you so that you know the intention behind why Wymbin was created–and the big impact on the world that we are striving towards making.
By starting with today’s youth, together we can change the world.
I wrote this in a letter to myself 9 years ago in 2012 when I was just beginning on this journey. I had finished high school and had entered my third year of Health Sciences under the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary. I was ready to do something bigger than myself even though I didn’t quite know how. All I knew was that this amazing practice called ‘yoga’ needed to be shared in an accessible and meaningful way with young people so that they could build the tools and skills needed to navigate the challenges of daily life.
I was finally figuring out the path I wanted to pursue–although it had taken a very challenging journey to get to that point, and things weren’t going to get any easier for quite a while.
After starting my third year of studies, things quickly became overwhelming and the challenges I had been struggling with since mid-high school began to take over all aspects of my life. I was forced to drop out of school and was shortly after hospitalised as things had gotten extremely bad. I had been struggling with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. My mental health was suffering and I could no longer uphold all of the expectations I had set for myself. It was devastating and I felt incredibly guilty for how this impacted the people around me too.
The one constant that I found myself coming back to throughout this time was my yoga practice. It was the only place I felt I could really breathe. It was the only place I could look at myself in the mirror and not pass judgement or feel shame. I practiced nearly every day at a local studio–during this time I met some of the instructors who have helped me to build the Wymbin community into what it is today. I loved the messages the instructors shared at the end of class–sometimes it was exactly what I needed to hear to keep pushing through that day. The ability to solely focus on connecting to my body and breath helped ‘distract’ me in a mindful way that then allowed me to connect more deeply with myself and my thought process. It was very healing and a positive constant through this time.
After working through being in the hospital and finally obtaining the supports I needed, I began to think about other teens and kids who might not have the same opportunities that I had had. The experience in the healthcare system had not been the greatest, and challenges to accessibility and navigating it all made me think about how hard it might be for others to get the help and support they may really need. I started reflecting on the work I had been doing during my research at the Centre for Research and Disability Studies with Dr. Gregor Wolbring. I had been working on an autism research grant and through this time I realized that there were not many affordable and/or accessible supports to these children that focused on preventative health measures.
During my Health Sciences degree, we had learned the importance of an ‘upstream’ approach to health. Our healthcare system is designed to address the most urgent threats to health, but many of these negative health outcomes could be prevented or mitigated through other, ‘upstream’ approaches (or early intervention). I thought about what my journey would have been like if I had discovered yoga as a child and the different outcomes I may have experienced had I learned these important tools and skills from an early age.
Because I was no longer in school, I started volunteering with my mum, a school teacher, every now and then. The children’s optimism and positivity was so inspiring. Each time I would go in to help mum with little classroom tasks, the children would excitedly share stories, toys, artwork, and other little gems with me. Their genuine nature and optimistic outlook on life was contagious.
All of these experiences suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks–what if we were able to bring yoga to young people in a fun, meaningful, and engaging way? What kinds of negative health outcomes could we prevent? What kind of community connection could we foster? How could we support each other through this practice?
Fast forward nine years and we have built two studios, trained over 800 yoga instructors across North America, travelled with Wanderlust Festival to provide Family Yoga programming in the States and Canada, and spent five years at the Alberta Children’s Hospital providing yoga programming for the children & youth who were patients in the mental health unit. We now have a physical space, in Inglewood, where we have built an incredible early learning and childcare program–a place where ‘the seeds can be planted’ and our youngest learners can begin to discover a connection to themselves, their peers, their community, and the world around them. We also offer classes and camps for all ages. Beyond the walls of our studio, we also work with schools and organizations to provide our Mind + Move Program. This allows us to connect with new communities and educate students, educators, and school communities on how they can use mindfulness, movement, mental health, and community to build sustainable environments where everyone can thrive.
This year, we are expanding our yoga teacher training outreach to new cities and look forward to connecting with individuals all across Canada to share our approach to sharing this practice with children, teens, and families. The Wymbin Yoga Teacher Training Program is Yoga Alliance Certified and has been recognized as a leading training in this field.
We offer both an Introductory and Advanced Teacher Training. No prior yoga experience is required to dive right in and begin learning.
This year, we will be offering our Introductory Training in the following locations:
Calgary, Alberta: Wymbin Inglewood Studio: January 28th - 30th, 2022
Halifax, Nova Scotia: Location TBA: April 29th - May 1st, 2022
Vancouver, British Columbia: Location TBA: July 22nd - 24th. 2022
We know that times are uncertain and so each training has the opportunity to participate virtually so that you can feel comfortable while being a part of this experience.
The time is now to support our youngest as they navigate the challenges following this pandemic, on top of the other struggles they may face navigating their formative and developmental years.
If you are interested in participating in our teacher training and/or have questions about our program, please email email@example.com. I would be happy to provide you with more information and/or point you in the right direction!
By starting with today’s youth, together we can change the world.
It starts here.
Be a part of the movement! Find out more at www.wymbin.com/teachertraining
- Jenna Galloway
Jenna Galloway is the Founder and Director of Wymbin– advocating for education and mental wellness for youth. Her focus is to provide opportunities for youth to thrive by building their capacity through meaningful connection.
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