Announcing Our 2022 Scholars Program Recipients

accessible yoga association announcements bipoc teachers community celebration disabled teachers equity financial accessibility queer teachers queer yoga representation scholars program teacher education teachers to watch trans teachers trans yoga trauma-informed yoga yoga for bipoc yoga teacher training Mar 24, 2022
A header with photos of five grant recipients in a grid.

Begun in 2021 with the opening of its first application round, The Accessible Yoga Association’s Scholars Program seeks to support diversity in yoga by offering direct funding for yoga practitioners with marginalized identities to become yoga teachers. The program offers grants of $1,000 towards the tuition of a basic yoga teacher certification program. Recipients may use their awards towards whatever teacher training program they choose.

This year we were able to award six $1000 scholarship grants to applicants from our first round. We're excited to introduce you to our 2022 awardees. (Note that one of our six awardees opted to remain anonymous.)

LeShonne W. Segura (she/her/ella) - Chicago, Illinois, USA

"Yoga is calling me. I have over 10 years of experience working in the education sector in Chicago. In my heart, I know that serving my community goes beyond the classroom. This is why I am interested in a yoga teacher training. I know I have the skills to effectively teach, communicate, and create a safe environment for students to learn. In a world ruled by capitalism, patriarchy, racism and classism, yoga can create a space for students to feel like for even just a few minutes that hierarchy is removed. Today, more than ever, people are looking for rest and restoration, and I'm hoping to be able to bring this liberatory practice to the communities that need it the most.

In 2022, my goal is to become a certified yoga instructor so that I can bring accessible and healing yoga to more BIPOC, queer and disabled folks in Chicago. I'd also love to serve youth and BIPOC public school teachers, a network I am already a part of and serving."

LeShonne is pursuing her initial yoga teacher training at Big Shoulders Yoga in Chicago.

Revathy Sembuganathan (she/her/hers) - Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

"Through yoga teacher training, I hope to deepen my personal practice, become even more ingrained in the philosophy of yoga, learn more about the history and practice of yoga and eventually become confident enough to teach.

Yoga teacher training seemed like a natural next step in combining several of my passions like Ayurveda, Meditation, Holistic Healing, Story Telling, Social Justice and Prevention of Family Violence. I would like to learn how to teach trauma informed yoga to the broader community. I hope that I can bring some of the lessons/messages I’ve learned through my lived experience with trauma to my future yoga students/participants. I also hope I can bring lessons from teacher training to be integrated into my personal practice and eventually applying those skills learned in the teacher training course at other avenues.

Since I’ve found yoga, I’ve become fascinated with the practice and how it has changed and shaped my personal trauma recovery journey. I know in practicing for the past few years, I’ve been forever changed, and I’d look forward to the opportunity to introduce others to the practice through teaching.

Upon completion of the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, I intend to contribute my time teaching trauma informed yoga classes for the organisations in Victoria, Australia supporting women and children escaping from family domestic violence. These classes will not be limited to survivors of torture and trauma but also catered towards those workers involved in the workforce supporting victims/survivors. I also intend to conduct a research/pilot project in delivering multilingual yoga classes for people from culturally and linguistically diverse background. My ultimate dream would be to deliver the methodology of trauma informed yoga to my country-of-origin (Malaysia) because there are many displaced asylum seekers, refugees and people from minority ethnic background who do not have access or limited access for yoga and evidence based mental health interventions. I’m committed to helping others like me find that freedom, that growth, a future that may be unknown but is so unbelievably exciting."

Revathy is pursuing her initial teacher training at the Rishikesh Yogis Yogashala in Rishikesh, India.

Edward Willis - Surf City, North Carolina, USA

I am an African-American, and I suffered a massive stroke in 2013 that left me without the use of my right arm and difficulty with walking. Yoga, which I started after the stroke, has been an important part of my recovery effort. I found many of the exercises taught in rehabilitation classes were the same ones yoga. I cannot over stress yoga's impact on my rehabilitation. I started yoga in 2013 as part of an Indiana University study to see if yoga had an impact on balance, walking speed, etc. in stroke survivors. It did. After the study, I found a yoga studio to continue my practice. Yoga was the only athletic form that welcomed a disabled me. This was important to staying active and self esteem. I have been active in yoga since then.

I want to attend teacher training to: 1) Continue my studies. I am only a beginner. I have much to unlock regarding meditation, anatomy, history, philosophy, etc., and 2) I want to make yoga more accessible to all. Many don't know the benefits of yoga, physical and mental, and my story can illustrate that. I would be open to teaching all communities, but especially in African-American, low-income, and disabled communities."

Edward is considering training programs with Breathe for Change online or at Yoga Divine in Holly Ridge, North Carolina.

Lauren Walker (they/them/their) - Rhode Island, USA

"I have worked as a preschool teacher and have enjoyed teaching movement classes! I also want to expand my healing knowledge and abilities to help a larger group of people. I am currently running a holistic healing business where I offer tarot readings and art!

I am already highly trauma informed and took many professional development classes during my time as a preschool teacher. I want to help heal individuals with trauma and other mental issues, as well as the LGBTQ community & women."

Lauren is pursuing their initial teacher training at Sangha Studio in Burlington, Vermont. 

Harry López (he/him/his) - Miami, Florida, USA

"I have always had it in my heart to one day participate in a teacher training program and to be one of the few latino yoga teachers instructing in Miami and around the world - I know there are very few of us.

I also believe a training program would give me the accountability and container to deepen in my own practice and knowledge of how to go deeper into my self so that I can continue facing my own personal demons and challenges on the mat and learn the proper technique and protocol for stances and poses and how to support others in doing the same.

My hope is to create bilingual classes and bring yoga to underserved latino communities and communities that would otherwise not have access to attending yoga classes. I’m really inspired by the work of Yoga Foster- and can envision myself bringing yoga to children - particularly children of color in underserved communities and neighborhoods. My background is as an elementary school teacher and education leader and I have always had a tender place in my heart for advancing mindfulness and personal development in our youth."

Harry is persuing his initial teacher training at Ahana Yoga in Miami.

Celebrate With Us!

Our 2022 AYA Community Celebration is coming up on May 30th!

The Accessible Yoga Association Scholars Program is funded by our annual celebration and fundraiser, held each spring. The AYA Community Celebration, hosted over Zoom, includes a silent auction, additional giving opportunities, the announcement of our Ambassador of the Year and Organization of the Year awardees, musical entertainment, and more!

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022
4-5pm PT (Los Angeles) // 7-9pm ET (New York City)

RSVP Now >>

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