Sonima Foundation announces expansion of yoga programs in San Diego, New York

At its open house in Encinitas last night, the Sonima Foundation announced that it has — without the opposition it faced initially — expanded its yoga-in-school program to two other San Diego County schools and to New York.

The U-T San Diego has the story (not seeing anything yet at Sonima’s blog):

In San Diego County, the program has been in practice at the Monarch School for homeless children for about a year. For the past three months, it also has been in a pilot program at two schools in the Cajon Valley Union School District.


Ruffin said the program also has been smoothly introduced in inner-city New York schools. The program is in three schools in the Harlem Village Academy charter school, Broome Street Academy for homeless children and East Community High School.

Ruffin read a letter from the East Community High principal, who praised the program.

“One student after another has come to me and said yoga allows them to relax and focus,” he said.

The story also says that the initial year of a three-year study on the Sonima yoga program in Encinitas has shown positive results — no details, though.

Update, April 25:

A little more light on things.

From KPBS:

The University of San Diego has preliminary research showing students who practiced the yoga classes had more core strength and flexibility than students who did not, as measured in state fitness exams.

The Sonima Foundation, which sponsors the school based yoga classes, held an open house in Encinitas. Executive director Gene Ruffin said yoga is a prudent way to improve the health of children.

“The way we use it is a cost-effective means towards stress reduction, flexibility, the California Physical Fitness Test,” he said. “Our kids are doing better who take yoga.”

Ruffin said other school districts around the country are enquiring about the program. Each school district and pilot site develops a custom program to suit its student population, he said. All programs include yoga time on the mat and Common Core state standards for physical education.

And the Coast News:

At Broome Street Academy, a school that serves homeless and foster-care teens in New York City, students have been doing yoga since January. The template for their program: Encinitas Union School District yoga.

“I’m actually surprised at how it’s been embraced,” said Barbara McKeon, Head of School at Broome Street Academy. “Even the hard-nosed streetball guys are doing downward dog.”

In 2011, a representative from the Sonima Foundation, previously known as the Jois Foundation, introduced yoga at Capri Elementary in Encinitas. Encouraged by the results, in 2012 the organization put together a $700,000 grant for yoga and nutrition at EUSD schools.

That was followed by a $1.4 million grant from the foundation for this school year, which increased the number of yoga teachers at all nine district schools.

Drawing from EUSD best practices, the Sonima Foundation developed a yoga curriculum.

The foundation has since exported the program to 10 schools over the past year, including in Florida and New York. In the county, yoga has made its way to two schools in the Cajon Valley Union School District and the Monarch School in San Diego.

McKeon said she’s grateful for the program because her average student doesn’t have a lot of exercise opportunities. And many are grappling with social and emotional issues.

Why does Broome Street sound familiar?

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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