Seva, or selfless service, in yoga therapy

Meet the 2020 finalists for IAYT’s Seva Award

Seva (selfless service) is recognized in yogic traditions as a key to personal and spiritual transformation. As an act performed without any expectation of reward (or results), seva can profoundly change the person offering it—while benefiting individuals and communities alike.

IAYT’s Seva Award, presented with help from the Give Back Yoga Foundation, recognizes the efforts of yoga therapists who create change by sharing their work in unserved communities. Meet this year’s inspiring finalists!

Watch video clips about Mona’s impactful project here and here.

WINNER OF IAYT’s SEVA AWARD FOR 2020: Yoga Therapy for Immigrant and Refugee Women
Mona Flynn, MS, C-IAYT

Across time and culture, women have always been the foundation of their communities. Yet, whether in industrialized or emerging countries, women are still not full equals and are too often all but invisible in their communities. In the personal and professional experience of yoga therapist Mona Flynn, these women work hard to ensure the survival of their families and the success of their children. As an Arab American who arrived in the United States from Syria as an immigrant herself, Flynn understands the plight of refugees. She sees yoga therapy as having many tools to facilitate physical, mental, and spiritual self-care for these women.

The Oxygen Project’s Youth Yoga Curriculum Launch
Laurie Brockhaus, LCSW, C-IAYT, and Amber Howlett, E-RYT 200

The Oxygen Project has been serving youth since 2016, offering low- or no-cost yoga and mindfulness programs in partnership with schools and youth agencies. Many youth living in urban environments experience a tremendous amount of stress from poverty, violence in their neighborhoods, being bullied in school, and discrimination. This stress builds and negatively affects developing minds and bodies. Regular yoga practice may offer techniques to counter these ill effects by increasing the ability to concentrate, decreasing aggression, and encouraging emotional regulation. Learn how students in Laurie’s program are automatically applying learning from their classes to situations off the yoga mat in this video clip.

Hawai’i Yoga Prison Project
Louisa DiGrazia, C-IAYT

Since 1992, Louisa DiGrazia and the Hawai’i Yoga Prison Project have worked with populations in five correctional institutions on the island of Oahu. Their aim is to assist incarcerated individuals in rising to their fullest potential in consciousness and awareness through trauma-informed yoga practice and education. Louisa has also trained dozens of yoga teachers who have themselves gone on to start classes in prisons in other states. Here, she and her partner Tom share inspiration from incarcerated participants in their program, some of whom say yoga has enabled them to relax for the first time in their lives.

Integrating Yoga into a Medication-Assisted Treatment Program to Improve Retention

This project, part of Linda Davidson’s doctoral degree, offers yoga sessions to patients in a community health center’s medication-assisted treatment program for opioid dependence. Licensed clinical social workers and licensed professional counselors who are also yoga teachers facilitate the sessions, which aim to improve treatment compliance, quality of life, and cravings. The treatment program provides care to all, regardless of ability to pay. In this video, Linda shares how she’s seen somatic therapy affect participants’ lives for the better. As one student put it, “This is the first time I have not felt like an addict. Drugs are what I did, not who I am.”

The YogaBLUEprint for Advanced Age and Living
Stacey Reynolds, C-IAYT

Stacey Reynolds has been serving the senior adult population in North Little Rock, Arkansas, for more than 19 years, sparked by the love of the grandparents who helped raise her. Her YogaBLUEprint practice for senior adults aims to cultivate strength and stability, thus improving both mental and physical balance. Some students have been able to lessen dependence on canes and walkers; others have gained sufficient strength to stand rather than using a wheelchair. Meet Stacey as she shares inspiration from her students, who are up to 104 years old, and learn why they call yoga their “fountain of youth.”


Please join us in congratulating all of the finalists for the 2020 Seva Award, which recognizes meaningful service in the field of yoga therapy!

Read more about these IAYT-certified yoga therapists and their work in the Summer 2020 issue of Yoga Therapy Today.