What is Service Yoga?: An Introduction

service yoga

This article originally appeared on OG Yoga’s blog. OG Yoga is a local non-profit that brings trauma-informed, mindfulness-based yoga to underserved and vulnerable communities in San Diego.

You are an eight-year old boy who was picked up off the streets by a social worker and enrolled in a classroom with dozens of new faces – and no parental support when you get to your new “home.” How do you manage your stress, fear and anxiety?

You are a thirty-year old woman exiting the gates of prison with the hope of a fresh start, free of drugs and violence. You struggle to make friends and find a job with your record and begin to fall down a spiral of self-doubt and blame. How can you find a place of compassion and care and patience for yourself?

You are a fifty-one year old man, residing in a sober-living facility and being reintroduced to job readiness skills. As excited as you are for a new chapter in life, you are fearful that job skills alone will not prepare you to face temptation and addiction outside the facility’s walls. How can you step back and take a deep breath when the fear and temptation are overwhelming?

What do you do? What resources do you have?


Yoga is part of an ancient system designed to address human suffering – and address it in the body, where it manifests.  Yet, those who are suffering are often denied access to yoga classes – financially, emotionally and physically.

Throughout the years, service-minded and socially-conscious individuals have approached this issue from all sides. As a result, service-yoga was created. Service yoga is intended to deliver the healing benefits of yoga to manage suffering – in an accessible environment. This type of yoga is trauma-informed and mindfulness-based so that suffering students can access the benefits of the practice – without the daunting barriers of cost and location, physical ability or social judgment from peers and teachers alike.

Let’s dive a bit deeper.


Service yoga is suited for marginalized individuals across the globe – those suffering from PTSD, abuse, foster care and incarceration. Yoga can impart a sense of ease, confidence and awareness for these individuals that can aid in recovery and healing. In addition, yoga provides practical, lifelong skills that these individuals can use as a resource, like breathwork and meditation.


Service yoga is a type of trauma-informed and mindfulness-based yoga that is tailored to meet the particular needs of the communities served. Techniques specific to the effectiveness of service yoga include different terminology, asana modification and adjustment policies.


Service yoga is available in a variety of communities. OG Yoga currently brings service yoga to a diverse mix of populations, including incarcerated teens at the Girls Rehabilitation Facility and incarcerated men and women at local jails and prisons and rehabilitation facilities like WestCare Foundation’s Custody to Community Transitional Rehabilitation Program.


Service yoga is applicable at any time during an individual’s journey with trauma or suffering.


Service yoga is conducted by a variety of trained and experienced certified yoga instructors who are passionate about helping others heal and build resilience and self-development.


We love yoga. You love yoga. We want to make yoga accessible to all individuals – particularly those suffering from trauma. We want to share this healing with the world. We proceed with the best of intentions and, yet, we may leave those we hope to help feeling disempowered and marginalized. How can we truly help?

Do you want to learn more? Register for our upcoming workshop for a deeper look into what service yoga is and how it is performed on September 16-17 at the Jacobs Center in San Diego.

Related Posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply