For the last year, Toronto Body Mind has had the privilege of following New Leaf’s commitment to engaging youth in Ontario’s at-risk neighbourhoods through yoga and an ethic of non-violence. By striving to make yoga accessible and relevant to youth through mentorship programs, New Leaf helps youth learn new ways of dealing with not only the regular complications of teenage life, but also the hardships related to facing some of life’s greatest challenges and hardships. Sharing the practice of yoga with youth who are growing up in disadvantaged areas reflective of the four primary indicators of violence can, as New Leaf shows, help the city’s young people overcome personal histories of abuse, incarceration, addiction, violence, and gang-involvement because yoga cultivates the “seeds for peace in their lives.” By creating a means for self-empowerment in communities where their voices are often neglected, yoga can encourage personal growth and resourcefulness as well as an awareness of community. Believing that “yoga can be a powerful contributor to social change”, New Leaf hopes to inspire youth by showing them “that change on a large scale starts one person at a time.”

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