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Health News Florida

Jacksonville Yoga Nonprofit Featured In 'National Geographic'

Yoga 4 Change Executive Director Kathryn Thomas (right) is pictured with First Coast Connect's Melissa Ross.
Yoga 4 Change Executive Director Kathryn Thomas (right) is pictured with First Coast Connect's Melissa Ross.

A Jacksonville nonprofit that teaches people yoga is being featured in January’s National Geographic.  

The magazine is examining why yoga is so popular and how it reduces stress. The article features the nonprofit , which was founded six years ago in Jacksonville.

Yoga 4 Change teaches yoga to veterans, incarcerated people, and those suffering from substance abuse. 

They’ve been teaching yoga in Duval County’s three correctional facilities since 2016.

Executive Director Kathryn Thomas said she couldn’t believe it when Fran Smith from National Geographic called and at first, she thought it was a joke.

“I thought National Geographic, why would they ever want to do an article on us? But after contacting her back and then talking to her, she became very interested in our program, because we are involved in the entire judicial system for the Fourth Circuit here, meaning that the judges are sentencing individuals to our program as part of their incarceration,” Thomas said.

The magazine also cites a Boston University study that measured the impact of Yoga for Change on sleep quality, coping skills, and forgiveness.

“That study allowed us to have actually a control group, because we had individuals who are eating the same food with the same external stressors, if you will, but were not receiving the intervention of the yoga program,” said Thomas. 

Yoga for Change has expanded to South Florida, Tampa Bay and Central Florida. The National Geographicissue, called “The Future of Medicine: Wellness” is online now.

Michelle Corum can be reached at mcorum@wjct.org, 904-358-6308 or on Twitter at @MCorumonME.

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