We are thrilled to welcome Damithia Nieves, Shuja De’Peace and Sam Brown as our new Trauma-Informed Yoga Trainers! Each of them bring an incredible depth of knowledge and experience to our team, and we will be able to significantly enhance our training offerings with them on board.
Please give them a warm welcome and enjoy learning about them below:
Damithia Nieves hails from the East Coast, Chicago and Hawaii and has lived in Washington (for the second time) since 2005. She is a 200hr Registered Yoga Teacher, Certified Children’s Yoga teacher and Trauma-Informed Restorative Practice Facilitator. She is the founder of Thrive Yoga, offering trauma informed ,culturally responsive movement and mindfulness practices to youth in schools K-12. She is passionate about facilitating the deep healing work around race and social justice especially as it intersects with yoga and wellness. Outside of her teaching and training she finds joy in time with family, in nature and long periods of un-interrupted silence and furious dancing.
Zackery Max Driver, or Shuja De’Peace as he has chosen to be known, is a historian, philosopher, agitator and embodiment coach. He has been teaching yoga for seven years and has found that the trauma informed approach allows his students to be in more choice & because of that inevitably more empowerment and agency. With a deep affinity for esoteric knowledge & storytelling he spends countless hours researching embodiment practices, mythology, religion and ideologies from around the world. When not teaching yoga Shuja is leading men’s work, work around race, and/or traveling the world sharing his love of the practice. Shuja also loves to write and has a string of successfully published pieces including his most challenging work, his memoir, ‘Number 344317’ which details his life before and during his own incarceration.
Samantha (Sam) Brown (she/her) fell in love with yoga in 1996 while practicing along with a VHS tape in her living room. The movements focused on restoration, range of motion, and ease and allowed her to feel a sense of embodiment and self-trust that felt refreshing, reassuring, and secure. Those early experiences remain a pillar of Sam’s approach to yoga today, which is that it is a practice for students to tune into their bodies and breath and move in ways that feel nourishing, loving, and safe. Within that container of care yoga can then bring insights to support individuals in relating differently with themselves, with others, and with life. Sam teaches with Yoga Behind Bars due to its alignment with her commitment to social justice, anti-racism, equity, and prison reform. She also connects personally with YBB’s focus on trauma-informed yoga. Sam broke her back in 2009 and, after a period of bedrest and rehabilitation, needed to relearn how to move. When the time came to try yoga again she discovered she was no longer able to practice in ways she had before. Trauma-informed yoga became her sole way of practicing and teaching. She relates with chronic pain, with not knowing if and how she will be able to move tomorrow, and with drawing on yoga as a pathway to moving through life exactly as she is. Her style is rooted in hatha and restorative with somatics, strength, and humor woven throughout. In other facets of her life Sam works in Human Resources/Organizational Development at a community college and loves taking naps.
There are plenty of times when I feel lonely and sad, but if I picture myself as a mountain top, and the lonely and sadness are the clouds the blot out the sunshine, I know eventually the clouds will pass, and the sun will shine on me again. (^_^)
We all have the potential to be good at things we’ve never tried…you’re at home without an audience, so do something you have wanted to try.
Yoga Behind Bars receives funding from lululemon’s Here to Be social impact program to train next group of incarcerated men to become yoga teachers behind bars in Washington State.