Announcing our 2014 Gift of Yoga Scholarship Recipients

Published: January 29, 2015

One of the most exciting improvements 2014 brought was the expansion of the Yoga Alliance Foundation scholarship program, which now offers four scholarships to yoga teachers looking to upgrade their credential and aspiring yoga teachers. The scholarship program is designed to give back to those who wish to bring the gift of yoga to underserved populations and who shine as leaders in their communities. Yoga Alliance Foundation is honored to support the recipients’ life of continuing education and personal development.

Our two Advanced Training Scholarships of $2,225 each will subsidize tuition at a RYS 300 for existing RYT 200s who wish to upgrade to the RYT 500 designation. Two Aspiring Yoga Teacher Scholarships of $1,125 each will enable aspiring teachers to subsidize their teacher training programs at a RYS 200 to register for the RYT 200 designation.

We are pleased to announce four winners of our 2014 scholarships. We share with you the inspiring and heartwarming stories of these recipients’ leadership, dedication to personal development, and selfless contributions to the yoga community:

Jens Augspurger of Mannheim, Germany

Aspiring Yoga Teacher Scholarship Recipient

Jens Augspurger is a community leader with a special interest in social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility. After completing an August 2015 internship in international relations and human rights, Jens will earn his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Spanish Linguistics from the University of Mannheim. Devoted to serving his community, Jens has given over 550 hours of his time to various organizations since 2008, even before graduating high school. Jens’ volunteer work lies largely in youth political education and inspiring young thinkers. He has led numerous workshops including a series to educate 16-18-year-old first-time voters. His “personable, empathic and humorous character,” as noted by one of his mentors, shines in his local work for the academic foundation Villigst’s student group and Sociology and Political Science academic specialist group.

Jens sees teacher training as an extension and development of his own sadhana and is committed to helping others experience the peace of yoga and inner strength he was able to find through his personal practice of asana, meditation, and Vedanta studies. In 2013, Jens’ curiosity led him to India, where he took a university class on Peace and Conflict. For Jens, yoga is more than what is on the mat – it is a state of mind for his lifestyle.

“I want to commit myself to teaching what yoga gave me and how [those] wonderful mechanisms can help others.”

Jens plans on using his training as a RYT 200 to incorporate elements of yoga into workshops and seminars he frequently offers in order to foster a deeper group connection and positive group atmosphere. Jens also hopes to one day serve refugees or those in asylum; he sees the importance of each person’s participation in society and hopes to help others realize their full potential through humanitarian approaches.

Janina Edwards, E-RYT 200 of Atlanta, Georgia

Advanced Training Scholarship Recipient

Janina completed her RYS 200 teacher training program at Kashi Atlanta Ashram, RYS 200, RYS 300, in 2011, and has since completed additional trainings in restorative yoga, yoga for anxiety and depression, and meditation and pranayama. A seasoned runner and marathoner, Janina found yoga initially as a tool for recovery from running injuries and later uncovered new passions through a deeper personal practice and her initial teacher training.

Janina brings the light of yoga to many underserved populations in her community, including victims of domestic violence, incarcerated substance abuse offenders, brain and spinal cord injury patients and senior citizens. Her colleagues describe Janina as a teacher who provides a balanced class and an “ambassador” for the lineage of yoga at the ashram, which she calls her spiritual community. As an active volunteer at Kashi Atlanta Ashram, she co-leads the prison yoga program, teaching inmates and acting as a liaison with the local participating jail. Janina dedicates her life to seva, acting as a leader in her community, sharing her radiance with all those around her.

“What inspires me about yoga is that it’s available to everyone. We can all touch the divine, using the appropriate vehicle to get there.”

As a RYT 500, Janina intends to continue inspiring the underserved populations she serves to experience yoga with open minds and light hearts. Through an advanced 300-hour program, Janina will develop the expertise to offer a fuller class experience to her attendees. She hopes to deepen her personal practice through this training and go on to “share yoga with whichever person is right in front” of her.

Brigid Korce of Durango, Colorado

Aspiring Yoga Teacher Scholarship Recipient

Brigid Korce has over 18 years of experience working in the field of social welfare, tirelessly advocating for vulnerable populations and the disenfranchised. Her vibrant community of Durango has welcomed Brigid as a voice for those who “fall between the cracks,” including the mentally ill, the homeless and victims of domestic violence. Her colleagues learn from Brigid’s “grounded, centered and reflective sense of empathy” and note that she is “revered” for the work she does to serve and improve her community.

Brigid’s yoga mentor describes her as someone who comes to the mat with sincerity and “exemplifies the yamas and niyamas on and off the mat.” A dedicated personal yoga practice has given Brigid the courage and voice to become a leader in social justice, passionately advocating for affordable housing for the disadvantaged, teaching classes to single parents transitioning out of homelessness, and managing three affordable housing communities.

“When I am practicing, I am confident, compassionate, calm and aware of my challenges. I want to be a yoga teacher so that I can bring yoga to those who struggle and want something better for themselves.”

As a RYT 200, Brigid plans to offer free yoga classes as a way to help her clients cope with trauma, cultivate intention and build self-awareness to foster “wholeness and stability” in life. Brigid hopes to continue advocating and enabling the integration yoga into mental health, criminal justice and trauma recovery programs.

Photos courtesy of SAB Photography

Joanne Spence, E-RYT 200 of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Advanced Training Scholarship Recipient

Leading a life of unwavering service, Joanne Spence is an experienced Social Worker and RYT 200 who sees her “role as a yoga teacher as a calling.” In her community, Joanne is known by peers for her “pioneering work” and remarkable dedication to mind-body wellness for all, focusing her work with children and mentally ill patients. Having never stepped foot on a yoga mat and open to learning, Joanne found herself in a weekend teacher training program paid for by the gym where she was a fitness instructor. Three days in, Joanne was sold when she experienced her first pain-free day since a serious car accident two years prior. After becoming a RYT 200 in 2003, her desire to serve has taken her to over 10 additional trainings. In 2004, Joanne founded Yoga In Schools, a non-profit organization which has brought yoga to over 20,000 students and 1,000 teachers in schools in and around Pennsylvania.

Under her leadership, Yoga In Schools has received nearly $500,000 in grants to fund yoga programs in low-income schools. In addition, Joanne has opened three yoga studios, presented at countless worldwide conferences and co-authored several journal articles.

“I believe that anyone can benefit physically and mentally from a…daily yoga practice. If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”

As an E-RYT 200, RYT 500, Joanne plans on continuing her selfless work in the community with underserved populations. The wife and mother of three will combine her work experience, gentle heart, and RYS 300 training to offer the transformative and healing abilities of yoga. She plans to “continue going places where no one has ever heard of yoga” and showing that if you can breathe, you can do yoga.

Congratulations to Jens, Janina, Brigid and Joanne on their much-deserved scholarships. We wish them the best of luck on all their future yoga endeavors. Scholarships are made possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors: prAna, Hays Companies, LiveEdit and Hugger Mugger.

We will offer more scholarship opportunities in the future, so be sure to check our Scholarships page for the latest. If you or your business is interested in donating to this fund, please contact for more information. 

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