The 2016 Community Service Awards Winners

Published: June 21, 2016

Earlier this year, we asked the yoga community to nominate Yoga Alliance members who exemplified service and volunteerism. We received over 100 nominations of yogis from all over the world for our Open Heart, Giving Back, Warrior and Youth Development awards.

We’re happy to announce that the winners of these four awards have officially been selected!

All of winners will receive recognition for their service during our Awards Ceremony in September.

In addition to these four awards, we will be giving out the “Yoga Alliance Community Choice Award.” For this this award, we’re asking everyone in the yoga community to participate and vote to decide which of our four winners will receive this award. We will announce the winner in person at our Award Ceremony.

Read on to learn more about our winners and cast your vote for the yogi you think should win the Yoga Alliance Community Choice Award.

Meet Our Community Award Winners

Giving Back Award

Marianne Hritz, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, opened Studio Oxygen in November 2006, and since opening, their mission has been to give back to the community. Using her studio as a central hub, Marianne has assisted many local nonprofit organizations in Ohio. From using donation-based yoga classes to amass donations for the Silver Lining Cancer Fund to collecting canned goods for the Second Harvest Food Bank to hosting a gala and silent auction at the studio, Marianne exemplifies a yogi who is passionate about service.

Open Heart Award

Lynne Filion, RYT 200, left her day job to pursue yoga teaching. When she began teaching, Lynne immediately gravitated to working with marginalized youth and adults in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. She volunteers with the nonprofit Arts Holding Hands and Hearts to provide yoga and expressive arts programs in public libraries, local art centers and a local youth detention center. Lynne empowers those she meets in these places—many of whom have undergone serious trauma—with artistic expression, mindful movement and meditation. At only 23, Lynne is making seva life’s work.

Warrior Award

Olivia Kvitne, E-RYT 500, is the founder and director of Yoga for First Responders. A yoga teacher since 2003, Olivia began her yoga adventure by offering free classes to veterans in the Los Angeles area. During her time in Los Angeles, Olivia learned of the incredible stress put on first responders—post-traumatic stress was on the rise, as were sleeping disorders and suicides. Olivia began working with the Los Angeles Fire and Police Departments to develop an approach to yoga to fit their needs. Olivia began training other yoga teachers in this approach in February 2015 – she now shares her methods with teachers all across the U.S.

Youth Development Award

As a committed child welfare advocate, Yuri Morita, RYT 200, has shared yoga with over 300 children in four different child centers in Japan since 2014. Many of her students come to these centers because they were abused or neglected and removed from their homes. Her vision is to bring yoga to the more than 500 youth residential centers across Japan. As part of this endeavor, Yuri is studying the effects of yoga on children in these centers. She believes this enhances her teaching and how she trains others in teaching kids yoga.

Voting for this award closed in August 2016. Congratulations to our Community Choice Award Winner, Olivia Kvitne!

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