When Kathryn Thomas was 11 years old, she knew she wanted to fly. All it took was a simple helicopter demonstration and Kathryn knew she was meant to be a pilot. And in 2009, her dreams came true when she officially earned her gold wings and became a certified U.S. Naval Aviator. But her career was cut short when she broke her ankle while on deployment. Complications meant that she would never return to the sky, but that didn’t keep Kathryn from learning to teach her soul to soar.
After her accident, Kathryn struggled to find herself. So much of who she was and how she saw herself was tied up in being a pilot that she no longer knew who she was when her feet were on the ground. The added challenge of depression and anxiety due to her long recovery and departure from the Navy didn’t help matters. But when Kathryn began to practice yoga, she discovered that her life had a bigger purpose to serve.
Kathryn knew that the healing and restoration she had experienced while practicing yoga was something powerful. So Kathryn made it her mission to help others dealing with traumatic circumstances achieve the same peace and hope that she had found. That’s how Yoga 4 Change was born. The non-profit organization focuses on serving four of the most vulnerable groups in society: veterans, incarcerated individuals, vulnerable youth, and those suffering from substance abuse.
The trauma-informed yoga classes focus not only on the physical practice of yoga, but also on invaluable concepts such as empathy, optimism, gratitude, vulnerability, and much more. Kathryn’s cause encourages the groups that attend these free yoga classes to find healing and peace within their bodies, their minds, and their souls.
Since she began her journey, Kathryn has touched the lives of more than 15,000 vulnerable individuals in her community of Jacksonville, Florida. Individuals just like Alan Calkins, a former inmate who is now in training to become a yoga instructor. “I support Yoga 4 Change 110%,” Alan shared in a recent interview. “It’s definitely changed my life for the better. It’s opened my eyes to a dimension of spirituality that I never acknowledge before.”
Just as it did for Kathryn when her identity was ripped from her so many years ago, the yoga she teaches is now helping others to find themselves apart from their circumstances so that they can move forward into a new chapter of hope and possibility in their lives. To learn more about the work that Yoga 4 Change is doing, check out www.facebook.com/Yoga4Change.