Nancy Candea and Yoga Impact
When Nancy Candea, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, opened Yoga Impact in 2009, her goal was to “bring yoga teachings and yoga teacher trainings to marginalized populations and those who want to use their yoga skills to serve.” Yoga Impact strives to eliminate the gap in how wellness is distributed and make yoga accessible to everyone. By focusing on those demographics that aren’t represented, Yoga Impact makes training accessible and relevant for their communities.
Nancy became a yoga instructor while living in Hawaii. By the time she arrived in Colorado, she had already taught about 4,000 hours of yoga classes, and decided now was the time to use her skills to reach out to the community. Once she received her yoga therapy certification, she began to teach at the domestic violence shelter and the jail in Boulder, along with working with at-risk youth. Yoga Impact was incorporated in Boulder and still supports the transitional yoga program at the Boulder County Jail.
After moving to New Jersey in 2010, Nancy began working with the Morris County Jail, Family Promise, Cheshire Home, Zufall Center and the VA. A partnership with the Newark Yoga movement in 2017 resulted in offering yoga teacher training to 17 Newark residents. The following year, Yoga Impact brought a yoga teacher training to the Navajo Nation in Arizona, and this fall, a second round of yoga teacher trainings will begin with indigenous people in both Arizona and New Jersey.
The hard work and dedication has certainly paid off. Nancy is in awe of how much Yoga Impact has grown and how many people it has been able to help. “Sometimes this work is hard. It can take a year of negotiations to make a project happen,” explains Nancy. “But through it, I have been able to teach yoga to so many different people. When I work with someone who is in a wheelchair or recovering from addiction or trauma and help them learn how to breathe, I get to be a part of the recovery of their potential. I have seen over and over how these teachings change people lives. And it has changed me too. I am more patient, kind and confident. Plus the gratitude I feel is enormous!”
However, things don’t always go smoothly. Over the years, Nancy’s greatest challenge has been finding enough money to cover the expenses for working with people and communities that need these self-care skills. She says, “Sometimes I am not sure how it will work out. It is always a balancing act to do the work and find the funding.” A very helpful partner in this has been Purple Om Yoga in Denville. The studio has been hosting a donation based yoga class since 2011 that has helped fund Yoga Impact programming.
While there are amazing non-profits based in New Jersey, like Kula for Karma and the Newark Yoga Movement, Yoga Impact is unique in its focus on bringing yoga teacher trainings to diverse demographics and indigenous people. Their trainings are healing-based and include chair yoga, gentle mat yoga and how to adapt yoga for recovery from trauma.
Nancy believes, “the future of healthcare is self-care. Yoga modalities like mindfulness, meditation, yoga poses and breath awareness have been proven to not only be anti-aging but to help with anxiety, depression and higher immune function. We need to make sure that yoga is presented in a way that everyone who feels drawn to these practices has access.”
Currently, she is working to help build more capacity in the yoga teachers that she has trained through Yoga Impact. Essentially, she would like to be more of a consultant to yoga teachers, helping them gain the skills to do this kind of work on their own.
Nancy predicts that Yoga Impact will grow exponentially in the next few years, becoming an organization that can develop wellness communities. She says, “We are already being asked by urban and rural communities to bring our yoga trainings. I expect a fully packed schedule for the next 10 years.”
Recently, Nancy became the lead marketing person for Rise Up Rockaway, a new non-profit that brings social services to the Rockaway community. She and her husband are building an earth roof house in Rockaway. Her two daughters have been inspired to follow her great example and are both yoga teachers.
Nancy explains, “Our ideal clients are those who do trainings to work on themselves and then want to bring that knowledge to a member of their community who doesn’t have access to yoga skills.” Through Yoga Impact, yoga’s transformative effects will be able to reach people who may not have otherwise had the chance to experience its healing power.