Bringing Change One Yoga Pose at a Time with Kathryn Thomas

By Katherine Odom-Tomchin

Yoga is known as a mind-body exercise that requires concentration on breathing and physical techniques to be performed properly. Kathryn Thomas, founder and executive director of Yoga 4 Change, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit organization that teaches yoga as a therapeutic exercise to struggling individuals, believes that yoga is much more than fitness. It is a tool to be utilized in unstable environments to promote healing and rehabilitation while preventing those in at-risk areas from falling into the mistakes more likely to occur in rougher settings. Yoga 4 Change aims to tap into the beneficial properties of yoga by teaching its ways to inmates, at-risk youth, veterans and those with mental health disabilities. Family! spoke with Kathryn on the creation of Yoga 4 Change and how it is making a difference on the First Coast.

Photo courtesy of Aidee Douglas (6)Why did you form Yoga 4 Change?
I was a naval helicopter pilot and I was in the Navy for a full seven years. I was medically retired because I fell while I was on deployment, so during that whole medical retirement process I kind of lost myself because I made my identity all about being a naval helicopter pilot and how awesome that was and suddenly in this one second it was, not totally taken away, but it was just not a possibility anymore. While I was going through the medical retirement process—it takes about a year—I started putting on a lot of weight and getting really depressed, and my physical therapist said that I should start doing something that would help me potentially keep weight off but at the same time maybe help me with stress and anxiety.… Read the rest