Frequently asked Questions
What is Transformation Yoga Project?
Founded in 2013, Transformation Yoga Project (TYP) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that provides individuals, communities and institutions access to the tools and support necessary to navigate the emotional challenges of trauma, incarceration and addiction and discover their own capacities for healing and transformation. In 2023, TYP merged with Defy Ventures. While TYP subsequently ceased to operate formally, TYP founder Mike Huggins and volunteers will continue yoga classes at several prisons and continue community yoga trainings in the greater Philadelphia area.
Tell me more about the merger with Defy Ventures.
You may read the full press release below.TYP – Defy Press Release
What methods does TYP Utilize?
In our classes, we do not seek to change people. Instead, we guide and invite individuals in practices that awaken them to their own innate capacity for healing and transformation and provide practical tools to improve overall physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Our trauma-sensitive, mindfulness-based programs provide a safe, supportive, inclusive and consciously-held space for participants to explore the connection between their minds and bodies.
We utilize sustainable techniques that that may include yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and self-care. Guidance is provided by dependable, compassionate and trained certified TYP yoga facilitators. Over the course of a few weeks, participants begin to learn how to quiet their minds using their own breath, which is self-soothing and initiates the relaxation response. Through gentle movement and breathing practices, individuals spend time reconnecting their body, mind and spirit which enables them to release deeply held unresolved trauma and behavior patterns.
Who does TYP serve?
We provide individuals, communities and institutions access to the tools and support necessary to navigate the emotional challenges of trauma, incarceration and addiction. We support individuals in Recovery and Behavioral Health, Justice and Reentry, and Youth Services, especially in underserved communities.
Where are TYP’s programs located?
TYP provides programing at more than 50 locations throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware and serves more than 15,000 individuals annually. Our yoga service programs are offered at addiction recovery facilities, prisons, state correctional institutions, hospitals, behavioral health settings, alternative schools and juvenile detention centers. In Pennsylvania, TYP serves in nine different counties. We are the exclusive provider of mindfulness and yoga programs to Philadelphia’s six city prisons and to the City’s Office of Addiction Services. TYP also offers classes at area colleges and universities in coordination with collegiate recovery clubs and has worked with several Philadelphia-area school districts to teach trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness classes for youth. TYP funds programming at the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center in Lima, PA, so that residents can benefit from learning yoga at no cost.
How do TYP classes benefit participants?
TYP programming offers the benefits of yoga and mindfulness practices through the lens of trauma-informed care.
We encourage participants to recognize recovery as a shift in perspective, using yoga and meditation as tools to support their lifelong journeys. Participants explore the connection between their minds and bodies which enables them to take their well-being into their own hands. Program outcomes are designed for sustainability so participants can draw on their practice to respond to life’s challenges.
Yoga has been proven to provide a number of positive physical, mental and emotional effects, and often causes a ripple effect that extends to their families, neighborhoods and communities. People who practice yoga regularly show lower cortisol levels, the hormone that the adrenal glands secrete when in “fight or fight” mode. Yoga promotes flexibility and releases tension. Regular practice results in being able to better balance emotions and reduce depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. TYP programs provide social interaction in a community that is focused on compassion, acceptance and wellness.
In a recent study of individuals within the justice system, regular yoga practice was proven to increase: resilience, focus and concentration, self-awareness and self-esteem, mental and emotional well-being, restful sleep, relaxation and energy and a sense of community
To learn more about the extensive evidence-based research methodology of trauma-sensitive yoga visit www.transformationyogaproject.org/yoga-benefits/
Who teaches the TYP trauma-sensitive, mindfulness-based yoga classes?
TYP’s classes are led by experienced, registered, and accredited yoga instructors who have completed a 200-hour yoga certification program prior to being trained to teach trauma-sensitive classes in a recovery or criminal justice setting.
Accessibility remains a crucial component of TYP programming, including peer-to-peer training of incarcerated individuals. At SCI Chester Prison, 15 incarcerated men received their 200-hour yoga certification and are now actively teaching classes throughout the prison.
If you are an experienced, accredited yoga practitioner and are interested in becoming a contractor for TYP, please contact us for an application.
What progress has TYP made?
- TYP provides a continuum of care for individuals reentering the community in partnership with Philly Fight and Reentry Coalition
- Peer-to-Peer training at SCI Chester Prison provided 15 incarcerated men a 200-hour yoga teacher certification. These men are now actively teaching classes throughout the prison
- TYP provides staff mindfulness programs for employees in the facilities we serve
- TYP has increased its exposure in the Mid-Atlantic region for its trauma-sensitive, evidence-based programming
- TYP published a book supporting people in recovery called Yoga for Recovery: A Practical Guide for Healing
Founder Michael Huggins begins practicing yoga and obtains 200RYT instructor certification. After leaving corporate life, Mike begins teaching classes in the greater-Philadelphia area, with a particular focus on trauma-sensitive practices which incorporate breath-focus and mindfulness.
Founder Michael Huggins and Colleen DeVirgiliis create community-based programs for youth and within shelters after studying the impact of trauma sensitive yoga and mindfulness.
After being charged with a Responsible Corporate Officer misdemeanor for actions that happened under his watch but that he did not know about, Mike serves an 9-month sentence at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia and Lewisburg Prison Camp in upstate Pennsylvania. During this time, Mike begins teaching multiple yoga and meditation programs to other incarcerated men and sees positive results among the participants.
Programs expand to support veterans, those in recovery from substance use disorders and within the women’s prison at Philadelphia’s Department of Prisons.
Transformation Yoga Project is incorporated as a 501c (3) non-profit corporation in September, and Mike and Colleen continue to study and develop a trauma sensitive yoga curriculum. Classes begin at the Federal Detention Center. TYP hosts James Fox of the Prison Yoga Project.
Due to increased demand for its programs, TYP, now a formally established non-profit, expands into the following Philadelphia-area Justice, Recovery and Youth facilities:
- Philadelphia Department of Prisons – Cambria Community Center
- SCI Graterford (state correctional institution) – Montgomery County
- SCI Chester (state correctional institution) – Delaware County
- Chester County Pre-Release Center
- Chester County Probation and Parole’s WRAP program
- University of Delaware collegiate recovery program
- Gaudenzia House
- Joseph’s University collegiate recovery program
- Bridgeway School – Philadelphia
- Montgomery County Youth Center (for Detention and Shelter)
- Delaware County (Lima) Youth Detention Center
- Philadelphia’s Office of Addiction Services names Transformation Yoga Project as its preferred provider of mindfulness-based yoga programs for people participating in the city’s recovery programs.
- Under the guidance of Director of Justice & Reentry Services Brianne Murphy and Training Director Colleen DeVirgiliis- TYP offers a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certification program at SCI Graterford, the first program of its kind in a Pennsylvania state carceral setting.
- TYP is invited to participate in the Yoga Service Council’s Best Practices Symposium Yoga in the Criminal Justice System- Mike Huggins and Brianne Murphy attend and represent TYP.
- Mike releases a book about his experience going from the corporate world to prison to founder of a yoga service non-profit: ‘Going Om – A CEO’s Journey from a Prison Facility to Spiritual Tranquility’
- TYP is invited to present at Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections organized TEDx at SCI Chester.
TYP continues to expand its yoga service with several new partnerships, including:
- Philadelphia Department of Prisons- all facilities
- SCI Muncy – 50-hour Peer to Peer Program
- Onward Behavioral Health – multiple counties
- Crozer-Keystone Health System Recovery Center Delaware County
TYP expands its community trauma-informed yoga training programs to include separate focus on its three service areas; Justice, Recovery and Youth. Approximately 100 persons attend the multiple two-day training sessions.
- TYP attendance continues to expand:
- 16,000 total attendance
- 55 partner institutions
- Programs in all 5 Philadelphia counties, plus Lancaster and the state of Delaware
- Director of Recovery Nicole Breen appointed to oversee the rapid growth in recovery and behavioral health programs
- TYP publishes its first book — Yoga for Recovery: A Practical Guide for Healing, a book designed to enable home-yoga practice. The book is distributed at multiple recovery centers and is available for sale on Amazon.
- Inside-Out modeled Yoga Teacher Training at SCI Chester graduates 9 people who are incarcerated and 4 additional community members. Continuing education and support continue post-graduation.
- TYP completes its third 200-hour yoga teacher training program, graduating 20 incarcerated men at SCI Phoenix (formerly Graterford). Post-graduation, TYP continues to support newly certified instructors in continuing education and developing classes within SCI Phoenix.
- The Justice Advisory Committee is formed. This committee- made up of YTT graduates and TYP team members and supporters meet to co-create Justice Programming.
- LaSalle public policy researcher, Holly Harner, studies TYP’s unique YTT program, with results expected to be published in 2020
- Youth instructors, Colleen DeVirgilliis and Katy Kopnitsky begin a series of strengths-based resilience and social emotional learning programs for adolescents in Philadelphia schools.
- TYP receives multiple awards, including:
- ‘Healthcare Hero’ by Main Line Today (founder Mike Huggins)
- “Next Gen: 15 Local Leaders under the Age of 30” by Main Line Today (Director of Justice & Reentry Services- Brianne Murphy)
- Philadelphia Magazine – Health Care Hero (founder Mike Huggins)
- Philadelphia Eagles – Red Zone Partner – (TYP team)