Nicole Cardoza is the founder and Executive Director of Yoga Foster, a national nonprofit that empowers educators with yoga resources for the classroom. She’s currently traveling the country and raising awareness about their work. Nicole is a member of the inaugural Summit Fellows cohort.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Nicole! Can you tell us about this School Bus?
Sure! I’m the executive director of Yoga Foster, a nonprofit that offers online training, lesson plans and yoga mats to educators interested in bringing yoga and mindfulness to their classrooms. This summer, we’re driving a 33ft converted Bluebird school bus to yoga studios and yoga festivals to collect resources for our programs, deliver them to classrooms and communities, and film our first documentary along the way.
Where is the Yoga Foster Bus headed first?
We kicked off the tour this past week in Utah and are headed to 10 cities in the next two months. You can see the schedule at yogafoster.org/tour.
That’s incredible, we look forward to following your journey. What inspired you to leave your career in tech to bring yoga to school children?
Yoga Foster is a tech-based nonprofit, so I didn’t leave. I just applied my skills in coding and product design to making wellness more accessible in schools. As a volunteer yoga instructor in schools, I saw the impact of the practice on youth firsthand. I wanted to create a way to help educators interested in doing the same in their own classrooms.
What’s the most rewarding part about teaching these techniques to children?
Students begin to build agency and respond to the circumstances around them, instead of reacting. It’s exciting to see students use their breathing techniques in the lunchroom, or teach their parents how to stretch and relax before bedtime.
How do you find and train school teachers to teach students?
Many educators find us online as they search for resources to bring into their classroom for back-to-school. We gain awareness through hosting free meetups in cities, speaking at conferences, and sharing about our work on social media. This summer’s bus tour is our first marketing campaign after five years of growing through organic opportunities.
You’ve trained over 2,500 educators to teach yoga in classrooms, you’re in 500 school and have taught thousands of students this life changing practice… what’s your vision for Yoga Foster in the next year?
Our 2020 vision is to help 10,000 educators bring yoga and mindfulness to their classrooms, and engage 10,000 donors to keep these programs free and low-cost.
What can the people reading this article help you do to get there?
It costs us $20 to bring yoga to one student for the whole year – make a monthly donation to keep our work growing as the school year unfolds: yogafoster.org/donate
I’m sure this work can be challenging at times – is there a quote or mantra that inspires you to keep going?
“You are the sky” by Pema Chodron. It’s a reminder to remain full, whole and unbothered as various events and emotional states pass through my life.
You mentioned to us earlier that you’d love to partner with certain celebrities to help reach more children – who are the top five on your list who you think would be influential?
Trey Young, Rihanna, Captain America, Lizzo, Miquela
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Yoga Foster is everywhere you love to be @yogafoster. I post about our work and my travels on Instagram @nicoleacardoza.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much Nicole – and drive safe!