It’s no coincidence that this Team Leader Spotlight is being featured the same week as International Women’s Day, a time when our world is reflecting on the many social, economic, and cultural achievements of women across the globe. Join us as we get to know Lisa Mehos, an influential and courageous leader who spends her days (correction: years!) instilling confidence in New York City youth and survivors of domestic violence. Her secret? Yoga.
We’ll start things off with a story, because who doesn't love a good tale of courage, new found confidence and transformation? Oh and did we mention that one of the heroes is an eight year old girl?
"I had the privilege of working with an incredible group of children at a shelter in the Bronx a couple of years ago. At one point during our yoga class, one girl was holding back tears as she told me she could not do yoga, because kids at school tell her she is not good enough and her body is too big. Throughout the project, we incorporated affirmations and exercises focused on instilling confidence, acceptance, resilience, compassion, and love. By the end of the school year, this precious 8 year old was smiling and exuding confidence. She excitedly shared a story with me about a group of kids making fun of the way a little boy talked. The boy was crying and she stepped up to console him and said; “You need to stop bullying him. Everyone is different so who cares if he talks in a different way than you do. Does it make you feel happy and strong to see him crying?” I cherish the memories I have of witnessing transformation in children as they become confident, compassionate, resilient, and willing to embrace the differences in themselves and others.”
Talk about girl power. Lisa is a strong believer that “working with children who are at a very impressionable young age provides a powerful opportunity to instill confidence, resilience, and virtues that have a permanent impact on their lives.”
We couldn't agree more.
Lisa's work with New York Cares started over a decade ago, long before yoga became the mainstream form of exercise it is today. Since then, Lisa has grown programs such as Yoga at Hudson Guild, by developing curriculum that helps combat inequality, bullying and peer pressure.
Just hear what Sarah Ushay, Children's Programs Officer at New York Cares has to share about her experience working alongside Lisa.
“Lisa consistently goes above and beyond, constantly asking to do more for communities in need. Just in her short time at Prospect Family Inn, she started a project called "Through the Eyes of a Child" where she collect thoughts and narrative of the young children who were in the program.”
So of course, we weren’t surprised when Lisa's volunteers sang the same praises.
"Lisa is very good with the kids and accommodates lessons to the children's levels and temperament. -Liza"
But let’s be clear. While Lisa certainly has a gift for working with children, leading volunteers, and innovating her programming, there’s so much more to the work she does than what meets the yoga mat.
Research suggests that school-based yoga may have a number of positive effects on student health, behavior, and overall performance. Just take More than just a game: Yoga for school-age children, a piece on the Harvard Health Blog which references a growing number of studies showing benefits to yoga such as improved balance, strength, mindfulness, focus, and even educed anxiety.
So besides the benefits and kids, we were curious. What inspires Lisa to serve?
"Whenever disheartening events take place in the world, being involved as a Team Leader always manages to reinstill my faith in humanity. Working with so many selfless volunteers and staff members reaffirms my belief that good will prevail and kindness is contagious."
We’d have to say the exact same thing about our work with you, Lisa. Thanks for influencing the next generation of New Yorkers to have a strong, courageous, and balanced approach to our world. Namaste!