Inspiration with Erica Austin UPLIFT Founder + Mentor
Erica Austin is a go-getter. She’s the Founder of UPLIFT Yoga Foundation including the nonprofit organization’s Teen Yoga program. Erica is also someone you’d want to have as your BFF. She believes in uplifting and empowering the women around her. UPLIFT Yoga is hosting an epic fundraising Yoga Bash for their teen programs; it’s an event that promises to be fun for everyone involved.
What keeps you inspired by working with your UPLIFT Teen Yoga Mentors?
I love that our mentor team has bonded so deeply. When we first started this mission, I didn’t quite realize that UPLIFT Teen Yoga would impact the mentors just as significantly as the teens. It turns out that this program helps women of all ages to connect in the most profound ways.
Do you have a success story you can share?
Our first ever UPLIFT Teen Yoga retreat was this summer at a lavender farm, and it was by far our biggest success yet. I witnessed major transformations at our Butterfly Retreat; it really was like our teens went into the cocoon and emerged as their truest, most beautiful selves. I believe it was the first time that many of our girls realized they are truly not alone in their emotions and experiences, and that there are like-minded girls out there to support and love them.
What are some ways the mentors are impacting the community?
All of my mentors are super involved in the community. UPLIFT Teen Yoga is just one of the many things that they do! Camilla brings yoga to individuals in recovery. Kelsey is an amazing teacher of the Yoga Sutras. Avery works with post-college grads to help them find their passions. Lena is in PT school and brings healing and mindfulness to those suffering from acute pain. And Nicole is an empathic nurse who cares for patients undergoing brain cancer treatment. These women amaze me to no end.
What have you learned from the other mentors?
My mentors inspire me every day with their knowledge, abilities and most of all, kindness. I love Steve Jobs’ quote about hiring people smarter than you. I feel like I am being guided to the women who can breathe magic into UPLIFT Teen Yoga and help it grow in wonderful ways that I cannot do alone, nor would I want to! As we continue to expand, it will be my job as the leader of this organization to step back and allow them to shine and grow this incredible mission.
Tell us a little bit about UPLIFT Teen Yoga program.
UPLIFT Teen Yoga guides teen girls to connect with their inner truth, beauty and wisdom. Our UPLIFT Teen Yoga Journey is comprised of cumulative eight-week sessions of yoga, mindfulness, journaling, and compassionate discussion. We have our own unique curriculum inspired greatly by our teachers, Dr. Dan Siegel, Gabby Bernstein, Brene Brown, and Rob Bell. The dream is to become a constant in our teens’ lives, rather than just a one-time experience. We envision our teen girls becoming junior mentors for UPLIFT Teen Yoga once they are ready. We also just starting offering retreats, and someday we would like to have our own studio too.
What inspires you about this program?
Five years ago, we would need to explain the meaning of mindfulness, not just to our teens, but to everyone. Now it is a household term. There is a shift happening, and it is very inspiring. Our girls will grow up with tools that none of our mentors had during their teen years. Even my four-year-old son is learning yoga and mindfulness in his preschool.
It’s so exciting to be part of this much needed education of the heart, and bringing this practice of yoga and mindfulness to the next generation seems like the most important cause that I could possibly devote my life to.
Why did you start UPLIFT Teen Yoga?
When we were in college together at Ohio State, my brother Joey died from an accidental overdose. He was the much-loved guy next door with a bright future ahead of him, and his sudden death was just devastating.
I started a nonprofit organization in his memory and traveled the country for seven years, speaking to college and high school audiences about drug and alcohol awareness. When I moved to California, I began to fall in love with yoga. At the same time I was starting to write the next chapter of my nonprofit. I wanted to reach young people with a positive approach, and after a week of spending time with teen girls at a YMCA summer camp, UPLIFT Teen Yoga was born.
UPLIFT Teen Yoga connects girls with their truest sense of self, which is the basis of all well-being. It is interesting to to see the trajectory of this mission and how it has evolved, and I know Joey is with me every single day, cheering me on.
Celebrate at the UPLIFT Yoga Bash on September 21, 2018
Buy tickets to the UPLIFT Yoga Bash here!
Use Promo Code “FINDBLISS” for a 15% off Discount!
Join 600 yogis for the UPLIFT Yoga Bash on the Eve of the Equinox: Friday, September 21st at Doheny State Beach. We are raising funds and awareness for UPLIFT Teen Yoga’s new Outreach Division, which will bring yoga and mindfulness to the teens in Orange County who need it most.
MANDUKA “BIRDS OF PARADISE” VIP PRE-PARTY – 5-7pm
Our upscale Birds of Paradise VIP Pre-Party will be from 5-7pm with 250 guests. Here we will have all kinds of entertainment: delicious hors d’oeuvres, non-alcoholic beverages, “Insta-Famous” Acro Yogi performances, Giant Angel Wings by Colette Miller of Global Angel Wings Project, a Flower Power Braid Bar, Fire Dancers, Essential Oils & Card Readings, and tons more.
OM CIRCLE AT SUNSET
At sunset, all yogi guests will move to the beach for a massive OM Circle led by CorePower Yoga’s Chief Yoga Office, Heather Peterson.
MAIN EVENT – 7-9pm
After the OM Circle, we will move to the beautiful grass area adjacent to the beach, underneath Doheny’s 80 foot majestic palm trees. CorePower Yoga’s Director of Mindful Leadership, Anthony Chavez will lead us through our inspiring yoga practice surrounded by the elements of nature, beautiful lighting, live DJ beats, and lots of surprises. Get ready for Richard Vagner’s violin Savasana!
AFTER PARTY – 9-10pm
We will move back to the VIP area and enjoy good company, cozy food, live music, non-alcoholic drinks, more acro yoga performances & entertainment, and opportunities to purchase goodies to benefit UPLIFT Teen Yoga.
THE CAUSE – UPLIFT TEEN YOGA
All proceeds benefit our new Outreach Division of UPLIFT Teen Yoga, which brings yoga and mindfulness to the teens who need it most in Orange County.
Use Promo Code “FINDBLISS” for a 15% off discount!
UPLIFT Yoga Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.