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Meet the Yogis

Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Juquille Johnston, a native of South-Side Jamaica, Queens, grew up in the Baisley Park Housing Project. He is a leader and role model in his neighborhood. He lives by example, demonstrating the value of everyday life. He strives to open the minds of those around him by helping them identify their own unique gifts and talents. Juquille inspires others to have fun and look good while doing it. He enjoys fashion, creating music, playing basketball, and doing yoga/fitness. He works as a yoga teacher in the New York City Public School system and is a student of Eddie Stern.


Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Jaytaun McMillan is 20 years old and grew up in South-Side Jamaica, Queens, in the Baisley Housing Project. Even though growing up he was surrounded by lots of violence and drug abuse, his love for sports and basketball kept him out of trouble. As he got older, he was in search of a better life. Being introduced to the practice of yoga has helped him elevate his consciousness, learn to "take the good with the bad," and find happiness within. Now, using his leadership skills, he wants to inspire people to be happy and do what they love to do. He is inspired by the quote: "If you are not doing what you love or what your heart desires, you are literally committing spiritual suicide.”


Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Raheem Lewis grew up in the Baisley Housing Project in South-Side Jamaica, Queens, a rough neighborhood riddled with gang and drug violence. His love for basketball and sports kept him from succumbing to a life as a "gangster", but in his neighborhood there were little economic and educational opportunities. He spent a lot of time "chillin' on the corner" wasting time. Everything changed when he was introduced to yoga, thanks to his teachers Eddie Stern and Deepak Chopra. Yoga has given him an escape route to focus and make better choices in his life. Raheem now works as a yoga teacher in the New York City Public School system. He still chills on the corner, but now he does it with open eyes to help the other young men in his neighborhood realize there is more to life than drugs and violence.


Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Makeesha Hill is a dancer and performing artist in New York City who has aspirations to one day dance on Broadway and for many pop sensations across the world. Growing up in South-Side Jaimaica, Queens, violence was a constant part of her life that followed her all through middle school, high school and in her neighborhood streets. Makeesha knew this was not the life she wanted. Violence was the only way she learned and knew how to express herself, but her love of dance was her inspiration to make something positive of her life. Being introduced to yoga helped her find a new dimension to her dancing and to her life. She is now a mentor to many young woman, showing them there is light at the end of every tunnel. Makeesha is currently teaching yoga in the New York City School system and is a student of Eddie Stern.


Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Tyrell Carter is a musician, rap artist and producer known as Prince Carter. He currently has an album released on iTunes called Money Love Art Fashion. Growing up in South-Side Jamaica Queens, violence was always a part of his daily reality. For him, music was his outlet for expression and release. Being introduced to yoga changed his perspective on many aspects of his life and opened his eyes to alternative ways of thinking. His music will always be a testament to where he comes from, but now, thanks to yoga, he hopes to bring a new message of peace to his music. Tyrell is currently living in Los Angeles and is working to launch the Los Angeles Urban Yogis chapter.

 


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Erica Ford is a Queens, NY native and has worked as an activist and community organizer for most of her life. She is the founder of Life Camp and the Peace is a Lifestyle movement which teaches violence prevention and provides empowerment opportunities for economically and socially disadvantaged youth. Together, with Deepak Chopra and Eddie Stern, she was instrumental in creating the Urban Yogis program. She serves as a mentor for the yogis and a key public advocate for the program. 


Deepak Chopra, M.D, F.A.C.P. is an acclaimed author, public intellectual, speaker and physician. His YouTube channel, The Chopra Well, began a series called Urban Yogis, a documentary series featuring stories on the transformative power of yoga and meditation. In collaboration with Erica Ford, Peace is a Lifestyle, and Eddie Stern, Chopra produced the episode "Juquille's Story" which was the genesis of the Urban Yogis program. Deepak serves as a key sponsor, mentor and public advocate for the program. He has included the Urban Yogis as presenters in his course at Columbia University Business School and at his annual Sages and Scientists Conference. 


Eddie Stern is an Ashtanga yoga teacher raised in New York City. He studied with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois of South India from 1991 until Jois' death in 2009. He runs a yoga school in Soho called Ashtanga Yoga New York. The Urban Yogi program was started in collaboration with Erica Ford (Peace is a Lifestyle) and Deepak Chopra in 2012 in an effort to address violence reduction in South-East, Queens. Eddie serves as the program's program director, teaching yoga, Sanskrit, philosophy and serving as an important mentor in the lives of the Urban Yogis. 


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Regina Flores Mir is the assistant program director for the Urban Yogis program. Prior to joining, she worked for The Cue Group, an independant management consulting company, as the project lead with the United Negro College Fund's (UNCF) African American Male Initiative. She worked with UNCF leadership and key experts on the African American Male Experience to implement programs to increase college retention. She practices Ashtanga Yoga and is a student of Eddie Stern.