To Top

Inspiring Conversations with Megan Davis of ZENworks Yoga

Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan Davis.

Hi Megan, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I am the Executive Director of ZENworks Yoga, a former social worker turned yogi. I stepped into this role in October of 2021 after being part of the ZENworks team for almost 7 years. Prior to that, I worked as a school based and community mental health therapist, particularly in the fields of trauma and loss. Once I began my yoga teacher training journey in 2012 there was no looking back- my mission became about finding opportunties to share yoga and mindfulness with children and families as tools for healing, wellness and resilience. I met Sonya Patel, the founder of ZENworks a short time later and began teaching yoga in some of our first school programs.

Sonya founded ZENworks Yoga in 2010 with the core mission of providing access to yoga and mindfulness for children and families in underserved schools and community organizations throughout Northeast Ohio. ZENworks Yoga officially became a 501(c)(3) organization in 2013 and we now serve approximately 3500 students weekly across 20 local schools and 4 districts.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
When ZENworks Yoga started, school based yoga was not nearly as mainstream as it is now. Some of our earlier barriers included simply dispelling myths about what yoga is, and is not, particularly within the school climate. In addition, administrators and funding sources typically (and rightfully so) needed to understand the connection between yoga, mindfulness and influence on social emotional learning and academic success. Thankfully, an abundance of research has emerged over the past ten years that speak to the powerful links between mind-body practices and learning, stress management, relational and mental health.

When COVID 19 hit and schools shut down, we had to quickly pivot to assess how we could continue to serve our community safely. We shifted from in-person yoga classes to offering weekly, pre-recorded videos to each of our buildings, via grade band. So what was initially a challenge for sure, turned into somewhat of a silver lining as it enabled us to widen our reach far beyond what our in-person capacity had been.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I believe one of the things that makes us unique is our dedication to our vision and core beliefs. Our vision really is to inspire all bodies to flouish, feel connected and know that they belong, no matter what. Our core beliefs include: access to programming for all, belonging via anti-racism and inclusion work, comitment to trauma-informed and evidence based curriculum content and dedication to teaching through an empowerment based lens.

Another thing that sets us apart from similar organizations is that we train our 200 hour certified yoga instructors how to teach in the classroom, right along side our school educators. ZENworks’ vetted curriculum is aligned with national Social and Emotional Learning Standards and offers shared language among our team, educators and school administration. Working inside the classrooms allows us space to support and build relationships with educators as well, which promotes more sustainable outcomes across the board.

While the school provides academic support, ZENworks Yoga intervenes to teach students to develop emotional regulation skills that are essential for academic success and lifelong resiliency. We also believe in collaboration over competition, and are grateful to have had opportunities to partner with other local organizations and non-profits, toward our shared mission of community wellness.

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
As I mentioned, we currently work with 20 sponsored schools, meaning that those buildings receive 20 weeks of student yoga and mindfulness classes via our vetted curriculum, staff professional development, staff wellness classes and family wellness programs free of charge. Provide free, accessible resources to educators and families via our online program. We also offer continuing education for school professionals and yoga and mindfulness workshops for schools interested in integrating tools into their daily classroom routines and have a robust YouTube channel that houses mat and chair based yoga classes for children and adults.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Nick Brilla

Suggest a Story: VoyageOhio is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Local Stories