Urban Yoga Foundation (UYF)
A non-profit organization that educates and empowers communities to be proactive about issues affecting their health.
UYF is based in New York, NY founded by Ghylian Bell. UYF programs help individuals manage stress, develop mind-body awareness, and health consciousness through yoga, mindfulness, and integrative wellness practices . For over 20 years, UYF has continued its important work of designing health and wellness programs for organizations, corporations, and schools throughout the greater New York area serving over 600,000 adults, children, and youth since 1996.
Ghylian Bell, Founder/Director
Helping students connect to their authentic selves through yoga one breath at a time.
Ghylian started the Urban Yoga Foundation with a vision to make programs that specifically target the needs of underserved students, providing them with the language, yoga poses, breathing and mindfulness techniques that enable personal growth, character development, and creative self-expression
Ghylian’s career in New York began in fashion working for designers such as Ellen Tracy, Anne Klein and Charles Nolan. Fashion led to acting, landing Ghylian in numerous national television commercials and films. Bell decided to start her Asthanga yoga practice in 1995 at Yoga Shambala in New York. In 2000 she received her children’s certification from Next Generation Yoga for Kids, which then led to her ISHTA yoga certification (Integrated Science of Hatha Tantra and Ayurveda) with teacher Alan Finger at New York city’s BeYoga. Among her many teachers are Heart of Yoga’s Mark Whitwell and Manju Jois, eldest son of Sri Pattahbi Jois. She is currently working with Tao Porchon-Lynch, the worlds oldest yoga teacher and Yirser Ra Hotep, senior yoga instructor of Kemetic Yoga in the United States.
Ghylian has practicedand taught yoga for over 20 years, and has sought to share its tranformative powers and wellness with others. Before she started bringing yoga to schools Ghylian created her first arts program, The Yoga Gallery. The Yoga Gallery fused arts, yoga, movement, and spoken word into an experiental and therapeutic event for both performer and audience.
Yoga was first introduced to Ghylian as a stressed out single mother seeking a way to find balance in her life and grow closer to her daughter. After experiencing the healing powers og yoga first-hand, Ghylian knew she that needed to bring yoga elsewhere to those who need it most. This became the foundation to UYF, which started off as a small grassroots campaign to bring yoga to students and underserved communities.
In November 2007, UYF became a 501c non-profit, and created a Teacher Training program, providing tools and curriculum for over 250 teachers that have been certified through the Urban Yoga Foundation. Ghylian Bell and UYF have piloted programs in schools throughout the New York and metropolitan area, and to this day has reached over 500,000 individuals.
The wealth of knowledge and experience Ghylian has acquired through her life journey is shared with others through her speaking engagements. Ghylian has moderated a panel at the WomenWerk Forum, a women's empowerment organization which provides a platform for women to discuss and celebrate the way gender bias is perceived and overcome. Ghylian was also a featured speaker at the 2017 Mindful Life Conference, one of the largest conferences on mindfulness in the United States. She has also taught and spoken on transforming one's trauma into something less damaging at the Omega Institute, a non-profit organization that focuses on holistic healing and the power of human potential.
Ghylian Bell works closely with the American Heart Associations “Go Red for Woman" campaign. Bell helps bring education and awareness to heart disease the #1 killer of woman. As a holistic practitioner, yogi, actress, model and purveyor of fine hand-blended organic botanical blended teas Ghylian also supplies organic and fair-trade tea to the schools for tastings and workshops. Ghylians' work was recently featured in the NYC Doc film festival illustrating the benefit of yoga in the public school system. The Film “School of Yoga” was the creation of filmmaker Contessa Gayles.
Ghylian Bell, Founder
Personality is reduced and deformed with depleted thoughts and stagnant mind.
-Hussein of Jordan
Depletion and its connection to be disconnected and unaware is an idea we need to overcome. When we think in terms of today’s idea of modern yoga and mindfulness the perception is for people to connect and be present with their bodies, serving an individual need as a path to liberation. This is not the complete story of the practice of yoga. The full truth of yoga, which is a union in action and thought, is founded historically on a person’s ability to over come the self in order to be of service to the greater self. It is in this action we connect the community, keeping us mindful in yoga. This is a return to self-love through service. We are a living environment of energy and cells connecting in union with all that is around us on that vibrational level. Our responsibility is to create an understanding that we cannot deplete our personal environment or outside environment. We are All connected to the infinite cycle and are created to give and receive. This is the Life Cycle. If there is no completion of the cycle we create a catalyst for lower vibration actions. When our selfishness creates this one-way accumulation that has not completed the cycle, which involves giving back, we all suffer energetically. The positive energy that becomes you in service ignites love in its highest form of self worth and value. When we open the door to that service as a part of giving back, we are using higher vibrations as an expression of love and that is the genesis of the mindfulness yoga concept.
Board of Directors
Vice president/Board Member