Ghylian Bell, Founder/Director
Helping students connect to their authentic selves through yoga one breath at a time.
Ghylian Bell founder and director of The Urban Yoga Foundation began her yoga journey in New York practicing the Asthanga tradition in 1994 with Eddie Stern at Yoga Shambala. Bell moved on to the ISTHA practice with Allan Finger, Heart Of Yoga practice with Mark Whitwell and also trained with Maju Jois son of Patabbi Jois. When introduced to the teaching methods of Tao Porch Lynch and Kemetic yoga teacher Yiser Ra Hotep Bell deepened her practice even more. With her focus now on fusing the indigenous practices of Kemetic Hatha and Tao lineages Ghylian knew that she needed to bring this knowledge forward to the communities she serves.
In November 2007, Ghylian founded the Urban Yoga Foundation, a 501c non-profit with the purpose to create yoga and mindfulness programs that specifically target the needs of students of color as well as create a platform for teachers of color to teach in their community so that communities may reclaim self -love and healing practices founded in a mindful culture. The Urban Yoga Foundation serves all who are seeking a path to wellness.
In communities of privilege, UYF utilizes serviced based principles of yoga to increase social awareness and promote collective work and responsibility .We do this in three ways: First, we delve into the origins of yoga, which were established in Africa, then expanded to India and other parts of Asia. This approach provides context for a shift away from the Eurocentric/western experience that most within the privileged community are exposed to. Second we challenge students to consider how they may leverage their experience to serve others. Finally, we invite students to promote and advance equity, diversity and inclusion in the local and global community.
Urban Yoga Foundation is a national organization that partners and creates outreach programs available for schools, organizations, studios and corporations. Our Integrative Health and mindfulness programs, yoga classes, meditations, professional development workshops and teacher trainings were created for yoga teachers, therapists, nurses, parents, caregivers, social workers and all who intend to teach in urban or highly stressed areas. Ghylian Bell and UYF have piloted programs in schools throughout the New York metropolitan area, and to this day have reached over 500,000 individuals. UYF created its grassroots live workspace model creating safe spaces to share the feeling of home.
Ghylian shares her wealth of knowledge and experience from her life journey in many public engagements, Bell served as moderator at the 2017 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 facilitated and spoken about trauma informed practices at the Omega Institute, a non-profit organization that focuses on holistic healing and the power of human potential. Ghylian has traveled to several Universities holding workshops and speaking on health equity and justice. Ghylian is also certified in whole food nutrition and held the position as Chair with the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Woman" campaign. Ghylian will lead a practice this fall partnering with Wonderlust Brooklyn’s 2 day Festival in September 2019. Bell helps bring education in health, equity, diversity and self-love through service.
Founder and Director of The Urban Yoga Foundation with a vision to make culturally competent programs that specifically target the needs of all students. For over 20 years providing communities with the language, yoga poses, breathing and mindfulness techniques. Teaching teachers and creating curriculum that support unity, sustainable health practices, personal growth, character development, and creative self-expression.
Under the leadership of Ghylian Bell Urban Yoga Foundation has outreach programs and partnerships throughout New York and New Jersey, including The New York Board of Education as well as various corporate and private institutions. Through these collaborations UYF has reached almost 500,000 individuals and developed partnerships with the following organizations:
15th Annual Empowerment Conference, Syracuse University (March 22, 2019) Provided Mindful Meditation with Vibrational Sound Chair Yoga Practice to over 300 young women.
Ford Foundation monthly (April 2018 to date) Led development and execution of monthly wellness workshops for executive staff.
YENE International Festival Senegal (July 2018) Developed and implemented a strategic vision to bring wellness platforms to a new city in the African diaspora.
Yoga Service Conference (May 2018) Provided collaborative curriculum introducing Breathe Move Learn workshop for conference attendees. Omega Institute Rhinebeck NY
United Methodist Women NYC. (Oct 2017 to date) Provides advice and leadership for Human Resources by implementing Wellness Wednesdays a weekly mindful practice of movement, breath, nutritional guidance and personal development.
Amal Alliance (May 2018) Provided training and curriculum for local NGO leaders in Thessaloniki Greece to serve displaced families from Syria and Congo. Curriculum translated in Arabic.
iBME Steering Committee Member 2018 Collaborated with leaders in Mindfulness practices to provide an opportunity for individuals and organizations teaching mindfulness to youth to examine and strengthen equity in their programs.
Visit.org (Jan 2017) Implemented a wellness platform for social impact experiences with an organization that invests 100% of revenue back into the community.
WomenWerk at NYU (March 2017) Lead a panel discussion with Top Executives from fortune 500 companies to amplify the voices of women and highlight gender-based challenges they face in their profession.
Mindful Life Conference (April 2017) Lead speaker conducted a workshop and presentation- A Dreamers Guide To Reality: Building a Mindful Practice In Todays World. Gaylord National Hotel Washington DC.
National Kids Yoga Conference (September 2017) Keynote Speaker on mindful-action practices. Lead a guided meditation with sound vibrational healing and visualization.
Beyond The Bars Mindful Activist Presentation Columbia University College of Social Justice (March 2016) Led a workshop on self care and affective leadership strategies to audience members who work with recently incarcerated and incarcerated youth and adults.
American Heart Association’s Go Red Campaign. (2012- to 2016) Provided leadership for Passion committee projects by organizing events as well as bringing the awareness of heart disease and prevention to urban communities.
Mount Sinai Hospital Health Fair. (2013-2015) Led an annual workshop on yoga breathing and stress reduction with The American Heart Association.
Harlem Healthy Hearts. (2013-to date) Facilitated workshops on Breathing and chair yoga for a women’s group led by Dr. Icilma Fergus, MD, of The Mount Sinai Hospital President of The Association of Black Cardiologist
Lenox Hill Hospital Community Health Fair. (2012-2015) Created a holistic health station for participants to experience and get information on yoga, chair yoga and breathing techniques.
BELL: Building Educated Leaders for Life. (2012-2015) Provides curriculum and certified UYF trained staff to teach middle school students yoga. For over three years reaching over 6000 scholars.
Harlem Chamber of Commerce. (2007-2015) Created alliances with other Chamber members and provided information on holistic health based lifestyle principles for our Harlem community.
American Cancer Society. (2013-2014) Provided weekly yoga classes and breathing workshops in the Harlem offices for survivors of prostate cancer.
U.S. National Guard. (2013) Organized and trained staff to provide yoga and stress reduction techniques to over 150 ROTC recruits.
The City College of New York’s Continuing Education Program Offered a course in yoga education for fall and spring (2013)
The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. (2012-2015) Provided jobs for almost a dozen medical students by training them in UYF children’s yoga subsequently having them teach in afterschool and summer programs throughout the boroughs.
The City College of New York’s Holistic Wellness Expo. (2013- 2014) Planning board member providing ideas on health stations, basic logistics and content of the expo.
Yankee Fan Fest. (2012-2014) Provided holistic lifestyle services in The Health Village on the USS Intrepid to Yankee Fans for over three years.
AHA: Tu’ Corazon Latino Summit. (2012-2013) Organized yoga workshops for Latin women in the Bronx with The American Heart Association. Educating women on prevention and health awareness.
Black Girls Rock Black Girls Lead (2013 to date) Collaborated with BGR to provide ongoing workshops with instruction on breathing techniques and mindfulness yoga during a summer leadership intensive at Barnard College.
Founded UYF in 2007
Opened a yoga studio in 2012 as a live work brand model.
Created a certification program to teach adults how to teach kids yoga.
Developed an integrative education curriculum that is used in partnered schools.
Established UYF programs through out New York and New Jersey.
Trained over 250 teachers in kid’s yoga in 3 years.
Created jobs and service opportunities in the community.
Executive Producer of a recent documentary on yoga in the schools.
Former Chair, Passion Committee American Heart Association.
Organizer UYF Healing Arts Festival, Bronx Museum of The Arts
Board Member STEAM afterschool program.
Secured partnerships with several in school and afterschool enrichment organizations:
BELL Foundation Harlem
NY New York City Dept. of Education
New York City Dept. of Health
Doing Art Together Harlem NY
South Mountain YMCA Maplewood NJ
Abyssinian Youth Development Corp Harlem NY
Columbia Teachers College NYNY
Catholic Charities of NY
University Settlement House
Wediko Children’s Services
Urban Assembly Schools
Cicely Tyson Community School
Education and Certification
Wellness Wave Life Coach Certification Umatilla Indian Reservation Pasco Oregon (Nov 2018)
Kundalini Reiki Certification UYF Harlem NY (01/2015)
Chair Yoga Certification The Open Center NY (06/2014)
Holistic Lifestyle Coach, Institute of Integrative Nutrition NY (Fall 2012)
Adult Yoga Teacher Training, Integrated Science of Hatha Tantra and Ayurveda, Yoga Works NY (06/2005)
Ashtanga Yoga Intensive, Institute for the Advancement of Human Behavior Rhinebeck NY (10/2005)
Breathing and Mindfulness, Heart of Yoga, NY, Yoga Works Studio (08/2004)
Youth Teacher Training Next Generation Yoga, NY (6/2002)
Theater Technique HB Studio
Dance/Theater course work, Mason Gross School Of Performance Art, Rutgers University, New Brunswick New Jersey
Related Skills and Experience
Key Note Speaker at The National Kids Yoga Conference Old Town Virginia (10/2017)
Speaker at The Mindful Leadership Summit Mindful Life Conference Washington DC. (04/2016)
Lead Yoga Mindful Movement Facilitator Ibme Wilderness Retreats (2015 to date)
Kundalini Yoga Workshop African American Studies Class Hostos Community College (12/2014)
Movement Meditation Breathing Workshop Black Student Union Hostos Community College (10/2014)
Yoga Workshop Black Student Union Hostos Community College (04/2014)
Yoga Movement Field Trip at UYF studio, Black Student Union Hostos College (05/2014)
Yoga/Meditation Workshop, Black Student Union Hostos Community College, student lounge. (10/2013)
Movement and Mindfulness Facilitator, American Heart Association NYNY (Fall 2014 to date)
Yoga Teacher, American Cancer Society NYNY, (09/2014)
Lead Yoga Teacher, Bell Foundation, Harlem NY (09-2012 to date)
Enrichment Specialist, Yoga Mindfulness, South Mountain YWCA (2004 to date)
Movement Director for UYF, Doing Art Together, Harlem NY (2015)
Recent UYF programs
Hostos College Bronx,NY
East Harlem Block Pre School
NYC Dept. of Mental Health
Hygiene Our Lady Of Lourdes Harlem,NY
Bronx School of Letters
Harlem Hebrew Charter School
Dream Charter School
Academy Prep of Tampa Florida
Academy Prep of St Petersburg, Florida
Enoch Davis Center St Petersburg, Florida
District 7 schools Bronx,NY
New Visions Aim Charter High School
Stanley Issacs Senior Center Eastside NYC
University Settlement House Brooklyn, NY
United Methodist Women Harlem, NY
Ford Foundation NY
Publications and Exhibitions
Feature Story Channel 11 news. Mr. G. The Weatherman. (June 2018)
BET News.com video segments on Holistic Health and Yoga (2014)
Health and fitness blogger for Huffington Post GPS For The Soul (2014)
Arise TV recurring Holistic Lifestyle Specialist (2013-21015)
Article in Time-Out NY Kids “Best Yoga Classes in New York”. (06/2009)
Essence Magazine article on Breathing and mindfulness. (08/2013)
Commissioned a Yoga Dance performance at Columbia University's Wallach Art Gallery’s Installation of Romare Bearden's "A Black Odyssey." (11/2014)