At Embody, each month we are highlighting humans who are part of our ‘Feel Better Do Good’ movement whose lives have been positively impacted by our work!
I found EmbodyGR at its inception over five years ago. It was lovely and heartfelt; the energy among new yet awkward beginnings for many of the original EmbodyGR participants was so perfectly raw and lovely. Over time more and more people began to show up. Kindness and gentleness were palpable as we lifted and held each other up, sharing our practice on the mat and our lives off the mat in fellowship and service.
EmbodyGR offered my family a place to be when my adult kids chose to join me during a particularly crucial time of healing for us. Together we were able to practice quietly next to each other and just know we were being held up by an organization that cared for us “as is” without question or judgement of the challenging experiences we were facing. Those shared moments at EmbodyGR are remembered by us as a family frequently.
It helped to know we could attend EmbodyGR together for free, as well! Obviously, paying for physical and mental wellness practices for an entire family isn’t going to happen for most people! The free offering is so important for building a community of openness and diversity. My life has been deeply enriched by the connections made with beautiful people I might have never met, because this opportunity was free for everyone.
EmbodyGR’s mantra “feel better do good” led me back to a focus on receiving that I’d lost through personal trauma and anxiety. Most of my life revolved around giving and not so much about accepting. I gave everything to my family, friends, profession, and community. Receiving was for other people and I basically rejected it. Over time, giving became rote; my life was on auto-pilot and I didn’t even know I desired anything for me. EmbodyGR returned me to a space of presence, allowing me to receive the energy from others that we all richly deserve. In turn, my giving became bigger than ever!
Today, I use the inspiration of EmbodyGR to help support the work of Grand Rapids Red Project as a board member. For me, this organization is a natural off-shoot of the work EmbodyGR does every week! The Red Project is a harm reduction agency focused on meeting people where they are, without judgement! We provide a safe place for community members to access healthy choices related to sexual activity and substance use (safer sex supplies, overdose training and naloxone kits, free HIV testing, support groups and HiV case management), and as with the space at EmbodyGR, there is no stigma! Everyone is welcome! We invite our most marginalized neighbors to come in, RECEIVE without judgment and go back into the world the opportunity to be a healthier human. I can’t think of a better way for me to give back to our city, and I receive so much in return! And please notice the synchronicity of the efforts behind both of these lovely nonprofits! That is the universe working Dana’s magic!
I feel honored to have been a part of Dana’s journey with EmbodyGR, and fortunate beyond measure to have received exactly what I must have needed without even knowing it, at the perfect time for me.
My name is Quinn Burke. I’m 23 years old and I’ve been coming consistently to Embody GR for
almost four years. I can say with full transparency that Embody GR has saved my life and continues to support my healing journey.
Since I was 11 years old I’ve struggled with severe depression and anxiety, accompanied by persistent thoughts of suicide. I’ve transformed my whole being because of this community. Four years ago, I dropped out of college to save my life and focus on healing. Since then, I’ve gone back, and am close to earning my associates degree. This is my family. My medicine and safe place to go. I do not want to die anymore. I have a tribe of support, love, and acceptance. The biggest barrier preventing me from attending a yoga or meditation class before Embody was the cost. Embody crushes this barrier by making yoga free and accessible to EVERYONE. I know that this is SO important for many of my friends that go to Embody. Of course, I could practice yoga for free on my own in my room by myself, but that is often lonely and I quickly lost motivation. Dana and the community of teachers who lead Embody, along with the incredible folks who show up each week to support each other make this community what it is.
A community of healing, loving kindness, gratitude, and service.
Embody GR is a priority to me. It’s blocked off in my week. Showing up every Wednesday is a "yes” to healing. A yes to breaking down walls of shame, self-doubt, pain, anger, and sadness. I even got the opportunity to attend an extremely effective therapy program thanks to the generosity and kindness of a tribe member.
EmbodyGR is a yoga & service nonprofit organization in Grand Rapids, MI. Dana Christian Lee started the community after several of her friends committed suicide. She felt that yoga was such a powerful practice that it should be accessible to all and she knew she was the one that needed to make that happen. Her goals were for the community to become a place of empowerment to change people from the inside out. Her passion is to inspire people to grow into all that they can be, and then to share that spark with the world. She teaches that in order to change the world, we have to start with ourselves, by healing what needs to be healed.
After healing ourselves, we can bring our unique gifts to the world, which will ultimately lead to more happiness for the self and this ripples out to countless others. Ripples reverberate through the fabric of reality; a fabric so tightly woven that it is impossible to know what it would be like if one of the stitches had never been created. Of course, you can never really know for sure how big those ripples are. Prevention is immeasurable, and we cannot know how things would be different without something. Despite all of this, I don’t think there is a doubt in any of our minds that Dana has saved lives with her work.
Hi, my name is Adam Tijerina and I'd like to tell you all a brief story of my life associated with Dana & EmbodyGR.
As part of personal recovery, I volunteer with The Red Project. I particularly like helping during the annual Walk To Stop HIV, which is where Dana and I met. She was leading a yoga warm-up before the walk and invited me to join them that morning. This would unknowingly change my life forever.
I have remained clean and sober for almost 6 years and share the date with Dana's birthday!
When I began my yoga it was during a very dark period with anger issues concerning relationships with others, including family members. I have been able to come to considerable peace in this area of my life through regular association with individuals and groups such as EmbodyGR. This is a tremendous help, since now I know my family supports me again and the tribe "has my back," too! It really helps when Dana always says thank you to the group for doing the hardest part - showing up! Through her yoga, Dana helps everyone feel welcome and included.
“Embody is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing access to physical and mental wellness education for all people 18+. We offer the healing tools of yoga and mindfulness, and create meaningful volunteer & service opportunities, to help people regain agency over their own well-being. Our FREE weekly gatherings and events empower individuals to become healthier, happier, and make the world better in their own way. We are dedicated to improving the quality of people’s daily lives so they can “feel better do good.”
Copyright (c) 2017 Embody, 501 (c) 3, all rights reserved.