LIRS Partners with Yoga Alliance to Develop Innovative Mental Health Programming

Pilot program under development will incorporate yoga to help refugees and immigrants heal.

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Baltimore, MD. (November 9, 2023) – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is pleased to announce a partnership with Yoga Alliance,  the largest nonprofit association representing the international yoga community. Through the partnership, LIRS and Yoga Alliance will establish a pilot program that will incorporate yoga to help refugees and immigrants heal from the emotional trauma they experienced on their journeys to the United States. 

LIRS and Yoga Alliance will launch the pilot program in January 2024 at two LIRS refugee resettlement partner sites, Samaritas in Troy, Michigan, and Lutheran Services Carolina in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Yoga Alliance will provide LIRS with program models and guidance on yoga integration, impact evaluation, and support with identifying yoga professionals with relevant lived experiences and trauma-informed training to lead and facilitate programming. Once underway, the pilot program will enhance mental health services LIRS offers to refugees and immigrants. 

“Yoga has been proven to improve mental health, which is an underlying challenge for New Americans who endure so much while fleeing from their home countries. Along with its health benefits, we believe yoga classes will be invaluable for refugees and immigrants since they’ll be in an inclusive setting where they can socialize and build a community,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “We are pleased to partner with Yoga Alliance to add another element to the holistic support we provide to New Americans. This pilot program will affirm our goal of expanding the innovative programming that we offer to help refugees and immigrants as they rebuild their lives.”

“Refugees and immigrants face untold challenges, and we believe that this pilot program will provide mental, emotional, and communal supports that are critical to their finding stability and success in the United States,” said Shannon Roche, Yoga Alliance President & CEO. “Cost, accessibility, bias, and other factors often prevent people from accessing mental health support. Research shows that consistent yoga practice can have a positive impact on mood, boost endorphin production, and decrease anxiety, making it a proven complementary tool for those who are managing depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. We are proud to partner with LIRS on this effort, and we remain committed to bringing yoga to more spaces and communities.” 

About Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) 

Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is the largest faith-based national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable immigrant communities in the United States. Through more than 80 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.

About Yoga Alliance 

Founded in 1999, Yoga Alliance is a member-based, non-profit organization that serves yoga schools and teachers across the globe, providing world-recognized, best-in-class credentials and unifying its members around a shared ethical commitment. Yoga Alliance’s goal is to support and foster the high-quality, safe, accessible, and equitable teaching of yoga. In addition, Yoga Alliance delivers a strong value proposition to its members through community-building initiatives, educational resources, advocacy efforts, and social impact programs.  For more information visit  


Toni Carey, Vice President of Strategic Communications
Yoga Alliance | | (571) 482-3351

Jason Lucas, Press Secretary
LIRS | | (240) 717-4421