Join us for our next episode of Futures, where we discuss disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline with yoga and mindfulness. Ali and Atman are the founders of the Holistic Life Foundation and have been working in the Baltimore Public School system for the last two decades, devoting their time and study to supporting the youth of this city.
The Holistic Life Foundation partnered with The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Prevention Research Center at Pennsylvania State University to facilitate a randomized control study on the curriculum in four Baltimore City Public Schools. This was also the first-ever randomized controlled trial of a school-based mindfulness and yoga intervention for urban youth.
Findings from the study showed that students participating had a positive impact on problematic responses to stress, including rumination, intrusive thoughts, and emotional arousal. Participants also showed a reduction in involuntary stress reactions, which leads to improved social, emotional, and behavioral development.
From the origin of their afterschool program, Ali and Atman have continued to create robust and essential trainings, community collaborations, mentorship programs, curriculums, and so much more.
Ali Smith has almost 20 years’ experience teaching yoga, mindfulness, and meditation internationally to a broad demographic spectrum that includes schools, retreat centers, wellness centers, mental crisis facilities, detention centers, drug treatment centers, the corporate setting, as well as private one-on-one sessions. He co-founded the Holistic Life Foundation in 2001. During his tenure as Executive Director, his leadership helped guide HLF to grow an organization that employed over 50 people, and served communities worldwide. He is a published author, written several curriculums, and is a pioneer in the fields of yoga and mindfulness in education, as well as trauma informed yoga and mindfulness, developing best practices that are used around the world. Ali has taught in seven countries on three continents.
Atman Smith is one of the Co-founders of the Holistic Life Foundation. Since 2001, he has been teaching yoga and mindfulness to a diverse population including underserved and high-risk youth in Baltimore City Public Schools, drug treatment centers, wellness centers, and colleges. A native of Baltimore, Atman attended the University of Maryland, College Park where he was a letter award winner for the University’s men’s basketball team. He graduated with a B.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice.