Teenage Yogis: Fostering Peace in the Face of Rising Violence

Can yoga and meditation help a teenager struggling with the death of a parent or violence in his community?

Juquille Johnston was six years old when his father was shot and killed in the streets of New York City. It’s frightening to imagine how such horrific violence could affect this young man’s life. Will he be forever shackled to fear, anger, and pain? There are certain experiences and realities of life that, already tragic, seem particularly cruel when thrust on a person so young. But this is the reality facing so many young people around the world, including scores of young Americans confronted daily with gun violence, gang activity, poverty, and abuse.

In the premiere episode of The Chopra Well’s new show, Urban Yogis, we document Juquille’s powerful story, and the healing he experiences through yoga and meditation. Though it is often portrayed in media as a luxury, yoga can be much, much more. As practiced by instructor Eddie Stern and a group of teenagers in New York City’s LIFE Camp, yoga is meditation, therapy, exercise, and creative expression all in one.

Erica Ford co-founded LIFE Camp in 2002 in response to growing violence in New York City. As she witnessed the effect of violence on the community – particularly on black and Latino youth already at the mercy of discrimination and disenfranchisement – Erica knew it was time to take a stand. Through mentoring, media literacy, service, and more, teenagers involved in LIFE Camp become empowered to invest in their futures and their communities. Yoga is one of the powerful tools these teenagers engage with, and the practice has a profound effect.

Even more impressive than the power of yoga in this story is the fierce resiliency of these teens’ spirits. Perhaps yoga and meditation awaken something in the human spirit that was always there, but which we lose sight of or neglect. It comes alive again in the silence and focused breath on the mat, in the strength that fosters softness, so characteristic of yoga. Thirteen years after his father’s death, Juquille finds inspiration to slow down and face the challenges that come his way with compassion instead of anger.

We are ever grateful for these young people who so bravely shared their stories with us and with you. If you are inspired by Juquille’s story, share this video and keep the message of transformation alive.

Why not start your own yoga practice? Click here to watch a “one on one” yoga lesson with Eddie Stern. You can also find a link to the video at the end of the “LIFE Camp” episode. Eddie is a one of a kind instructor – so enjoy!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and stay tuned for more amazing stories and inspiration, every week on Urban Yogis.

More from Intent:
What Yoga Can Do For Cancer Survivors, Inner-City Youth, and YOU!
Transform the World Through Yoga – Deepak Chopra Interviews Seane Corn
How I Went From 58 Pounds & Nearly Dead to Healthy, Happy, & Loving Life


Sarah M.
Sarah M.3 years ago

Beautiful, thank you!

Wim Zunnebeld
Wim Zunnebeld4 years ago

thx for the info!

Marie W.
Marie W.4 years ago


Wim Zunnebeld
Wim Zunnebeld4 years ago


Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra Rodda4 years ago

Yoga and meditation do work. I give meditation training to my patients once they are ready to "graduate". Invariably they appreciate it enormously.

There was a video some time ago called "Doing time, doing Vipassana". It was about a police commissioner in India who decided to offer training in Vipassana Meditation to the inmates of a prison. It stopped the "revolving door" of recidivism.

Good on them.

Spirit Spider
Spirit Spider4 years ago

People helping people - nice :-)

andrew h.
- -.4 years ago


spiritual practice is a great idea for kids:
from Yogananda:

"Quicken your child’s evolution
Children should be taught to concentrate and meditate. By practicing the scientific techniques of meditation, they will, from early life, reveal intuitive faculties that will enable them to grasp knowledge with extraordinary quickness.

Education does not consist of pumping ideas and facts into the brain. It consists of developing one’s intuitive faculties and bringing the hidden soul-memory of all knowledge onto the plane of human consciousness. All new truths are simply the hidden truths of the soul; they give us joy upon rediscovery.

The development of intuition quickens human evolution. Teach children to quicken their own evolution through meditation. Have a little family altar where parents and children gather to offer deep devotion to God, and to unite their souls in meditation."


Nils Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago


aj E.
aj E.4 years ago


aj E.
aj E.4 years ago