ZENworks Yoga // Meet the Founder Sonya Patel


Meet ZENworks Yoga’s Founder and Executive Director, Sonya Patel!

What inspired you to start ZENworks Yoga?

After moving back to Cleveland in 2010, I knew I wanted to stay in education and really make a difference in my community. I also realized that there was a big gap in children learning how to manage their emotions, self-regulate and basic “life skills” based on my experiences as a teacher. I knew that yoga could help and I started working with this idea of bringing yoga and mindfulness to children and communities that wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to practice. It was a slow process and definitely a learning experience, but I am so proud of how far we’ve come over the past 10 years!

What is one of your favorite moments as part of ZENworks?

The favorite part of my job is being able to observe all of our amazing instructors across all of our schools. Every time I set foot in the classroom, and watch our team make magic, I’m reminded of why we’re a part of this work. There is always a student that gives smart insight about how yoga and mindfulness can help them and it really gives me chills. It’s such a simple skill that we’re teaching, and something that’s doesn’t cost any money or require any equipment, but can be so powerful.

What is your favorite yoga practice and why?

I have two favorite poses–I enjoy flowing between both child’s pose and downward dog. I include both in my morning routine. I like a wide knees child’s pose because it helps open my hips and feel grounded and I like downward dog because I really enjoy the full-body stretch it offers, especially my upper back and down the back of my legs!