Local non-profit organization sends inaugural yoga student to India

Culture Travel

Rebecca Young is The Om Work Project’s first scholarship student to travel overseas and expand her yoga training

Screenshot via The Om Work Project.

Despite never having travelled in the air for longer than six hours, 18-year-old New Jersey native Rebecca Young may have to sign up for a frequent-flyer plan this fall as she travels to India with Victoria-based non-profit Om Work.

“I think it’s about three days worth of flights and shuttles,” explains Young in between laughs in a boardroom at Om Work’s downtown headquarters. “I’m going from Victoria to Vancouver, Vancouver to San Francisco, San Francisco to New Delhi, New Delhi to Goa, then a three hour car ride to the resort.”

The travel is all part of an ongoing journey for Young, who moved across the continent and to a different country away from her family to pursue a degree at Pacific Rim College.

The Om Work Project’s first scholarship winner, Rebecca Young. Provided photos by Meg Cooke.

Young initially saw an online description of the college — a globally renowned institution for holistic medicine and sustainable living located in Victoria’s Market Square — and decided to upend her New Jersey roots and move to Vancouver Island.

While in classes at Pacific Rim last Spring, Young watched a presentation from classmate Nicole Sampson, Director of Connection for Om Work, about the power and benefits of yoga. The presentation propelled Young to look deeper into the non-profit’s work.

“During her … presentation she was sharing everything about yoga, and I was like ‘wow I had no idea it was that intricate.’ I had no idea it had all this interesting meaning. And then at the end she brought up the Om Work project, and I was just like, ‘that’s it, I have to apply.’”

The Om Work project was founded by CEO Nicole McLellan in 2017 as a non-profit organization for empowering young women through yoga and mindfulness. The project sends one person identifying as a woman between the ages of 18-24 to a destination of their choice to complete their 200 hour yoga teacher training.

McLellan completed her yoga teacher training in 2013. During the training program, she heard from several women who expressed the wish that they had been able to experience travel and yoga earlier in life.

Young heard about the project near the end of April, and after waiting a few weeks before applying, she quickly filled out the application just days before the deadline.

“The deadline was the end of May, and then eventually it was mid-May and I was like ‘I’ve got it get this done!’ So I just did it all in like one day, double-checked it the next day and sent it in.”

Young has been doing yoga since early childhood, and even though her family didn’t have the money to afford high-end classes, they would often practice together with old videos and CDs.

The Om Work Project’s first scholarship winner, Rebecca Young.

“I used to do yoga with my mom when I was a kid, she would always tell me these stories of doing the downward dog underneath her while she was doing the downward dog — that would be like an Instagram-famous picture [now].”

Young heard from McLellan that her application was selected for the next phase, an in-person interview, and she felt confident after meeting McLellan that she might be picked as Om Work’s first scholarship student.

“I felt like during that interview …she really [liked] me! And I could also tell she [was] really excited about talking to me!”

Two days later, Young was informed she had been selected as the candidate to travel to Goa, India to complete her yoga teaching training.

“This right now is a very big part of my life. I’ve never travelled overseas before, I’ve travelled from the New York area to here and that’s about it. I’ve been trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, because I find that I’m always [finding] myself getting comfortable, so I settle down, and [then] I want to try new things.”

Young believes it’s not just about being the winning applicant and about the new learning opportunity that excites her for the future, but also being able to work with Om Work in the future to mentor and empower other young women through yoga.

“I’m actually looking forward to working with the Om Work project past going to India,” she says. “I’m totally fine sharing the word about yoga, mindfulness, and spirituality with other young women … I would really love to share everything the Om Work girls have shared with me.”

Young will travel to Goa, India on Nov. 1. To find out more about the Om Work project, visit their website at https://www.theomworkproject.com