Our Backstory (or, how we got here)
Dani grew up in small cities in Ontario, Canada, and Mark grew up in Southern California, specifically the city of Los Angeles.
Along the way, there were good things, and there were things that brought us close to death. We both experienced the after-effects of trauma in our early adulthood, and it has informed our teaching and our work ever since. It's one reason we're so deeply committed to safety.
After a lot of getting better was well under way, we discovered the positive effects breathing had on our own lives. It was profound. At the same time we always felt along the way—long before we ever met—that helping out is one of the best things we could every do.
Mark was busy with Street Yoga since 2002, and Dani was living frontline mindfulness with her multi-challenged students in Scarborough, TO, planting seeds one breath at a time for what we would one day call Breathing Room. We shared breathing practices with folks who had overlapping, often complex vulnerabilities due to abuse, upheaval, violence, injury, cruelty, and/or grinding poverty and despair.
After connecting at a Street Yoga training in Toronto in 2014, Dani—with Mark having her back—fully launched Breathing Room and brought her compassionate, safe breathing practices to hundreds teachers throughout the Toronto school system (TDSB).
Dani and Mark began to collaborate more, creating online course material, writing training curricula, putting together formal documents, all the while experimenting and debriefing nuanced aspects of frontline breath-centered resilience building.
Fast forward five years, and pieces are sweetly coming together. Out of the blue after a very challenging 18 months, the Street Yoga Board voted to shut down operations as a 501(c)3 organization, and to return to Mark the operations of the Street Yoga trainings, which now continue as our Trauma-Smart Yoga Service workshops. Dani was at the point of scaling Breathing Room, and we decided to fold our different services together, under a new banner, Rebel Breath.
Rebel Breath is dedicated to breath-centered resilience building for every person, and we are also committed to building ourselves as a social enterprise, weaving community economics and multi-generational resourcefulness into our mission. This will play out in numerous ways over the years.