Kindred Folks are real flesh, blood and bones humans that we feel a kinship with. They often do rad things. Typically, they have a bit of rebel in them too...you know, question everything and follow their heart type of stuff. We think people's lives would be a bit brighter knowing more about them. So here goes....
Say hi to Nicole Cardoza, a yoga instructor turned entrepreneur, and the founder of Yoga Foster. We chatted with Nicole and talked all things yoga, her favorite and least favorite postures, and what makes her a rebel. Nicole likes her coffee black, spending time in her greenhouse on her farm, hanging out in tree pose (but not so much side crow), and asked the big questions, like what's her spirit animal? Read on for all the deets on her huge success in creating a yoga and mindfulness based company, spreading the practice of yoga, and what her life looks like off the mat and offline.
Can you share some background on Yoga Foster and what sparked the idea?
Yoga Foster is a non-profit that brings yoga to school, training teachers that bring yoga to the school day. It brings in yoga during gym class and recess. Yoga Foster provides yoga mats and funds yoga mats that teachers can apply for.
Tell us what your impact has looked like so far!
Over 2 years, 800 teachers and 500 schools across the country are involved. We see kids becoming more likely to participate in gym and recess, as well as better grades on test and they are more likely to collaborate with their peers.
How do the programs which you sponsor work?
A teacher applies to work with us and we give them the training and mats for free.
You share some stories from the classroom online. Could you share one or two that stood out to you in particular?
I love when I hear that gym teachers use yoga to get every child participating in gym class. I know, growing up, I didn't love everything that gym class had to offer. Yoga is an incredible way to get kids to move. To be able to have something that every kid can use is great. Another teacher said they use it to prepare kids before state testing, and it allows kids to perform at their best.
How can folks get involved with Yoga Foster?
The cost is $20 to bring yoga to one student for the whole year. If a yogi gives up one yoga class, they can give it to a kid. We also work closely with Lululemon and collect yoga mats and donate them to classrooms in need.
Where do you see Yoga Foster going from here?
Yeah, for us, we want to reach more schools. We want to work with every public school in the country. How we do that is by elevating school teachers in their classrooms and encouraging them to spread yoga in their communities. That's something we're really focused on. What we really want to see is the yoga community bridging that gap.
What is your favorite pre-internet hobby?
Probably working in the garden. I live on a farm, so just being able to detach that way is really important to me.
Where is your favorite place offline?
What's your favorite yoga pose? Your least favorite?
I think my favorite is tree, right now. I like tree because I think it's a very accessible pose for people of all ages. There are so many ways to grow in this pose, which is perfect for what it means. It's both active and passive.
My least favorite pose is side crow, right now, just because it's giving me a lot of struggle. Sometimes your least favorite poses are the ones worth practicing.
When did your yoga practice begin?
I started practicing yoga when I was in college. I had never practiced it before, I went with my dorm to a class in St. Marks. It was the first time I ever really felt like I was in control of my body. I didn't know how to articulate it at the time, but I was hooked and I went back as often as I could.
Do you have a spirit animal?
A lion. I just feel like it's so confident. I'm a leo, and it always encourages me to speak louder than I do which is important being the founder of Yoga Foster.
What brings you to your mat every day?
My company and my students, I think I can't lead if I'm not centered, so it's important.
If you're not on your mat, where would we find you?
In the greenhouse, on the farm. Or out to coffee with other entrepreneurs who are changing the world.