Founder and CEO, YogaShield® Yoga For First Responders®
Olivia is a life-long yoga practitioner and has been teaching yoga since 2003. Her education for teaching segments of the population that are at-risk for Post Traumatic Stress and Vicarious Traumatization began by becoming certified in Trauma-Sensitive Yoga under Yoga Warriors International. She started working in the VA with veterans who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress and active military specifically before bringing this work to first responders.
While living in Los Angeles, Olivia adapted her offering of yoga to veterans to fit the first responder population by working directly with the Los Angeles Fire Department and department psychologist, Dr. Robert Scott. From there she taught weekly yoga classes at the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Training Center, as well as presenting training on yoga and the neurological system for LAFD’s Peer Support Team, and special workshops for high-ranking command staff of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). She continues to work with LAPD’s Behavioral Sciences Services by partnering for special training events including The Smart Detective for International Association of Chiefs of Police.
This method Olivia developed of offering yoga to first responders soon became a field-tested protocol specifically for processing stress, building resilience, and enhancing job performance in an approach which was job-specific and culturally informed. Olivia was requested to train others in her method to bring the resiliency-building tools of yoga to the first responder demographic nationwide. The development of this teacher training program was the birth of YogaShield® Yoga For First Responders® (YFFR) as an official 501c3 not-for-profit organization. Today, Olivia and the YFFR team offers Teacher Trainings, In-Service Trainings and Protocol Demos, department programs, training academy curriculum, and conference presentations around the country. Notable agencies who have hosted YFFR Teacher Trainings and/or adopted the YFFR Protocol include, Chicago Police Department, Denver Public Safety, Kansas City Police Department, Coral Springs Fire Department, Detroit Police Department, Tempe Police Department, Wichita Police Department, Seattle Fire Department and Des Moines Police Department among several others.
To date, YFFR has had over 10,000 first responder participants in classes across the U.S. and Canada. YFFR has been featured in “O” the Oprah Magazine, CBS This Morning, NowThis, National Geographic and more.
Besides running YFFR as an organization, Olivia teaches weekly YFFR classes for several Fire and Police Departments, training academies, and SWAT teams specifically in the Denver metro area. Olivia has taught regularly for Iowa Army National Guard, The Army Reserves, The United States Air Force Leadership School, The FBI Division of Victims Services, Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, Des Moines Police Academy and Warren County Fire Academy. Olivia has been a guest instructor for Chicago Police Academy, City of Las Vegas Department of Public Safety, Austin, TX Department of Public Safety, among many others. Speaking engagements include International Association of Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, FBI National Academy Associates, 1st Responder Conferences, International Association of Firefighters, EMS World, Iowa State Fire School, C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors), International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) National Convention, New York Police Department (NYPD) and more.
Olivia is former Assistant Editor of LA Yoga Magazine. Her writing for other publications and blogs includes American Military University’s In Public Safety, PoliceOnce.com, FireRescue1, National Association of Tactical Officers’ magazine, The Tactical Edge, Emergency Responders Blog, and the inaugural issue of Yoga Iowa, with her article on the benefits of yoga in the military being the cover story. While living in Iowa, Olivia had a weekly segment offering yoga tips on the Des Moines' morning news show, CW Iowa LIVE.
Olivia is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), International Society of Fire Service Instructors, the International Association of Yoga Therapists and is on the Physical Fitness Chair for the National Tactical Officers Association. Olivia is the recipient of the 2016 Warrior Award and Community Choice Award from Yoga Alliance International for her work with first responders and veterans/military.
Yoga For First Responders® online courses are currently available on Virtual Academy, PoliceOne Academy, FireRescue1 Academy, EMS1 Academy and the International Association of Firefighters’ Resiliency Course. Yoga For First Responders launched its own digital platform (Cyber Academy) in March 2020 featuring on-demand classes and drills, live-streaming classes, webinars, courses and more.