We had the good fortune of connecting with Leah Wiegand and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Leah, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?

Laughing Dogs Yoga was inspired by my two children and my past work as a teacher. Growing numbers of children are suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues. Our children are often over scheduled and over stimulated. I created Laughing Dogs Yoga to give students a place to learn coping skills and self-regulation in a fun, engaging way. We also know that at least two-thirds of children deal with adverse experiences, so I made sure to include trauma informed practices in our classes. It truly takes a village to raise happy children, and our goal is to support the children who most need it.

What should our readers know about your business?

Laughing Dogs Yoga is a nonprofit corporation with a mission to bring yoga education to underserved schools in the Atlanta area. We work mainly with Title 1 elementary schools and Head Start programs. Growing research shows that the movement and mindfulness of yoga has physical, mental, and emotional benefits including enhancement of coping skills, increase in strength and flexibility, improvement of self-control and self-awareness, and increase in resiliency. While there are many other children’s yoga programs out there, what sets Laughing Dogs Yoga apart is our focus on underserved communities and our trauma-informed approach. Our classes include physical poses, mindfulness practice, music, and stories. Classes are often themed to make them fun and engaging. We create a safe, inclusive environment where all students can be successful.

While the Laughing Dogs Yoga program is growing quickly, our biggest challenge is funding. As a nonprofit, our mission is to serve communities who need this work the most. With the limited funding that schools receive, many of our schools do not pay for our program. We rely on donations and grants to keep our classes going. We truly appreciate any and all donations.

Laughing Dogs Yoga is a work of my heart. Our children deserve the best, and by giving them access to the socio-emotional learning of yoga, we hope to create happy, healthy children who grow into happy, healthy adults.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

Having active children has made me much more outdoorsy than I ever hoped to be. My husband and I love to take our children on hikes around the Roswell area. We are frequent visitors to the Roswell Mill and Sope Creek. On the rare opportunity that my husband and I go out, we love downtown Roswell. Monkey 68 and Deep Roots Wine Market are our favorite spots. Gracious Plenty and Fickle Pickle are also wonderful if we are bringing the kids along. And of course, Peach Out Power Yoga is always great for a yoga class.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

I have been so fortunate to have the support of many people while building and growing Laughing Dogs Yoga. It started out as just an idea, and I brought on a board of intelligent, strong women to help. They act as a sounding board and guide me in the right direction. What started as a tiny program in two schools has now become 22 schools and growing, and my board’s support and ideas definitely play a role in that. I have also recently hired two instructors who share this passion with me. With their help, we teach approximately 1500 students each week.

While I have amazing community support, my husband is truly my biggest cheerleader. His patience, guidance, and business savvy have been vital in Laughing Dogs Yoga’s success. He has a demanding job, but he has stepped up to give me the time develop and grow Laughing Dogs Yoga. It wouldn’t be here without his support.

Website: www.laughingdogsyoga.org

Instagram: www.instagram.com/laughing_dogs_yoga

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