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Volunteer Yoga Instructor Enriches the Fabric of St. Anthony’s by Embodying the Foundation’s Commitment to Whole Person Care

June 4, 2024

Over the past four years, Warren Lange has offered his time to teach yoga and mindfulness classes to the residents of the Father Alfred Center recovery program. By volunteering weekly, he provides both physical and spiritual guidance to those seeking holistic improvement in their lives. Warren’s extensive life experience enables him to empathize deeply with the residents and understand their individual journeys. St. Anthony’s is privileged to have such a remarkable volunteer, whose contributions enhance the effectiveness of its programs.

Warren’s journey to the tranquil realm of yoga and mindfulness is a testament to personal transformation and the power of purposeful living. Born in Chicago and raised in a challenging South Side neighborhood, Warren’s early life was steeped in self-reliance under the guidance of his father. By the age of 14, he was already engaged in the workforce, and he dropped out of high school at 16 to pursue full-time work. This path eventually led him to Denver, where he opened his own printing business, catering to graphic designers and advertising agencies. His career flourished, culminating in the sale of his business to Consolidated Graphics in 1993.

Despite professional success, Warren’s personal life was marred by dysfunctional relationships. Reflecting on this period, Warren noted, “What I learned from those close to me is that I lacked empathy and needed to consider being more purposeful than expedient.” This insight marked the beginning of his transformation. As he delved deeper into yoga and meditation, Warren found that simply showing up for practice allowed everything else to unfold. “What I found in yoga is you really just have to show up. If you show up, everything unfolds without having to say anything,” he explained. This simple yet profound realization led him to pursue formal training in the U.S. and Sri Lanka, ultimately becoming a yoga instructor and mindfulness coach.

Warren’s struggles, including four marriages and a period of homelessness, fueled his passion for helping others. Insight Meditation (Vipassana) training in Colorado and Texas, played a pivotal role in his recovery from these patterns, leading him to teach private yoga classes and eventually volunteer at various organizations. His journey took a significant turn when the Director of Mission Carlo Fiatarone took his yoga class at Equinox and invited him to teach at the Father Alfred Center, the drug and alcohol rehabilitation program at St. Anthony Foundation.

At the Father Alfred Center, Warren found a perfect audience—individuals open to change and eager for the mind-body practices he offered. He teaches participants to use their breath as a barometer for their mental state and to sit with their thoughts rather than react impulsively. “If the breath is smooth, you’re relaxed. If breath is erratic, you may be stressed and need to take a moment,” he said. This approach helps them understand their habitual behaviors and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Yoga and mindfulness play a crucial role in the recovery process by helping participants get in touch with their bodies and minds. Warren emphasizes that all experiences are either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, and the goal is to steer towards neutrality, away from autopilot reactions. His classes start with basic poses targeting key areas like hips, shoulders, and hamstrings, gradually progressing to more challenging postures and ending in meditation.

Warren’s work at the Father Alfred Center has had a profound impact on both the participants and himself. He sees strength, effort, and hope in those battling addiction and finds personal and professional fulfillment in their growth. “I see some come, some go, and some come back. Addiction is most challenging, and I see the strength and effort and hope,” he shares. His recent completion of a two-year mindfulness teacher training program with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach has further enriched his teaching toolbox, reinforcing the foundations of mindfulness.

Looking forward, Warren aims to continue his work with both private clients and underserved populations, believing that the support from private clients enables him to serve those who cannot afford his services. His ongoing relationship with St. Anthony Foundation is an important aspect of his practice, providing him with opportunities to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. “I enjoy my role as it is and plan to continue as long as possible,” he says.

Warren’s advice to donors and supporters of St. Anthony Foundation is clear: programs like the Father Alfred Center are vital for the community. They not only offer a pathway out of addiction but also help preserve the cultural backbone of the Tenderloin and SOMA neighborhoods as places of compassion and awareness where the most marginalized in society can access the services they need. St. Anthony’s diverse programs ensure that participants leave with practical tools for personal development, as evidenced by individuals like Chris, a graduate of the Father Alfred Center program, who transitioned from a front desk role at Equinox to becoming a leading personal trainer there under the guidance and support of Warren. “I wouldn’t be where I am without him,” Chris said.

In conclusion, Warren Lange’s life story is one of continuous learning and transformation. His journey to the yoga mat underscores the importance of empathy, mindfulness, and the continual pursuit of personal growth. For Warren, St. Anthony Foundation represents a beacon of hope and a bridge to a better future—worthy of continued support from donors and the community.

Your support can help transform lives. Donate today to St. Anthony’s and empower individuals on their journey to recovery and holistic well-being.

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