After Emily Behr’s second daughter, Poppy, was born a year and a half ago, Behr battled with postpartum anxiety and longed for community. As a yoga instructor for 10 years, Behr had the knowledge and skillset to form her own community by creating Growga.
Durham-based Growga combines mindfulness and social-emotional learning in yoga programming for its partners, including fitness providers such as O2 Fitness, the YMCA of the Triangle, school systems and other businesses with a desire to differentiate their children’s programming in Chapel Hill, Durham, Alamance, Wake and Chatham counties.
“There was a need in each of the communities that we work in for it to be accessible and easy for kids to be able to gain these skills to kind of help deal with stresses of everyday life so that’s kind of how it came to fruition,” Behr said. “I was really looking for a community and I knew, if I’m feeling this way, probably other people are too.”
The startup began with Behr teaching yoga in her community center as a way for her to meet other parents. Just a year and a half later, Growga employs 17 teachers and works with 17 partners, bringing yoga primarily to kids but also to classes mixing kids and parents. Behr said Growga also offers training, mentorship and placement for teachers and plans to grow its teacher base by 300 percent by the end of this year, while increasing its digital offerings.
With the amount of pressure and stress kids are under, Growga can make a clear impact with its programming. Anxiety starts very young in children, as early as around 6 years old, Behr said.
“Kids are stressed, and they’re under a lot of pressure,” Behr said. “As they get older and older, the pressures increase. Our program is really a way to equip them with tools so that they can deal with these stresses and pressures. What we have found is that there’s also a need for a lot of student-focused, children-focused and youth-focused organizations and businesses to kind of have a way to implement a program without having to build it from scratch. So we’re plug-and-literally-play for these businesses who can come to us and say, hey we’re interested in elevating or differentiating our children’s programming.”
Moving forward, Behr hopes her company can grow to where social-emotional learning, yoga, and mindfulness are all interwoven in life, especially in schools, after-school programs and gyms.
“All of our curriculum is based around evidence-based techniques that can really help serve the whole child, not just certain aspects,” Behr said. “It’s not just a physical fitness program. It’s not an academic program. It’s the whole body and whole child.”
Although yoga is not traditionally viewed through the lens of technology, Growga’s content delivery has been effective with Mindful May. During that month, Growga provided their clients with daily digital content—including audio, videos or blogs—to make programming accessible. Growga also looks to incorporate technology into teacher training, mentorship and placement.
“I think there’s also an interesting piece between client bookings and the placement of our teachers,” Behr said. “So we’re exploring working with some experts to figure out how we can do it a little bit better than how it’s being done now, so that it’s really streamlined for both our partners and our teachers.”
At the end of the day, Behr created Growga because mindfulness and community are near and dear to her heart. She felt that if it’s a need in her life, it must be a need in someone else’s life too. So far, given that Behr estimates Growga will increase its revenue by 600 percent by the end of this year, she’s been proven right.
“As a mom myself, I created this because this is what I know I would love to have for my children and for myself personally,” Behr said about the community element of Growga. “That’s why I created the mentorship program and the placement program, because you can make such a larger impact if you’re working on something together than if it’s one person knocking on doors. So I just think the opportunities are endless on the impact we can make and the lives we can change.”