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The City Journals

Heugly’s Vision Fuses Yoga, Therapy

Apr 07, 2016 12:18PM ● By Travis Barton

By Travis Barton | [email protected] 

Cottonwood - Holladay - Brandon Heugly is easily identifiable, not just because of the full beard, but because he has always been heavily involved in helping kids, from selling toys for kids to play with to working with them on a therapeutic level. 

Therapy has played a key role in Heugly’s life, whether when he worked as a paraprofessional while going through a divorce or as a teenager churning through therapist after therapist.  

“[As a teenager] I was crazy—lots of anger, lots of animosity, and I didn’t build trust with any of those therapists,” Heugly said. 

Removed from his home at 14 due to abusive circumstances and placed with his adoptive parents, Heugly met with multiple therapists but never built any trust—until he met one at 17, who let him be who he was. 

“That person had a profound effect on my life, and really all that person did was sit there, hold the space and love me,” Heugly said. 

Shortly after returning from a service mission to Serbia at 21 years old, Heugly married his best friend. Only she was 33 years his senior, raising plenty of eyebrows from the community. 

Heugly, was working selling toys to Walmart at the time of his divorce some years later. After this, he quit the toy-selling business to become a paraprofessional, going from earning a six-figure income to $9.50 an hour.

That’s when he found his life calling.

Heugly said he was going through the hardest transition in his personal life when he started working with kids with disabilities. Some of these included a kindergarten student with Prader-Willi syndrome which, among other things, produces an insatiable appetite, leading to chronic overeating. 

“This girl had the most positive outlook while suffering one of the most terrible disorders,” Heugly said. 

Heugly said working with kids was exactly what he needed at that time in a life of traumatic experiences.

“What I found was none of that even matters,” Heugly said. “What matters is loving the kids, because when I’m working with them, I don’t feel so crappy.”

Heugly’s love for children motivated him further. In 2006, he started Camp Dakota, a summer-based organization for kids with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.  

Heugly, who holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah, decided there needed to be a place where both children and adults could drop in for meditation, therapy and positive regard at any time. That idea spawned Ripple Affect. 

Semi-defined as the brainchild of Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and restorative yoga; Ripple Affect, which opened in August 2015, combines therapy, yoga and consistent positive affirmations to assist whoever enters the studio. 

Heugly, who also works as social worker for Granite School District, said they structured the organization so people can drop in at anytime instead of a typical therapy program where it’s only once a week or even twice a month. 

“I wanted to provide a resource so people can come in when they’re having a hard time instead of waiting for their next visit,” Heugly said. 

Brandon Aegerter, support groups manager, said the studio is not meant to take clients away from therapists, just to inspire a more proactive approach in the person’s life. He said he thinks of Ripple Affect as journaling. 

“It’s meant as a daily intervention which acts as a word or two in their journal,” Aegerter said. “But then when they have a paragraph they can share at their next therapy session, they can say ‘here’s the progress and here’s why.’”

The building is home to a yoga studio, two therapy rooms, an open area for group meetings, a meditation area, homework area for the kids and an affirmation board where dozens of positive quotes cover every inch of a chalk board wall. 

“We really cover a wide range of…everything,” Aegerter said. 

Everything includes the support group meetings, therapy for kids and adults, an after-school program to help kids with homework, a weekend social skills for kids with functioning deficits and a yoga studio for everyone. 

Heugly said their brand of yoga is designed to bring up emotions or personal feelings. 

“That way we have staff here to help process all of that heaviness here,” Heugly said, “It’s awesome to be able to decompress in a peaceful place rather than rushing off to the next thing on your to-do list.”

Heugly, 30, carries the logo of Ripple Affect everywhere he goes, as a tattoo on his wrist. It depicts a drop of liquid falling into water giving the company its name. 

Ripple Affect is the embodiment of Heugly himself. 

“We have our own stuff individually that’s challenging, but if we could take on the pain of others then we totally would,” Aegerter said. “And that’s Brandon [Heugly] to a tee.”

Claudine Miller, staff worker, said Heugly’s had a tremendous influence on her son’s life.

“He [her son, Lincoln] told his school teacher that he wants to grow up and be just like Brandon, helping kids,” Miller said. 

For Heugly, who hasn’t taken a paycheck yet from his new endeavor, it’s always been about the “kiddos” who affectionately refer to him as “the hippie Jesus.” 

“Kids keep you humble,” Heugly said. 

Despite his childhood trauma, teen adoption and divorcing his best friend; Heugly found his bliss helping children. 

“Kids are where I’m able to find peace,” Heugly said.