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Sunday, April 26, 2009

giving back to the source

Compassion expands your practice.
Express your compassion beyond the mat, beyond the studio, across the globe.

-- yogagivesback.org

as we all know, yoga originated in india many centuries ago. through this ancient practice, we have enriched our minds, our bodies, and our souls. a good number of those in the yoga community have also managed to make a fairly decent living off their yoga practice -- whether it be through teaching classes, marketing products, or writing books; in other words, yoga has been a source of health and wealth for many here in the US.

while we continue to reap the benefits of yoga, modern day indians struggle to survive. one in four of india's 1.1 billion population lives below the government poverty threshold of 40 cents a day. nearly half of the world's poorest people call india home.

and this is where joel bender, jason kolker, and kayoko mitsumatsu, collectively known as yoga gives back, comes in. as they put it, they want to show their gratitude and give back to the source.

working hand-in-hand with the grameen foundation, yoga gives back's mission is to raise funds that will be used for microfinance in india. this is how the grameen foundation explains the concept of microfinance:

Sometimes called “banking for the poor,” microfinance is an amazingly simple approach that has been proven to empower very poor people around the world to pull themselves out of poverty. Relying on their traditional skills and entrepreneurial instincts, very poor people, mostly women, use small loans (usually less than US$200), other financial services, and support from local organizations called microfinance institutions (MFIs) to start, establish, sustain, or expand very small, self-supporting businesses. A key to microfinance is the recycling of loan dollars. As each loan is repaid—usually within six months to a year—the money is recycled as another loan, thus multiplying the value of each dollar in defeating global poverty, and changing lives and communities.

yoga gives back has already held two fundraisers in the LA area within the past month. last march 29th, a workshop was taught by pagan with music provided by the temple bhajan band at liberation yoga in los angeles; on april 11th, a workshop was team-taught by twelve(!) teachers at black dog yoga in sherman oaks.**

** postscript -- i contacted peter barnett of black dog yoga so he could refresh my memory regarding the event at his studio. here's what he sent back:
The teachers were: Hanna Gilan, Shawn Bracha, Heidi Kaufman, Clay Kyle, Jenny Brill, John Sahakian, Tiffany Fraser, Peter Barnett, Shari Goodhartz, and Lauri Janover.
Live music was provided by Kalani on Japanese flute, frame drum, harmonium and Victor on guitar, mandolin, harmonium and myself on mridangam.
thanks, peter!

not only were the teachers excellent at both of the workshops, but there were refreshments and raffle prizes provided to all who attended. i was fortunate to have been at both events; while i was able to donate what little i could (unfortunately, unemployment doesn't allow me to be as generous as i'd like to be), i actually felt like i had received much more in return. it's so heartwarming to know that there's so much generosity in the yoga community!

in the interest of time, since the next event is THIS weekend (and i apologize for not posting this sooner!), i'd like to share with you the details of the upcoming fundraiser so that you might have a chance to help out, too.

Yoga Gives Back ~ Energy, Action, Change!
With Ashley Albrand, Claudia Fucigna and Taylor Estes
Liberation Yoga, Los Angeles
Sunday, April 26th 1:30pm-4:30pm
$15 early registration at YogaGivesBack@Earthlink.net - $20 at the door

These dynamic teachers join together to support Yoga Gives Back, teaching a workshop focused on Shakti, the concept of divine feminine creativity! This celebration will fund micro-credit for struggling women in India while joining in thanks for the yoga practice that India has given to us!... Live music by Sneaky Snake! Raffle! Refreshments to follow... Soak yourself in the raw Shakti spirit!


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