Previously, we have spotlighted both yoga as a healthy practice and the yoga community at large as being very welcoming and inclusive. Now, it is in the spirit of the holiday season that we want to call attention once more to the good work the yoga community is doing.
Yogis and yoga practitioners tend to be quite generous in the ways they give back to their cities, to their countries and to their fellow human beings. We want to celebrate all these charitable efforts.
Below are 20 charities and fundraising activities that seek to make the world a better place through yoga. In some cases, it’s yoga studios raising money for specific causes. In others, it’s large yoga events designed to raise money. Finally, there are some organizations using yoga itself to promote wellness within certain communities, especially among those communities’ most vulnerable members.
Here are a few such events and organizations worth your attention.
In September 2014, the One Love Movement hosted its third-annual outdoor charity yoga class, which all told raised more than $23,000 for a couple of charities that work to benefit local underprivileged youth: Outdoor Outreach and San Diego Youth Services.
Power in the Park is a regular donations-only yoga class, proceeds from which go entirely to various charities, in Playa Vista, just south of Santa Monica. Mid-October saw the fourth annual Power for Pink, which raised money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Thrive, a yoga and massage studio near Mobile, Alabama, hosts a twice-monthly Sunset Yoga event from March through October, with proceeds from donations going to specific charities. The events are over now for the 2014 season, but look for a new schedule of classes in the early spring. Teachers and beneficiary charities will then be listed.
Every summer, the Yoga Garden Party offers a weekend of yoga to all participants with the intention of raising money for the Hope Foundation, which serves impoverished children around Kolkata. The 2014 event, hosted at a beautiful farm in Kent, raised more than $18,000, and organizers have already booked it again for the next garden party, on the weekend of Aug. 1, 2015.
Yoga Studios That Donate to Charities
Flow Yoga Center is committed to the idea of selflessness, of “seva” in Punjabi, and to that end the studio organizes weekly donation-only classes, proceeds from which go to benefit DC-area charities.
Y2 Yoga gets the top score for most cleverly named event. The Dharma Initiative hosts a donations-only class every Sunday, and classes each month go to support a different charity.
Yoga Space in Fairfield County, Conn., hosts two by-donation yoga classes each week (Tuesdays at noon and Sundays at 4 p.m.) to benefit a variety of charities. Previous beneficiaries of members’ donations have included The Women’s Center of Danbury — a nearby city — Save The Children, and the Connecticut Food Banks.
Higher Ground is actually a private, in-home yoga service that takes on just a few clients at a time, but owner Kelly Newsome’s background is in nonprofit consulting, and she uses her business as a platform for charitable giving. As such, she hosts by-donation classes from time to time, proceeds from which support select charities.
The Samahita Centered Yoga complex is located in Ko Samui, an island off the east coast of Thailand, where students and staff work to help rebuild schools and temples, and clean up beach areas. If you ever want to combine yoga, charity and a trip to Thailand, this might be a fantastic option.
Moksha Yoga International, with its headquarters in Toronto, has a number of affiliated studios through North America that have special classes every August and September to raise money for Amnesty International.
Another group of studios based in Ontario, Ahimsa Yoga studios host a couple of donation-only classes each week, proceeds from which go to a variety of worthy causes, including a local women’s shelter, a local food bank, and school-building projects in Haiti and Ghana.
Empowering Others Through Yoga
Yoga Gangsters in the Miami area has a tongue-in-cheek name to describe the at-risk and underprivileged youth to whom it offers yoga classes. It also offers some students a full scholarship to is Urban Guru program so the kids can become masters of yoga in their own rights, then able to share their knowledge with others.
Through the efforts of volunteers, New Orleans Women’s Shelter is able to offer women in vulnerable circumstances a variety of services, from providing shelter to pregnant women to teaching yoga classes and promoting its healing benefits.
Ourmala, based in the United Kingdom, teaches to women who are refugees or asylum-seekers so that they might find strength and hope during a particularly difficult period in their lives.
Yoga Outreach is a Canadian charity that was founded in 1996 to provide therapeutic and healing yoga classes to prisoners in British Columbia. Since those early days, it has grown into a wide network of yoga professionals who volunteer their time to help reach out to members of the community who might not otherwise ever get the chance to set foot on a yoga mat.
The Anxiety Resource Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was created in 2005 to give those suffering from anxiety a safe place to find support. Part of the center’s work includes a free yoga class once a week.
Another UK-based charity, PPT leads yoga and meditation classes in prisons around the UK and Ireland — free for inmates and prison staff — in the hope that it can improve the spiritual well-being of participants.
This one doesn’t really fit in any of our categories, but The Bolder Mat Company in Boulder, Colorado, deserves a shout-out nonetheless. The team here takes in used yoga mats, recycles them, and donates them to many of the charities on this list.
Houston’s In-Powered teaches yoga to a variety of communities with the intention to share its therapeutic and healing values. “Accompanied with the physical practice, we are committed to delivering all of the healing benefits that yoga has to offer to communities outside the traditional walls of a yoga studio,” organizers write.
Yoga Gives Back is an LA-based nonprofit that raises money for women and children in India, the birthplace of yoga. In recent years, the organization has created micro-lending programs, the Sister Aid program to fund educational and vocational activities, and the SHE scholarship. In total, Yoga Gives Back has been able to reach more than 500 women and children in India in 2014.
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