Yoga means union; the practice seeks to find harmony and synchronicity between the body, mind, and spirit of the practitioner. When people think of yoga, most probably think of people in fancy poses looking sleek and toned. In reality, the physical practice of yoga, asana, is only a small part of the overall practice of yoga. The physical poses are a big part of modern yoga, but other pillars of yoga, such as nonviolence, service to others, breath, meditation, should all be incorporated into the practice to be able to get closer to that idea of unity.
A big concept in yoga is seva, which means selfless service. Seva is meant to help the practitioner grow spiritually, for we are all made better when we serve others. It is also meant to improve the communities being served. Giving without expecting to receive anything in return is thought of as blessed action. Many yogis practice seva on a daily basis, whether on small or large scales. It can be as simple as cooking food for a neighbor going through a hard time, or as big as starting nonprofits or yoga charities to empower underserved communities, and anything in between.
We want to highlight some of our favorite yoga charities that are demonstrating seva through their work. These organizations inspire us everyday to be more giving, more compassionate, and more active in making the world a better place.
Kula for Karma is one of many yoga charities that believes in the therapeutic power of yoga and believes the practice should be accessible to all people. They offer free yoga programs to people with mental, physical, and emotional challenges, such as illness, disease, trauma, abuse, and addiction. They have over 600 programs run by dedicated volunteers, yoga instructors, medical professionals, and businessmen and women. They have programs for a wide variety of groups, including at-risk youth, cancer patients, veterans, those with mental illnesses, survivors of domestic violence, seniors, and more. Aurorae is proud to be a strong supporter for Kula for Karma.
Yoga Gives Back seeks to find a way to help the poorest people in the country that gave birth to yoga, India. This yoga charity highlights the fact that the US yoga industry generates billions of dollars a year as yoga’s popularity continues to grow worldwide. They aim to take a fraction of this money and direct it towards empowering women in India. Today, Yoga Gives Back funds nearly 900 mothers and children with micro loan programs, education funds and scholarships for higher education in Karnataka and West Bengal.
Prison Yoga Project recognizes that most prisoners were at some point in their lives exposed to trauma, violence, hunger, abuse, and/or poverty that likely contributed to how they ended up in prison. Practices such as yoga enriched with mindfulness practices can have a large impact in alleviating the symptoms that lead to both reactive behaviors and stress related disease. The Prison Yoga Project was founded in the belief that yoga, taught specifically as a mindfulness practice, is very effective in releasing deeply held, unresolved trauma, allowing us to address the resultant behavioral issues.
These yoga charities exemplify seva, selfless service, everyday through their outreach and compassion towards all people. We hope you will join us in celebrating them and following their stories of helping and serving others.