Ten yoga-inspired activist groups you need to know
As yogis we are all compassionate and committed to making the world a better place – equal, just and free – for everybody.
Here are just some of the many causes you can join to make that happen – and meet some amazing fellow yogis along the way.
by LUCY EDGE
Ode to the Moon
Ode to the Moon, 50.1K followers
Founded by the charismatic Italian yogi Eleanora Zampatti, Ode to the Moon is a non-profit organisation helping victims of domestic violence. Trapped in an abusive relationship, yoga gave Eleanor the courage and strength to leave. As she puts it, ‘Yoga changed my life, moving from a place of fear into a place of light.’
Now living in Monmouth County, New Jersey, Eleanora and her team work throughout the States and in Europe, using visual art, yoga and music to inspire, involve, and cultivate compassion. The organisation gives those suffering in silence victims a voice, offers a clear path to assistance and aims to wash away the shame often attached to domestic violence.
Off the Mat, Into the World
Off the Mat, Into the World, 7.5K followers
Created by yoga luminary Seane Corn, Off the Mat Into the World (OTM) is a non-profit organization that uses the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and to ignite grassroots social change. Founded in 2007, it has already raised $3.4m for humanitarian relief and led over 100 projects.
OTM uses the tools of yoga, meditation, and self-inquiry to inspire leaders to create conscious, sustainable change. Rooted in compassion and connection, all yogis are invited to awaken to suffering and take action, creating a peaceful and connected global community.
Yoga Gives Back
@yogagivesback, 13.4k followers
Started in Los Angeles in 2007, Yoga Gives Back is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds for impoverished mothers and children in India – the birthplace of yoga. The idea is that the cost of one yoga class can change a life; $15 a month becomes a micro loan or education fund in India.
The Give Back Yoga Foundation
@givebackyogafoundation, 2.7k followers
Created by the well-known yoga teacher Beryl Bender Birch, The Give Back Yoga Foundation supports and funds certified yoga teachers of all traditions to bring yoga and mindfulness techniques to underserved and under-resourced segments of the community. Sharing the transformational power of yoga with the world takes many forms – from teaching incarcerated men and women non-violent problem resolution to helping veterans towards a calm body and mind.
The Africa Yoga Project
@africayogaproject, 21.4k followers
The Africa Yoga Project was inspired by a chance meeting on a family holiday in Kenya. When Paige Elenson met the ‘Ghetto Girls’, five teens travelling 2 hours a day to practice their beloved yoga, she was inspired to create a yoga teacher training programme as an avenue to education, employment and empowerment.
Working with yoga legend Baron Baptiste, to date AYP has trained over 200 young people as yoga teachers, and over 6000 people now participate in more than 300 community classes a week.
@operationshanti, 224 followers
Operation Shanti believes everyone should have the opportunity to live to their potential. Working in Mysore, India they provide essential human in three areas – home, street and food. Project Home provides a safe haven for forty destitute children. Project Street helps mothers living on the street. Project Food distributes monthly care packages to families affected by medical hardship.
New Leaf Yoga Foundation
@newleafyoga, 995 followers
New Leaf Yoga Foundation was founded in Toronto in 2007 on the belief that yoga can be a powerful contributor to social change, and that change on a large scale starts one person at a time. People whose own lives had been impacted by yoga created it, wanting to create opportunities for others to participate in yoga, especially young people at-risk due to trauma, marginalization, and incarceration.
The organization aims to make yoga accessible to youth – enabling them to tap into their inner strength and resources, in order to cultivate peace in their lives. The organisation also provides on-going support for teachers and staff so that long-term, committed programs can flourish.
Reach & Raise
@livingbeyondbc, 2.5K followers
Reach & Raise is an inspiring and healing outdoor all-levels yoga class that connects thousands of people living with and impacted by breast cancer.
Created in 2000 by Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) CEO Jean Sachs and yoga instructor Jennifer Shelter, Reach & Raise has everyone experience a transcendent unity – participants are breathing together, at times linking arms or supporting each other in a pose—turning their hearts turned toward each other, rather than a finish line. Moreover, by creating a pathway to trying yoga, the events introduce people affected by breast cancer to a well-documented wellness strategy, with proven mental and physical well-being benefits.
The Prison Phoenix Trust
Registered as a charity in 1988, The Prison Phoenix Trust encourages prisoners in the development of their spiritual welfare, through the practices of meditation and yoga, working with silence and the breath.
Individual support is offered in to prisoners and staff in prisons, young offender institutions, immigration removal centres, secure hospitals and probation hostels.
Access is given through teaching, correspondence, books and newsletters. A key aspect of the work is training and supporting qualified yoga teachers to teach in prison and other secure conditions.
The Prison Yoga Project
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 behavioural issues.
Prison Yoga’s objective is to provide prisoners with a mindfulness tool to draw on their yoga practice when they’re not doing yoga. If they’re tangled in a confrontation on the yard, or upon release, or tempted to go back to using, they can draw on what they have learned from yoga for practical solutions. They can do it without actually having to do a yoga pose to get the value. As Founder James Fox M.A. says, ‘that’s the transformational, rehabilitative value of yoga.’
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