Seva = Selfless Service
When I discovered yoga in 1995, it opened my eyes to one of the most beautiful aspects of the practice. Giving back has always been part of my upbringing as my mom was a teacher who gave so much of herself to her students. I saw her always giving to others who may have needed that extra love, a listening ear, care, money or a place to stay. She proved to be such a sweet example of how I wanted to live my life. As I delved into my yoga practice in my mid 20’s, yoga was that gift that just kept giving- whether it was for me to learn what it means to be “present,” or to teach my 1st grade students lion’s breath to get out their extra energy. While living in San Francisco, I began to donate my time to teaching kids and moms in homeless shelters as well as for various children’s organizations until finally I found a project that I knew I had to support. The Africa Yoga Project was that organization.
IRIS – Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Service
IRIS is the primary resource as the refugees and immigrants begin to rebuild their lives after years of persecution and displacement. About 500 come to Connecticut, where they are placed with one of three refugee agencies, including IRIS, based in New Haven. IRIS helps refugees on the road to self-sufficiency by providing lifesaving support during their transition to life in the United States. IRIS case managers greet refugees and take them to apartments — rented by IRIS and furnished with donated furniture. With the state of our country the way it is right now, all of my fundraising efforts will go to IRIS this year. I personally feel like refugees and immigrants make our nation the diverse, amazing country it is and I am saddened by the ban in place. I will do family yoga classes throughout the year to benefit Iris – Integrated Refugee and Immigration Service.
Yoga Reaches Out
In 2016, my year of service was to take on the co-chair position of the inaugural event of Yoga Reaches Out for CT. We supported the local organizations 108 Monkeys and Sandy Hook Promise You can read more about this work and how to get involved in the next one.
Africa Yoga Project
Africa Yoga Project was created in 2007 in Nairobi, Kenya to train youth and build the wellness industry so that previously un- or under-employed youth from marginalized communities earn a self-sustaining income as community leaders who have the ability to build healthy, wellness-promoting communities. In June of 2013, I had the opportunity to spend 13 days on a Seva Safari with 16 others as part of Team Next Generation Yoga for the Africa Yoga Project. You can read more about the important work we did there and see how you can get involved by donating or doing a Seva Safari of your own.