Posts from ‘service’
Moonlitmoth is a small blog with big ideas about yoga and social justice in Vancouver, BC. In a recent post, Andrea, the voice behind the blog, did a smart and incisive analysis of an Elephant Journal profile of Karma Teachers, a studio that offers free or by donation classes in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The DTES is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada and noted for a high incidence of drug use, sex trade and crime. The blog points out that even though the article (and the studio) are dripping with good intentions, the language used to explain Karma Teachers’ work is problematic.
From the post:
What I’d like to draw some attention to here is the language used to the describe the “huddled masses” Karma Teachers are “in service to”:
“We have walked around East Hastings several times, treading carefully around its edges as if not to wake a dragon. The sights are indeed lamentable: homeless, drug addicts, drunks, prostitutes stumble mindlessly from one side of the street to the other, some silent and lost in thought, others raging loudly against the world, some mumbling incoherently and some intimidating outside voyeurs with defiant looks. This is where Karma Teachers have opened their new studio. They are on a mission: teaching yoga for free with an open door policy in this forgotten part of town” (emphasis added). Continue Reading
Oof, so the Republican National Convention happened this week! The only thing more embarrassing than Clint Eastwood’s rambling and incoherent speech was the Huffington Oasis, an Off The Mat, Into The World collaboration with the Huffington Post. The Oasis offered up massages, yoga classes, organic food and smoothies for RNC delegates and media.
OTM stated their intention in an Elephant Journal article: “The Oasis was designed to provide the politicians, media, etc. a refuge where, instead of grabbing a Red Bull and burger between sessions, they could come to reconnect to their bodies, minds and intentions in an environment providing sustainable methods for grounding, health and healing in an otherwise supercharged environment….”
I’ve been paying attention to this strange coupling all week, but have only worked up the energy to post about it now. A couple of days ago, I joined forces with The Babarazzi to point out the inherent paradox and contradictions of this essential oil-scented yoga spa oasis, which is so earnest, naïve and misguided it makes my heart ache. Continue Reading
Offering yoga to underserved populations is one of the most radical things a concerned yogi can do. But how do you bring the practice of yoga to people who may not have access to it? What do you need to shine in the name of service? Here are three resources to help you start a revolution of the heart – before you jump out of the studio and into the streets.
Get Connected: Yoga Service Council Membership
The YSC has just opened membership opportunities to interested individuals and organizations. Membership will help the budding council increase connection between people in the field of yoga service, broaden its reach, and strengthen its capacity to provide leadership opportunities.
For an annual fee of $60, members receive access to a forthcoming journal, discounts for upcoming Yoga Service Conferences and the eligibility to submit for conference faculty positions.
Get Informed: Yoga Activist Website
Washington DC-based Yoga Activist is an online hub that supports connectivity across the yoga outreach community. Their website is chock full of information to help teachers prepare to offer high-quality yoga service work to their communities, track their effectiveness and connect with service providers.
Get Researched: Kelly McGonigal’s DIY Research Resources
If you’re approaching organizations or have a strong interest in creating a yoga service program, you may need hard data that back up your claims about yoga’s benefits. For her presentation at the Yoga Service Conference, Kelly McGonigal compiled everything you need to know to find, do and communicate research. This research can then used to evaluate and improve programs, secure funding, and present findings to others.
In her opening remarks for the first annual Yoga Service Conference, Beryl Bender Birch asked the 145 conference attendees gathered at the Omega Institute: “What drives us to come together? What motivates you to serve?”
These questions set the tone for the three-day event, and I found myself coming back to them again and again, whether I was watching panel discussions, keynote speeches or chatting with new friends over lunch.
The conference was organized by the Yoga Service Council, a network of organizations and individuals working to bring yoga to underserved populations. The council was formed in 2009 after a group of people doing similar yet varied work were invited to the Omega Institute to support each other, collaborate and share resources. They’ve met there each May for the past three years, and it was clear that the beautiful Omega campus was a homebase for the council, a place where the co-leaders could solidify the vision and determine the direction. Continue Reading
Around North America, there are enthusiastic selfless yoga teachers who want to take their teaching out of the studio and into their communities. There are also service organizations (and prisons, women’s shelters, youth centres) who have heard of the benefits of yoga but don’t how to access teachers who can serve their populations.
Enter the Yoga Service Council. As founding member Jennifer Cohen Harper (of Little Flower Yoga) explains in this video interview, the council was formed in 2009 to “support individuals and organizations to best serve and empower their communities through yoga and mindfulness.” For the past three years, the council has been growing organically, drawing in member organizations and refining their vision and purpose.
Now, the council is ready to make their presence known, and the upcoming Yoga Service Conference (May 18 – 20) at the Omega Institute is their “debutante ball.” The intention of the conference is to forge relationships, build skills and inspire both yoga teachers and service providers. With community leaders such as Gabor Maté, Seane Corne and Beryl Bender Birch, the conference looks like it will be a groundbreaking event and an amazing opportunity to see where yoga and service can meet.
Learn more about the Yoga Service Council and the first annual Yoga Service Conference in my conversation with Jennifer!