E – RYT 500, 800 – Hour Jivamukti Certified, AADP, VLCE
Nina Hayes is an LA based Advanced Certified Yoga Instructor & Retreat Leader. She credits her yoga practice with providing the tools to heal from a once debilitating illness and she is devoted to facilitating both physical and spiritual healing in others.
Before moving to LA, Nina instructed yoga and meditation workshops for corporations and universities throughout the U.S., taught movement for children with special needs at the Boston Ballet, and researched exercise & nutrition initiatives to benefit underserved populations with Children’s Hospital and Harvard Cancer Center. As a plant based chef, Nina founded an award-winning vegan Bonbon Company and provided greenroom vegan treats for artists’ Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Her personal practice and teachings have taken her around the world to Australia, India, Europe, and Bali. Instructing since 2009, Nina has trained extensively with Jivamukti Yoga NYC, Samadhi Yoga in Sydney, and received specialized training in Yoga for Cancer from Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Dance from the University of Massachusetts. Presently, Nina is thrilled to cultivate compassionate community at Tantris, her new “yoga home”, and serve as an International Ambassador for Yoga Gives Back. Nina's classes are authentic yet accessible to practitioners of all levels at all stages of life. Students connect with Nina’s warmth, enjoy her scriptural lectures, and appreciate her embodiment of love and light. Nina is deeply grateful for her teachers, notably Sharon-ji Gannon, David-ji Life, and Joshua Greene (Yogesvara).
"Having traveled to India and witnessed the extreme poverty, economic and gender disparity faced by a disproportionate number of women and children, closing my eyes to this suffering would only erode my sense of humanity. Societies greatest thinkers and spiritual leaders have often remarked that the true test of civilization is measured by our ability to care for those most vulnerable: women, children, the sick, and the elderly. We know this is true, yet overwhelmed by suffering we become numb and disempowered. I am grateful to Yoga Gives Back’s for providing organization, infrastructure and tenacity that allow me to use my life to ease this suffering. Only through compassion is it possible to heal our collective sense of disconnection from each other and love itself."
Becky Stone is a wife, a mother, a yoga teacher and a could-be writer from Strathmore, Alberta, Canada. Practicing ever since she stumbled on a yoga vhs tape when she was pregnant 16 years ago, she has been sharing yoga as a teacher since 2010. The gift of yoga has blessed her health and well-being, and as a teacher, writer and studio owner, it has blessed her with a livelihood that allows her to share that blessing with others. Becky has been a supporter of Yoga Gives Back since 2014, and is delighted to become an official ambassador.
*Becky has been hosting a fundraiser class for YGB for the last 3 years, and just finished her Yoga in the Park summer fundraiser for YGB.
Sol Barros always had the need to express her emotions, thanks to this and her experience made her interested in how the different religions manifest themselves, taking shelter in Tibetan Buddhism. She began to enjoy the pleasure of the meditation, to contemplate her own being and everything that redeemed it, but she felt that there was still something else. It was there when she began with yoga practice almost 20 years ago, finding a deep passion for it, which remains intact.
She began the study of Yoga through Ashtanga Yoga, then studied a degree and pre-teaching Yoga at USAL (University of Salvador) in Buenos Aires.
She shares and experiences the different branches of Yoga like Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Restorative Yoga, Yoga nidra, learning and teaching around the world.
"At first I felt very honored to be part of YGB, to be able to give something back to Mother India, the place where all the learning that changed my life was born, that was a huge gift in itself .... but as time went by, I started to internalize the wonderful work that Kayoko does. Today giving became a necessity for me, as much and as best as I can, so that mothers and children have a worthy life. I wish someday I will be able to help on the battlefield, physically there with the support and human help too ... for the time being, I will go on supporting, helping YGB and inspiring others to do so too ... It does not take much, just the desire to give."
Mary Kirkendoll is the owner of the Eudora Yoga Center in Eudora, Kansas. Born and raised in California, Mary earned three degrees in classical flute performance from music schools in New York and Kansas and has taught and performed classical contemporary music around the world. It was in 2009 that she was introduced to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, and will be forever grateful for the opportunity to be a student of this beautiful practice. She received yoga teacher certifications and is thankful to all of her many teachers for their support and guidance. In 2015 Mary opened the Eudora Yoga Center, sold her flutes, and is following her interests in Sanskrit and Zen. She lives with her husband, her mother, and her dog Mr. Sam.
"At the prompting of another ambassador, I sat down to hear a YGB presentation at the 2016 Ashtanga Confluence. I was impressed by the mission of this organization, but did not truly understand how effective their efforts could be until I took my first trip to South India the following year, visiting small villages and tribal communities. I witnessed other impressive organizations with similar missions, and am grateful to have the opportunity to work with YGB as Mother India continues to open her loving arms to all of us. "
Mikey Budd is a Jersey boy, and proud of it. He's always had an active lifestyle as a soccer player, runner and of course, break dancer! But, it wasn't until he found the beauty & benefit in yoga, that he finally felt centered. After traveling to India for 5 weeks, Mikey became a certified yoga instructor and wanted to share his knowledge to all. As an active part of the community, he brings yoga to places and people who don’t have access to classes including low income families, at-risk students, and prisoners at no cost. Mikey also currently teaches at Playlist. Yoga in West Hollywood and his days as a "b-boy" are the baseline for his innovative hip-hop flows.
"India has a very near and dear place to my heart after visiting for 5 weeks. As magical and mystical as it was, there were also a lot of harsh realities that I saw and unfortunately, the poverty and caste system is indescribable. Yoga Gives Back is an amazing foundation that works to eliminate these burdens especially for women and children. It’s so important for people to be educated, fed, and know they are loved which is what YGB does. I support any organization that benefits those less fortunate, but YGB truly targets where change can be made the most. It is amazing to give back to the country that has given us one of the greatest gifts of all."
Brigitte grew up in Denmark and moved to Los Angels at 19 where she started studying psychology, massage therapy, meditation & yoga. Yoga became her passion and started teaching full time since 1993.
She studied with many great teachers, who at different times in her life taught me about myself and helped me grow. These are the teachers who influenced me the most: Erich Schiffman, Lisa Walford, Maty Ezraty, Rod Stryker, Gary Kraftsow and John Friend.
"Yoga is an amazing and gift to the world. I am so very thankful for yoga and the opportunity to help spread the profound and ancient teachings. In meeting with Kayoko, I was immediately convinced to be part of Yoga Gives Back. It is her passion, heart, and integrity that is the backbone of this beautiful organization. Yes, I am happy to give back, empowering women and children in India to build sustainable livelihoods."
Mandy Ingber, The New York Times best-selling author of Yogalosophy: 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeover and creator of the yoga-hybrid DVD YOGALOSOPHY, is a celebrity fitness and wellness expert. Her twenty years of teaching experience have attracted such clients as Jennifer Aniston, Kate Beckinsale, Helen Hunt, Ricki Lake, Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Meyer, and Brooke Shields.
"I love that YGB helps women and children to be empowered through their programs, such as education scholarships, small business loans for women and an orphanage.The reach of YGB is broad and essential. Often times I can feel hopeless, because there are so many problems and I get overwhelmed. The programs provided by YGB are small and effective steps toward self empowerment. This is what yoga has given me, and I am grateful to share that with others. Our loftiest goals begin in this moment, with a tiny step forward. "
Kerill is a dedicated yoga practitioner whose fundamental motivation in teaching is to work with the integrity of the body as a means of accessing the alignment of the breath and spirit. She has a true love of the yogic tradition, modern sciences and the nitty gritty of life. Bringing these together with a touch of humour, she challenges students to step outside their habits and break free of their self-imposed limitations. She believes strongly in the power of breathwork and mindfulness as means of accessing the deep recesses of the mind body connection. It is through this that she sees the true workings of yoga in practice.
Kerill is a Yoga Alliance Experienced 500 Hour Teacher, a registered PreNatal Teacher and has undergone extensive training as a Yoga Therapist, in Pranayama and in specialized anatomy. She has had a dedicated Ashtanga asana practice for over a decade and has been teaching for over 6 years.
She regularly holds specialised yoga workshops in Australia, China and Macau. She has introduced and remains the only Mysore teacher in Macau.
Kerill is inspired by Michel Besnard, Roslyn Ying, Paul Dallaghan, Arielle Nash-Degagne, Richard Freeman, Mary Taylor and Carlos Pomeda.
"In a population of over 1billion people, it is often easy to be overlooked. Handing women and children the quick fix of 'fast money' is not a sustainable way to assist them in escaping the cycle of poverty of India. Offering, instead, micro loans and education, allows women to take control of their own destinies as they start to embrace responsibility and see the potential for a way out for themselves and their children. As yoga practitioners, the practice has allowed us to alleviate our spiritual suffering. I want to help alleviate the physical suffering of this often overlooked population in a way that is sustainable for current and future generations. Its the least I can do to say 'thank you' for the gift this culture has given me."
As a lifetime student of Yoga and a mother of three boys, Gwen finds balance, compassion, peace and resilience in her practice on the mat and endeavour to bring these teachings into her daily life. Gwen is committed in sharing the multitude offerings of yoga practice and is in constant awe of the all the benefits it brings - physical, mental, emotional and psychological.
Gwen’s teaching is shaped by her first teacher, Wanda Hewitt. Gwen feels a deep gratitude to, and draws inspiration from the wise and knowledgeable Judith Hanson Lasater and Tiffany Cruikshank from Yoga Medicine where she learnt how to heal herself and help others.
When Gwen is not studying or teaching, she can be found running after or with her family of boys, and traveling around the world to explore the magic and vibrancy of our beautiful planet. Mostly, she strives to stay present within all the complexity that life presents.
"When I first heard of Yoga Gives Back, I was so inspired by their mission empowering women and providing education to children that I plunged straight into organizing an event. I am very blessed and honored to be a YGB Ambassador. Not only am I able to give back to those less privileged, but I am also to be able to walk the talk - through my involvement with this amazing movement."
Tim Feldmann is the director of Miami Life Center, the yoga shala he founded with his wife Kino MacGregor and runs with Matt Tashjian. He was set on the yoga path by his first teacher Lino Miele and is Authorized to teach directly by the founder of the Ashtanga Yoga Method, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and his grandson, R. Sharath Jois. A practitioner of the Advanced A series Tim is dedicated to Ashtanga Yoga's traditional method.
"The body is the way to our spirit, to our true Self. That's what asana is for".
A near fatal falling accident in 1992 led Tim on the yogic path. His teaching integrates extensive studies of F.M. Alexander Technique and sitting meditation with 20 years of experience as a professional dancer and an internationally acclaimed choreographer. His in-depth knowledge of functional anatomy, alignment as well as the idiosyncratic body and mind in stillness and in motion creates the platform upon which his solid understanding of the Ashtanga method rests.
Tim's humorous, straight forward yet profound teaching style makes him a cherished teacher, traveling extensively throughout Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas.
"As an aspirant of yoga I have found myself looking for personally meaningfulways to help sustain all things in this world of ours. to somehow contribute to establishing a living with the east amount of suffering for some young people in an area of the world which is both without much abundance and yet a place which I hold dear in my heart, is one step to fulfill such meaningful service for me. the priviledge of simply backing an initiative already established instead of having to create one from the ground up makes it both easy and simple for me to lend a hand. YGB is an initiative whom have trust and it is my honor to be helping out as an ambassador."
Bea Whitton is a Jackson Hole, Wyoming based Yoga teacher. Her passion for fitness, wellness and a holistic lifestyle began while living in New York City. During this time she received her 200 hr yoga teacher training at Yoga Vida Studio. Bea also received an additional 100 hours of yoga training, studying under Yogrishi Vishvketu in Rishikesh, India. Bea left behind New York City life and moved to Wyoming in early 2016, relocating to an outdoor-focused, healthy environment where she feels her interests and passions are best suited. Bea is also a certified Vipassana Meditation and spinning instructor.
"I am incredibly lucky to be an Ambassador for such an empowering organization. Yoga Gives Back embodies a compassionate cause that gives back to women and children in India, providing them with tools to reach their full potential. As a female yoga teacher and student who has studied and lived at an ashram in India, this initiative truly resonates with me. I am so grateful for this opportunity to practice yoga through action."
Jessica Walden is a long time Ashtanga yoga practitioner, teacher, and mother. She's spent a lot of time in India and was granted a Teaching Authorization Certificate (Level 2) from the KPJAYI in Mysore. Jessica has also worked in organic food production for over 20 years. 4 years ago, Jessica suffered a major spinal injury and was diagnosed with a severe spinal condition. While initially this injury caused a lot of fear and pain, Jessica used it to inform how she would not only practice yoga from that day forward but how she would approach life. With an awareness of what is happening on the inside and an observance of how to access the subtle energies deep within, she has cultivated a gentle strength, grace, flexibility and relationship with her practice and with life. <br>Jessica’s approach to her teaching is to use humor, stories, and techniques for students that help them to find their own strength, grace, and effortlessness in their practice.
"When I heard about Yoga Gives Back, I was immediately touched and inspired to get involved. Contributing to this great program is so easy and means so much to so many families in India."
Christine began a dedicated Ashtanga practice in 2001. The practice is a keystone, which uses the laboratory of the body to entrain fundamental patterns that ripple into other facets of her life. The Ashtanga practice continues to fascinate and surprise her. Her passion for the practice and for sharing it in the traditional way inspired her to begin to learn to teach this method in 2007. David Keil (yoganatomy.com) has been her primary teacher since 2006. She continues to practice with him several times a year, so that she always remains a student first. She was fortunate to make one trip to Mysore, India to practice with Sharath Rangaswamy in 2013. Christine is also a licensed massage therapist (NC license # 15593) specializing in connective tissue therapy and structural integration. You can learn more about her massage work at themovementpuzzle.com.
"Yoga Gives Back is a wonderful organization! The support of women and children in India through micro-loans and educational opportunities lifts everyone up. The positive impacts are far-reaching. I feel very fortunate to be able to give back through their programs. "
Anjan began his yoga journey at the age of 6. Since then, he has attended and won accolades in more than 350 yoga competitions across India. Through the practice of yoga, Anjan has become a more mindful person and a tremendously knowledgeable teacher. He has been teaching since 1997 when he was still in high school. After acquiring qualifications for Rope Yoga, Kids Yoga, Thai Massage, Pilates Mat and Reformer, PG Diploma in India, as well as studying B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga, Sarbhabharatya Sangift and Sanskrit Parishad, Ratna Yoga, he now teaches Yoga and Pilates in Pure Yoga, HK. He also teaches at the Cancer Fund and other charitable organizations in HK and other countries.
"When I knew about this organization I really wanted to join because I'm coming from India and West Bengal is my state, this organization is working for them, so I could do something for my motherland even I'm far from them. I believe, if I join here I'll be more happy by heart and will do something valuable for the society. So please allow me to join and give me chance to work with you all."
Neva Ingalls is a registered Yoga and Ayurveda lifestyle therapist with APPNA, an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and Director of Inner Domain Yoga and Ayurveda Teacher Training School. She has a lifetime of practice and study of many branches of Yoga, Meditation, Sacred Dance and the Healing arts, thus is uniquely qualified to guide you personally into greater well-being on inner and outer levels.
"I support Yoga Gives Back without reservation, because my esteemed Yoga teacher Lauren Peterson in the Los Angeles area, endorses Kayoto Mitsumatsu, the director of this marvelous organization, trusting fully that women and female children in India are being supported to reach for and achieve their fullest potential, to manifest feminine intelligence in our imbalanced world."
Jennifer grew up in England, then moved to Spain after university, before relocating to Singapore. She started yoga as a way to rehab a badly broken arm and severed nerve. As the physical recovery moved beyond anything her surgeon had anticipated, she started to realize the full potential of a dedicated yoga practice. Jennifer holds 200hr YTT from Shiva Shakti Yoga in India, and trained in traditional Hatha Yoga. She teachesdonation-based classes at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, raising money for different charities every quarter – charities are typically yoga or education-related.
"I strongly believe in creating opportunities for those who are less privileged, and think said opportunities should provide as much autonomy as possible. Yoga Gives Back’s backing of micro credit programs does exactly that, and I love that I can be a part of an organization that truly lives up to its name. I am grateful that yoga has given me a chance to play a small role in providing the independence that so many mothers and children in India need and want."
Lucy ‘found’ yoga (or yoga found her!) in her later 20s, during a stressful time in her life and she hasn’t looked back since. She has been practicing Ashtanga for 7 years and become increasingly passionate about introducing others to the practice.
Originally from London, Lucy graduated from the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, with a degree in art and architectural history. A few years later she went on to gain a Masters in Building Conservation and in 2010, along with 6 others, Lucy set up a successful London-based heritage consultancy. Yoga has proved vital in maintaining a sense of balance and perspective in her busy day-to-day life.
Her lifelong interest in sport further led her to explore how yoga can help athletes, both physically, helping them maintain/improve strength and mobility, and also as a way of improving focus and mental stamina.
Lucy has recently started to cultivate an Ashtanga yoga community in Norwich, where she lives in the UK.
"Yoga has become a huge part of my life and a lifeline when I’ve needed it. The practice has given me something special and being able to pass even just a little of what I’ve learnt on to others is a privilege. I am by no means the most experienced teacher or yogi but I strongly believed that if everyone did just a little bit of yoga daily, the world would be a happier place.I have always strongly believed that women have so much untapped potential. I’ve had great opportunities in my life so far, because of my upbringing - I've studied, set up companies, traveled and been independent. Helping mothers in India to support their families and become empowered to be the best they can be is something yoga has given me, and for that I am grateful."
Michiko is one of the pioneers of fitness exercise in Japan, who was qualified as Oki Yoga Instructor in 2000. Her popular approach to physical practice is based on her own experiments and experiences. Michiko also uses props in many creative ways, which led her to innovate YogaBo (stick) as a tool. Michiko’s vision is “Yoga is for everyone.“ She continues to expand her yoga teachings to people with disabilities, psychological issues and Japan’s growing aging population. Her studio Body & Mind Yoga Studio reaches out to a local community. Michiko also teaches very popular classes nationally and internationally including Asia Yoga Conference, Korea Yoga Festa, and Bali Spirit Festival.
"While we acknowledge our blessing to be able to practice yoga, we should never forget about those who suffer from poverty and hardships in this world. One person can do only so much, but we can achieve tremendous work when our thoughts come together. I would like to take part in Yoga Gives Back to be part of such community of action."
Heeki is a Korean born in Japan and educated in both Korea and the U.S. It was natural for her to step into the world of yoga with her multicultural back ground as her next stage of journey in 1998 while she was studying at UCLA. Her interest in yoga has brought her to explore its path in India and to study many types of yoga & spiritual practices including Ashtanga Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, and Reiki.
In 2007, as an extension of spiritual journey, she opened one of the most influential yoga studios, YOGABREEZE in Fukuoka, Japan. In the same year, she finally met her gurus who totally changed her life style - the creators of Jivamukti Yoga, Sharon Gannon & David Life - who emphasize enlightenment through having compassion to all beings.
She was inspired by the powerful and practical method of Jivamukti Yoga that she became the first Jivamukti Certified Teacher living in Japan in 2008. Since then she has been continuing to teach the method with passion and become an Advanced Certified Jivamukti Yoga Teacher in 2012. With her Gurus' blessings and under their guidance, she has been empowered to convey the method in Japan and internationally teaches workshops and invited to conferences in Asia and Europe.
She joyfully assisted Sharon Gannon & David Life at the 2009 Asia Yoga Conference in Hong Kong and hosted them for the Jivamukti Japan Tour in both 2009 & 2010 and was translator for the 2010 Jivamukti tour and 300-hour TT in New York. Off the mat, Heeki launched the 'Happy Animal Project' in order to awake public about animal abuse & abandon in Fukuoka in 2009 as inspired by her Gurus' spiritual activism. In 2012 March, she published Sharon Gannon’s book 'Yoga and Vegetarianism' in Japanese.
Heeki is actively teaching Jivamukti Yoga at major yoga conferences in Asia and Europe to spread the peaceful message of her teachers.
" I am honored to be an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back. As a yogi, I truly agree with the idea of how YGB started, and without hesitation, I wanted to support YGB mission with compassion. I really liked YGB’s system which is essential and practical to support our sisters and their children in India by giving them not a one time gift but a financial tool that can eventually using the tool to support themselves live better and happier life. My dear teachers Sharon Gannon and David Life always said being a yogi means, being an activist. Meaning not just sitting in the cave and waiting for some change to happen, but take a closer look of what is happening in the world and take action in someway to make changes for happiness, peace, and better lives for all beings which will bring true joy and happiness back to our own life eventually but inevitably. Now as I become the YGB ambassador, I am so looking forward to share things we can do with our conscious yoga practice with my students to make some good changes in someones life, especially for women and children's in India, where our precious teaching came from. Last of all, I’d love to share this sacred mantra that all yogis should remember at all times. ‘Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.’ May all beings everywhere, be happy and free, and may the thoughts words and actions of my own life, contribute in someway, to that happiness and to that freedom for all. (translation by Sharon Gannon)"
Mina is the founder of the Yoga One Studio in the Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. For past 10 years, Mina has dedicated herself to learning and practicing yoga. Her practice has brought greater depth, clarity and joy to her everyday experiences. She loves sharing this with her yoga community through her teaching. Her teaching is disciplined in alignment due to her study and deep knowledge of anatomy. She strives to make her classes nurturing to the soul and to leave her students feeling reconnected to themselves.
"I feel truly humbled to be part of Yoga Gives Back. YGB's work inspires me to help and serve others. Having first participated in YGB's activities while living in Asia, I'm now committed to bringing YGB's message and programs to my new home in the U.A.E. I'm particularly interested in creating sustainable programs that empower woman and give underprivileged children a chance for quality education. Through gift of yoga we can make a difference."
A Los Angeles native with French and Tahitian roots and a deep passion for world travel, Stephanie Crochet embraces different cultures and all ways of life. In 2013, Steph completed 500 hours of Teacher Training at YogaWorks with mentor Kia Miller. That same year she quit her job as a successful recruiter to pursue a passion and career in yoga. To this day, she's never looked back and continues to manifest her dreams. Steph believes when we live from a place of being calm, clear minded and stress free; one can connect to their unique truth and light!
"I want to support YGB because traveling to India in March 2016 was one of the most profound and heart felt experiences for me. I am so grateful to have found yoga, which led me to India. I cannot think of a better way to give back to Mother India for all that she has shared with us in the Western world. "
Sophie Dulac is an international yoga instructor residing on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia. She studied her 200hr YTTC in Mother India. Sophie loves inspiring and guiding people through their yoga practice, taking them deeper into each Asana – and not only physically, but also on a mental and spiritual level. She is inspired by her travels, Mother Nature and the different yoga teachers who have given influence on her yogic journey.
"Yoga Gives Back is a charity that really resonates with me and a wonderful way for me to share my gratitude of yoga. I feel so blessed to have the gift of yoga in my life and to be able to give back to a country that has given me so much. It delights me to know that by sharing my love of yoga with the world I am also helping provide a positive future and empowering those in need in Mother India the Heart of Yoga."
Sarah Platt-Finger is the co-founder of ISHTA Yoga with her husband, Yogiraj Alan Finger, ranked one of the top 7 yoga studios in Manhattan by Citysearch. She is a celebrity renowned yoga teacher who also leads trainings and workshops internationally. Her signature class, “Sweat and Samadhi” has been featured in Well and Good, Yoga U Online and Origin magazine. She is a brand ambassador for Lululemon and on the Board of Directors for Exhale to Inhale, a non-profit organization that teaches yoga to survivors of domestic violence. Her daughter, Satya, inspires her every day to live a life based on love and unbound potential.
"The real question is: why wouldn’t I want to support YGB? As someone who has chosen her life’s purpose as a Yoga Teacher, and being the mother to a daughter myself, I feel passionate about empowering people - especially women - through yoga. Yoga has the ability to heal and transform others and YGB is doing just that to the women and children of India through its educational funds micro-loans. In my eyes, it is my duty to give back to the the people, the culture and the spirit of India because I would not be where or who I am without its wisdom."
Daphne is a spirited, soulful artist and teacher originally from Texas. Since her initial yoga class over 20 years ago, she has explored merging her spiritual practice with her contemporary folk singer/songwriter style. She studied music at The University of Texas at Austin, Berklee College of Music, The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, mantra music with kirtan master, Jai Uttal and sound healing with sound troubadour, Jonathan Goldman.
Her music has been featured on yoga music compilations with Shiva Rea and has released three albums, Mata (recorded on the island of Bali), Finding Water (recorded on the island of Kauai), Samahita Live (recorded on Koh Samui, Thailand).
While living on the island of Bali in 2008, Daphne was inspired by her friend and mentor, Ellen Watson and co-founded SpiritDance SoulSong (fusing together two of the oldest forms of healing on the planet… Singing and Dancing). Ellen brought decades of experience with her teaching movement meditation (from Esalen massage to the 5 Rhythms) and Daphne brought years of singing and working with students to find their true voice. Ellen and Daphne lead annual SpiritDance SoulSong trainings and retreats in Bali and beyond.
Daphne completed her initial teacher training 12 years ago in Los Angeles specializing in kids yoga. She found joy & light working with little people and began branching out and teaching students of all ages. She is inspired by her friend and teacher, Shiva Rea, with whom she has completed multiple teacher trainings. She also embraces the teachings of Erich Schiffman, Mark Whitwell, Pema Chodron and Ammachi in her daily practice.
"After years of practicing many types of yoga, I have found that the yoga of service from the heart is the most profound for me. As long as I have a clear heartfelt intention behind my actions in anything that I offer or do, I know that I am giving back to the world in a positive way. From singing to dancing to teaching around the globe, it has been an amazing journey to connect with beings from different cultures and communities heart to heart and know in every cell of my body that we are all One. May this One Love continue to be strengthened by every breath, every song, every prayer we share together. Thank you, Kayoko, for inviting me to be a part of this global kula Giving Back to the mothers, daughters, sisters and the girls in India that will make a difference on this planet! She is honored to share her soulful teachings and music to support Yoga Gives Back with grace and joy for living life fully."
Elizabeth is the Director of the Mysore program at Prana Das Yoga in Haverford, PA. She also teaches evening Mysore classes at Mysore Philadelphia (Fishtown, Philadelphia) and BYCF (Chadds Ford, PA). Elizabeth is a devout student, practitioner and teacher of Ashtanga Yoga. Her main teachers are Jörgen Christiansson and Sharath Jois.
While she was studying history and political science, applying to law school, and competing as a Division 1 tennis player, her father persuaded her to try yoga for the first time; thinking it might help her manage stress. The dynamism of the practice instantly drew her in and she quickly fell in love with the beauty of linking movement, breath, and mindfulness. Soon enough, she was practicing yoga every day; experiencing positive transformations in mind, body, and spirit.
As she delved deeper in the practice she discovered Sri K Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga Yoga, the Ashtanga Yoga School of Philadelphia, and her first teacher: David Garrigues. The integrity and structure of the Ashtanga Yoga system was a perfect and natural fit for her. Elizabeth taught at and helped run David’s School, AYS Philadelphia, from 2013-2017. Elizabeth is always a student, striving to learn more about her self, the practice, and how she can guide others through their own journey.
"I am so honored to join this group of yogis as an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back. For some time I have felt called through my yoga practice to be of service to others, and I am ready and eager to serve through this organization. I genuinely believe in the work that Yoga Gives Back does for women and their families in India. By providing micro-loans, YGB successfully seeks to liberate these women from an oppressive situation by giving them the necessary tools for self-elevation and growth. The parallels between the work YGB does and the transformative process we experience in our yoga practices is striking. YGB enables us to give expression to the powers of our practice and yogic teachings for the benefit of others."
Amanda is a dedicated student and teacher of Yoga in Traverse City, Michigan. She studied Ashtanga Vinyasa and Yoga Therapy at Abhijna School of Yoga in Varkala, Kerala, India. In 2012, she spent the year as an ESL and Yoga instructor in Seoul, South Korea. Through taking her practice abroad, she was able to experience Yoga as a universal language, bringing people to a place of shared gratitude, compassion, and community. The practice of Yoga has allowed Amanda to experience the freedom of standing in her personal power. She feels privileged to work toward providing women and children the opportunity to experience the peace and empowerment that Yoga has gifted her.
"I am honored and grateful to be an Ambassador for an organization that demonstrates how powerful the practice of Yoga truly is. Yoga Gives Back is an inspiring example of the impact compassionate people coming together and putting intentions into action can have. By working together as a global community and giving back as much as we can, we can truly make a difference and create lasting change."
Darren Marc's love for yoga, music, and the healing arts stems from a deep yearning to serve as a guide for those seeking a life filled with greater peace, happiness, joy, and purpose. As he likes to put it, “music moves the soul and yoga stills the mind. Through that stillness, we are brought back into alignment with our higher selves; the aspect of our beings that are infinite, eternal, and one with all of creation”. He teaches gentle yoga classes and leads kirtans with Laura Beth Brown. He is also a singer/songwriter and has had over 25 songs featured as background music in film and television.
"As one evolves spiritually, one's attention naturally shifts from serving one's own needs to serving the needs of others who are less fortunate. On the path of yoga, this is called karma yoga, selfless service. As I've made this shift, I've come to believe that my highest path is to be of service to all those around me in any way I can. By doing so, I also uplift myself because there is true fulfillment in helping others. Leading kirtan and teaching yoga classes is one way in which I give back and enjoy life. But the older I get, the more and more I want to give. When researching causes to donate some of our kirtan proceeds to, I came across the yoga gives back website and knew right way that this was the cause I wanted to support. Laura Beth Brown, my kirtan partner jumped on-board right away and we are excited to do what we can to help make a difference in people's lives."
Kiyomi is a dedicated and passionate practitioner and teacher of Yoga and Meditation. Helping others lead joyful lives guided by deepest heartfelt desires is her primary intention. Her teaching vibe is light-hearted, yet energizing. rich with detailed instruction, encouragement and modification. She is a certified YogaWorks Teacher, Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500 Yoga Teacher, IKYTA-certified Kundalini Yoga Teacher, a Certified Yoga Therapist (LMU) and a certified Holistic Health and Wellness Coach.
Kiyomi teaches group and private classes at yoga studios and corporate clients, leads teacher training and workshops at studios, events and festivals in Los Angeles and internationally.
"I am honored and proud to be an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back. They are dedicated to the great cause and working tirelessly to serve the women and children of India, the birthplace of Yoga. The organization’s unwavering core purpose and ever expanding vision to support the lives of those who are truly in need is purely inspiring. "
Simona teaches vibrant, soulful classes with creative sequencing. She lives yoga as a spiritual practice and is passionate about sharing it as powerful techniques that help us cultivate a deeper connection to ourselves and each other to live more fully from an open heart. After discovering her love for yoga 8 years ago, Simona has been practicing in a variety of styles – from Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Dharma Mittra, Jivamukti, Sivananda, Yin to Acro yoga. She is grateful to all her teachers who inspired her and opened her to deeper levels of the practice. On her travels she has spent several months in India, deepening her yoga practice and connecting to its ancient tradition. She trained in London with her teacher Alessandra Pecorella and is a certified Vinyasa Flow teacher with Yoga Alliance UK.
"When I first heard about Yoga Gives Back I thought it is a wonderful project and I am honored to be able to contribute to this important cause! As yogis it is so important to stay connected and honour the roots of this powerful practice. I am deeply grateful for everything India has given and taught me on my travels and I have great respect for its beautiful people and ancient tradition. If as yogis we are in a position to give back and support communities in India who need it most, it is so important to take action.Thank you Kayoko and to everyone who is bringing this project to live and bringing us together around an important cause."
Dana Blonde is the Director at Yoga Shala Calgary, an Ashtanga Yoga school in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
"Sometimes a yoga practice involves the first few years (or in my case, a decade) simply becoming a little more grounded, clear and at ease. The time I invest in myself practicing asana is mainly to better prepare me to be compassionate and useful to others. I appreciate the opportunity to assist in the support and encouragement of these women in India. Working together as a community we can truly make a difference."
Diane was born in Brussels, Belgium and spent most of her life in Switzerland. She swam competitively since the age of 9 and after graduating from College, she moved to the United States where she discovered that teaching was her real calling.
Yoga was love at first breath. She took her first class 15 years ago with her mom and has not parted with her mat since. She believes that Yoga is the ultimate finish that perfects an athlete and the ultimate accomplishment that perfects a human being. “Yoga has made me fearless, allowing me to embrace physical and emotional challenges equally.” Diane holds a 200 RYT certification and has been teaching Yoga for 8 years. She has enjoyed the relationships created with her students and the connection she has helped develop between her students and their own body and mind.
"I want to support Yoga Gives Back for many reasons... Teaching yoga is the thing I do best and I feel it is my responsibility to use it to make this world a better place. India gave birth to this philosophy that is dear to my heart. I am honored to be part of Yoga Gives Back and support other women in this world, especially in India. As a woman business owner myself, I understand the value and freedom of owning a company and would do anything to help other women reach such a level of independence. Indian women are often not given the same opportunities that women in the West are given, so I believe that with the help of organizations like Yoga Gives Back we can slowly narrow this gap and allow all women around the world reach their full potential."
Alessandra, a yogini of 26 years , has studied from an early age in many traditions such as: Bhakty, Surya , Astanga, Prana Flow, Kriya, Raja, Tantra and Ayurveda. She has been a direct student of Swami Kriyananda (Kriya Yoga disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda) from the early nineties, Patthabi Jois (the founder of Astanga Yoga) and a very dedicated student of Shiva Rea (Prana Flow Yoga) for the past 12 years. She is a Senior Yoga Teacher SYT with Yoga Alliance UK. This accreditation sets excellent standards as set by the Yoga Alliance UK. Alessandra has been teaching Yoga for the past 11 years. She runs inspiring and challenging Vinyasa Flow Yoga classes, events and Workshops where she aims at integrating the ancients techniques of yoga into our contemporary living. She is the founder of Aditya Yoga School and offers Vinyasa Flow Foundation 200hrs and Advanced 300hrs Teacher Training Programs accredited and Registered with Yoga Alliance UK. Alessandra holds a Master Degree in Electronic Engineering from The University ” La Sapienza” in Rome, Italy with a major on the Electromagnetic Field of the Human Body. She has done studies in Nutrition and has lived according to Yogic and Ayurvedic principles for nearly three decades.
"I'm grateful to be an ambassador of this incredible initiative Yoga Gives Back! The practice of Yoga is invaluable. This ancient discipline was forged by the Seers of India as a tool to help humanity in the process of conscious evolution. When we step on the Yoga path, first we begin to heal from our own inner dissonance and external conditioning. With self betterment comes the ability to live life to the fullest and then finally, from this Love for life, comes the will to give back to others. By supporting Yoga Gives Back we radiate and expand our Love for Yoga and celebrate life by empowering women and children in need. This is a wonderful opportunity. These women and kids are given a chance to step out of poverty and live joyous lives. Coming full circle Yoga Gives Back!"
David began yoga in 1989 and within a few months began learning Ashtanga Yoga with Guruji, K. Pattabhi Jois. He’s made numerous trips to Mysore, where he also began studies in Sanskrit, chanting and yoga philosophy. Today his studies continue with Vidwan Srikantha Shastri of the Veda Geetha Foundation in San Diego, CA. Blending physical with philosophical David aims to ignite a dedication to daily ongoing practice so that people can come to actualize Guruji famous quote, “Practice, practice, practice... all is coming!”
"Yoga is such a gift to humanity. Yoga gives deep everlasting nourishment satisfying the Soul's need for peace & joy. India's rich heritage has been passed down to us amongst many hardships. Without India's devoted people where would yoga be? Let everyone be grateful for these blessed people of India and offer loving support. Drop by drop the bucket fills, and one person at a time the world can become a more nurturing and harmonious place. Everyone deserves loving kindness, and the yoga given to us from India shows us the way."
Steph lives on the beautiful Channel Island of Guernsey, which is only 25 square miles, so nowhere is far from the sea! Nature is a huge inspiration for her classes and she loves to take her participants outdoors in the summer months to connect with the Earth’s energy. She has been teaching yoga for five years and also runs Pilates classes and Les Mills group exercise classes. Steph recently undertook some extra training with another YGB Ambassador and founder of My Kind of Yoga™ – Ann-See Yeoh – and shares her love for the intentional movement system which creates a simple, no-fluff and straightforward approach to yoga. Steph’s classes encourage a mindful practice, with participants being encouraged to feel the moves in their body and find the unique option that works for them, while staying true to the essence of yoga. Students are also encouraged to apply their intentions both on and off the mat, to fully embrace their yoga as a way of living, not just moving.
"Yoga Gives Back spoke to me as a charity because of the simplicity of the idea. We are so lucky to have the gift of yoga, which came from India, in our lives, and now it is time to give something back. As Western women, it is so easy to take for granted our education and our freedom to choose. By donating to this beautiful cause, we are enabling and empowering the women of India to create positive change in their lives and thereby in the lives of generations to come. Each of us, in our own small way, can all work together to make the whole world a better place!"
Kathryn Budig is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher and author known for her accessibility, humor, and ability to empower her students through her message, "aim true." She is a warrior for self-acceptance, honesty, and helping her students and readers find true balance. The Kansas native graduated from the University of Virginia with a double degree in English and Drama before moving to Los Angeles, where she trained under the tutelage of Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller. You can practice with Kathryn around the world at workshops, festivals, and conferences, or save yourself the plane ticket by practicing with her weekly online at Yogaglo.com.
"I support YGB because I think love is the goal of life. Being a yoga teacher gives me the opportunity to do what I love and give back at the same time."
Dena is a devoted practitioner of Ashtanga yoga and a senior student of the late Sri K Patabhi Jois. With 30 years of unwavering practice she holds one of the highest recognized qualification in this method. Dena and her husband Jack live in the hills of Goonengerry with their two children Zoli and Izac. They teach both internationally and from their simple shala in Byron Bay on the coast of Australia. Life is full and sweet.
"The light of yoga is my constant guide and companion. It's path has lead to an extraordinary quality of life, rich in purpose, natures beauty, freedom of choice and generosity of friendship. Resulting in an abundance of possibility and gratitude. YGB is a precious means to deliver and distribute wealth, in the form of funds, knowledge and support, back into the heart of Mother India. Facilitated in a way that offers nourishment and empowerment through opportunity, education and the promotion of self worth. How wonderful that we can all become involved. That we can give back. It feels like the work of the divine Mother."
Following the path of yoga for over seven years, Kali's teaching engages a Yang style approach to mandala style movement in which we honor and explore the cyclic nature of the universe on our mats. In balance, she offers specialized Yin Yoga to honor the lunar, more feminine qualities of the practice often neglected. Her yin teachings focus on activating each of the Five Elements in the physical and energetic body using the Chinese meridian system to encourage deep restoration and healing.
Kali runs a yoga for empowerment and healing program for The Visionaria Network, a Leadership Institute for indigenous women in the Sacred Valley. She has taught in Bali, Thailand, Peru, and at as many hot springs sanctuaries as she can possibly find along the west coast of the US. You can find her spinning circles on the mat or soaking in a spring!
She loves fast funk and slow flows, and suggests we all get upside down at least once a day!
"I believe fully in the power of yoga as an effective medium for empowerment and self-healing. My work with indigenous women in Peru, many of whom have come from background of poverty and abuse, has allowed me to witness profound transformations on the mat, and I'm eager to explore just how wide reaching the scope of a yoga practice can be."
Charli is the creator and founder of Yoga Rhythm, a fresh, unique and inspiring approach to yoga, suitable for all ages & abilities combining yoga, dance and acrobatics 'Yoga Rhythm'. She inspires you with her creativity, mastery of asanas and vibrating energy she gives out for her love of teaching. Since starting Yoga Rhythm in 2005, Charli has seen the success and recognition of her form of Yoga grow. She launched Yoga Rhythm nationally at the Yoga Show at Kensington Olympia in November 2007, and was met with wide critical acclaim from the community. Featured in magazines such as Weight Watchers, The Yoga Magazine, Om Magazine, Image, Red and many more. She aims to use yoga to build peoples inner confidence and self belief, inspiring them to live a positive life. In her free time, Charli enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Charli is always keen for a challenge; she is an avid snowboarder, loves adventure! Whether it’s kayaking, river rafting, canyoning, mountain biking, wake boarding - She’s there ready! Charli also enjoys food, travelling, and getting creative.
Charli is passionate about helping children....her current projects in development 'The Mindfulness Project' within schools and her Childrens Books Series co-created with her daughter Nirvana are all with the intention to help encourage children to gain self belief and courage, to truly be who they are born to be, happy and free to just be :)
"Yoga Gives Back is a beautiful charity with a pure intention to help vulnerable mothers looking after their young in India...i truly work always from my heart centre, the place of love compassion and understanding, especially to those who are in need of support, kindness and selfless love. This is the least i can do to help mother earth raise the children of this land to bring a moment of peace, support, faith and hope to those who are vulnerable. "
Sharda teaches yoga privately in London where she also guides individuals into an ahimsa lifestyle through veganism and self/ social awareness.
"Some years ago I shared Yoga with women who have been victim of human and/or sex trafficking. Since then I am committed to find ways to help make a difference in the lives of women and children who have been traumatized. I am so thankful for YGB through which I get the opportunity to be part of a positive change in the lives of women and children and what better way to do this than through the gift of Yoga. I look forward connecting with many other ambassadors and YGB team members to join forces and be part of this inspiring fast growing movement to give back to the country where Yoga originates from. Namaste."
Marysia began practicing yoga when she was 16 years old. Yoga is her continual source of strength and peace. Marysia teaches empowerment by believing in her students and their ability to achieve their goals. She is also a handstand enthusiast! In addition to teaching yoga Marysia is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. She grew up in New York and then relocated to Los Angeles where she attended USC and YoSan University for college and graduate school. In 2013 she moved to Singapore with her amazing husband and teaches yoga at Pure Yoga.
"As an individual who lives with a certain amount of abundance I believe it is my responsibility to give back to the community. I choose to give my time and energy to Yoga Gives Back because by supporting micro credit programs the organization grants women and children in India the opportunity to not only have a good life, but also to contribute to their local community."
Catia's yoga journey to self enquiry began back in 2003, and ever since Its been a healing experience, a life transformation which deeply changed her views on life. Her quest led her to try many styles of yoga. Power yoga ( vinyasa) Ashtanga, Jivamukti. She drew inspiration from David Swenson, Matt Corigliano, Kino, Mathew Sweeney, Anne Marie Newland, and Stewart Gilchrist who still remains her main teacher and inspiration today. She continues to work alongside him, assisting/mentoring during teacher trainings.
"India is very special in many ways to me and to many other yogis. To be able to give something back through “Yoga gives Back” is a wonderful way for me to share my gratitude for all the wisdom, knowledge, bliss and so much more it has given me and continues to share with the world. I am honoured to be supporting YGB and to contribute to the future of women and children in India. For they too deserve to have something back. Something wonderful in their life, a better future, a future with hope."
Stan Woodman is a Level 2 Authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher for the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI), in Mysore, India and the co-owner of Kaia Yoga (www.kaiayoga.com), the largest integrative wellness center in Connecticut. Having first met Sri K Pattabhi Jois in NYC 2001, Stan eventually went to the source in Mysore India in 2003 to study with Guruji. Since then, he has made several trips to the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute, studying with its founder until his death in 2009 and eventually with Jois’ heir and grandson, Sharath Jois. Today, Stan continues his yearly pilgrimage to Mysore to study at the KPJAYI with Sharath. He also heads the Ashtanga Mysore program at Kaia Yoga in Greenwich, CT. He is often found offering workshops at Wanderlust, Kripalu, Omega Institute and International Retreats. Stan has been featured in numerous magazines including Fitness, More, Organic Spa and Mantra Yoga & Health Magazine.
An avid extreme sports enthusiast, Stan loves a good challenge, especially when snowboarding or skateboarding. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Gina, and their two children.
"I am so honored to have the opportunity to join Yoga Gives Back as an Ambassador supporting all the amazing work they are doing to help our 'brothers' and 'sisters' who need our help in India!"
Pranidhi Varshney is a devoted ashtanga yoga practitioner and teacher, and the founder of Yoga Shala West, a community-supported ashtanga yoga studio in West Los Angeles. She teaches to share the deep love she has for ashtanga yoga and for all students who follow this path. She aims to cultivate, for herself and for her students, a sense of balance on and off the mat- simultaneous strength and surrender. Her goal is to inspire her students to build a regular practice, for committing to practice is the surest way she’s found to live an authentic, compassionate life.
She also has a deep passion for the arts, and has released an album of Sanskrit chanting. Pranidhi is active in the global yoga community, working as a Yoga Gives Back ambassador and sitting on the advisory board of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. Through all her work, she aims to inspire, provoke, build community, and ultimately touch the heart.
"Yoga has given me a profound connection to my roots and a method for living well. This gift carries with it a responsibility to be of service to the world. YGB has given the yoga community a way to do that, and to share the fruits of our work. The organization is opening the eyes of yoga practitioners around the world and inspiring us to contribute energy and resources to help those in need. India is the birthplace of many of our practices, and by helping to uplift its people, we honor yoga's roots. I look forward to supporting YGB and expanding the reach of our community. "
Nea is a KPJAYI level II authorised teacher of Ashtanga Yoga. She has been making annual trips to Mysore to study at the Ashtanga Yoga Institute since 2006 and received the blessing to teach in 2010. Originally from Sydney, Nea has shared her love of Ashtanga Yoga with students in Australia, China, Japan, Russia, Singapore, Turkey and now Dubai, where she runs Ashtanga Yoga Dubai, the only KPJAYI authorised yoga school in the UAE. She continues to study with Sharath Jois in Mysore every year, where she is learning the Advanced A series.
""After my first few trips to India I realised that I wanted to give back to the country that had given me so much. I have worked with different charitable organisations over the past few years and have seen how important it is to support the right type of organisation that can actually make a difference. I firmly believe that empowering women to create a better future for themselves and their families is one of the most valuable contributions we can make. As a teacher and student of yoga, I feel it is part of my dharma to give back and I am delighted that Yoga Gives Back is providing me with this opportunity.""
Emery is a certified yoga instructor who has been registered with the National Yoga Alliance since 2008. She has been teaching yoga in southwest Missouri since 2007 following the completion of yoga teacher training in the VariYoga style at the Arkansas Yoga Center in Fayetteville, AR. In 2009 she continued her education with a teacher training in Ashtanga yoga at Maya Yoga in Kansas City, MO. Her most recent training in Power Yoga for Sports gave her the tools to apply her knowledge of yoga to develop sport specific yoga sequences helping athletes move more efficiently and avoid injury. Her diverse training background allows her to adapt the practice of yoga to all levels from beginner to advanced practitioner. Each class with Emery is a well rounded experience for the mind and soul.
"I want to support YGB to show my gratitude for the many lessons yoga has taught me that have made my life better in every way. I want to pay it forward by helping to make someone else's life a little better as well."
"Yoga helps me to tap into my inner strengths and explore and learn from my shadow site but most of all, accept both of them. Being a YGB member gives me the opportunity to share all the goodness we have with the Indian women and children who deserve more love and light in their lives but also the very important basics as a safe environment and education so they can bloom and flower. As a yoga teacher and social worker, I'm planning to organize special yoga classes by donation and bring more awareness under the yogi and yoginis in the Netherlands about the importance of YGB and support my godchild Evi in her new role as YGB youth member. Sharing is caring. 'If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room' Daila Lama."
Allison Gaughan, Founder of Corporate Prana, is a sociology graduate from UCSD and has advanced degrees in yoga and meditation. She is passionate about supporting companies create healthier work environments and become conscious industry leaders. Personal and professional transformation is a core value which she believes is necessary if the company wants to achieve the growth, sustainability, and profitability they desire.
"It is an honor to collaborate with Yoga Gives Back (YGB)! As a mother of three, a yoga and meditation instructor, and entrepreneur this charity resonates with me on many levels. Through the above, I have the privilege of connecting with my local community, however YGB allows me to connect with mothers and children outside my community. Wanting more for our children, ourselves, and our world is possible for these women and children in India, and YGB is the HOW! It is my belief that the power of personal and professional transformation can be witnessed and felt from a distance, so please consider supporting this wonderful charity. "
Seane Corn is an internationally recognized yoga teacher known for her impassioned activism, unique self-expression, and inspirational style of teaching. As one of the world’s leading yoga experts, Seane has been featured in countless magazine articles and news programs including The Today Show, Oprah’s Sacred Spaces, NPR, and on the cover of over 27 magazines internationally. A strong and articulate voice for personal transformation and social change, she has utilized her platform to inspire and mobilize the yoga community in activating grassroots projects worldwide. Since 2007, she spear-headed the organization Off the Mat, Into the World® (OTM),with Hala Khouri and Suzanne Sterling, training leaders and raising awareness about global humanitarian issues such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic and sex trafficking. Since its start, OTM hasraised over $4.5 million through their Global Seva Challenge, which providesfunds for our many partners committed to serving communities in need. In 2005, Seane was honored with the “Conscious Humanitarian” award for her efforts in raising funds and awareness around the HIV/AIDS crisis. In 2013 she was honored with “Global Green Millennium Award” for her international outreach efforts and as an acknowledgment to OTM’s commitment in creating environmentally sustainable service projects worldwide. In 2013 the Smithsonian Institute also honored her for her ongoing commitment to yoga and activism. Seane has been seen in many documentaries on spiritualty and yoga including Yoga Is, Y Yoga, Titans of Yoga, Femme, The Invocation and Yoga Woman and has contributed to the books The Poetry of Yoga and Yoga and Body Image. Seane has many self-authored yoga DVD’s available through Gaiam, Yoga Journal and Sounds True, and is deep in the process of writing her first book.
"I am so proud to be an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back- an organization that supports the women and children of India. I honor their vision and hard work and know that so many benefit from their dedication to serve a culture and its people who have done so much to enhance the lives and beliefs of yogis like me."
Guru Jagat is founder of RA MA Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology, a premier yoga school located in Venice, California offering classes, workshops and group cleanses. She has launched RA MA TV, as well as the indie yoga music label RA MA Records with a mission to trailblaze a new genre of music for mass consumption-in and out of the yogaspace, on the dance floor, radio and beyond. Deemed the modern face of Kundalini Yoga, Guru Jagat brings a fresh perspective to this ancient practice. Guru Jagat studied under Yogi Bhajan, the Kundalini Master responsible for bringing the practice to the US. Her profound classes that teach Kundalini as a technology that can be used as a tool to achieve and sustain long-lasting happiness have earned her devout fans amongst Hollywood and LA tastemakers alike.
" Yoga Gives Back is exactly at the center of how we create Enlightened Society, one happy, fulfilled person at a time. Thank you for the tireless work to create a more widened perspective on why a yogi comes to their practice--for the world, for their community, and for the future generations. The yoga and meditation practice then become about enriching everything, and the bourgeois new age bubble gets popped for a much more vital experience of yogic majesty. "
Jessica began her yoga journey in 2001 and has explored several different styles over the years. It was in 2011 when she travelled to India to complete her 200 hour RYT Yoga Teacher Training that she had the opportunity to see first hand the beauty and struggles in the country. Meeting Kayoko and learning of YGB at the 2014 Asia Yoga Conference, she immediately felt a connection and desire to contribute, knowing that funds would directly help the women and children of India. After setting up Orange Oranges, a Brisbane based online store focused on yoga, vegan, and ethically made products, she saw the perfect partnership. Orange Oranges is now committed to donating a portion of its sales to YGB.
"Yoga has given so much joy to people around the world that it only makes sense to give back to the people and country where it originated. To know that you can change a life for the cost of one yoga class, the ability to help some of the world's poorest people is very tangible and achievable. I am honoured and proud to be a part of such a wonderful organisation."
Shannon has been practicing yoga for 18 years and teaching for 7 years. She is a certified Vinyasa and Ashtanga Yoga Teacher who resides in Chicago and teaches at YOGA NOW CHICAGO. Shannon has studied with many different teachers and her style is her own unique combination of challenging poses, creative sequences and heartfelt messages/inspiration that she loves to share with her students. Her goal is to simply help share this beautiful gift of yoga and it's amazing ability to bring all beings and things more into "union". She challenges herself and her students to take the beautiful lessons learned in body, heart and spirit off the mat and into the world where the gifts of yoga can be shared most fully.
"When I heard about YGB from my good friend Kathleen Kastner (Kansas City Ambassador) who just got back from an amazing YGB trip to India, I knew instantly I had to be involved. I love what YGB is doing to help support, lift and love our sisters and children in India. The idea of this beautiful practice of yoga giving back to our Mother India who gave us this practice calls to me loudly. I truly believe that our real work as yogis is the work we do off the mat and I am thrilled for an opportunity to contribute to fundraising efforts and bring awareness, change and hopefully more peace to the women and children of India that YGB supports. OM SHANTI!"
Drez blends yesterday’s roots with the innovative urban beats of today. His accomplishments during his gradual evolution from Hip Hop DJ to World Music Taste Maker have made him one of the top DJs and producers in LA’s eclectic music scene. When he isn’t in the studio producing, spinning at an underground Hip Hop club or jamming with local artists in impromptu late night sessions, you might find him on his yoga mat. Drez’s unique talents are highly in demand at yoga classes and retreats, as well as, nightclubs and music festivals from Europe to Asia. His trailblazing, genre-bending body of work has been documented in magazines ranging from The Source to Yoga Journal.
"India has inspired me spiritually and musically for many years. I must acknowledge the origin of the practice of yoga. I would not be where I am today without it. I am grateful for the chance to help these women and children live sustainable lives and thrive. Giving back. OM."
The daughter of a jazz pianist, Marti Nikko spent her childhood in nightclubs, absorbing the art and wisdom of many great musicians. Enthralled by what she heard, she began to sing and perform her own music, infusing her innate grasp of jazz and soul into a warm, natural voice. Marti met DJ Drez shortly after high school, when they began performing and recording together. Over nearly two decades, their collaboration has become an intimate musical language that effortlessly translates into and between many styles of music, including hip hop, reggae, kirtan, jazz and soul. Listen to any of DJ Drez’s albums and you'll hear Marti Nikko’s unmistakably rich and nuanced voice. Her first full-length album — due out in early 2015 on Black Swan Sounds — combines her instinctive musicality with deeply devoted mantra practice. In addition to Marti's talents as a singer, songwriter and performer, she teaches yoga and pilates in Los Angeles where she and Drez live and love their 10-year-old son.
"It is an honor to be an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back. I am grateful to be able to contribute in the ways that I can to support and give back to a country that has offered so much in the sharing of yoga. This practice has inspired and supported me daily and deeply. I am excited to spread the word through my voice, music, and yoga to help as much as I can. Lets come together to empower, inspire and help improve the opportunities and resources for these beautiful women and children of India. With love. Hari Om."
Stephanie began practicing yoga in 2001 in Houston, TX. Once she found Ashtanga Yoga, she quickly started adapting the practice as a lifestyle and wanted to know everything. In 2007, she moved to Los Angeles primarily to be a part of a thriving Ashtanga community.
In January of 2014, Stephanie founded Spring St. Shala an Ashtanga Yoga collective in Houston and feels truly blessed to have had the opportunity to practice with so many amazing teachers and students of this practice. Her goal is to share this beautiful practice and to grow the Ashtanga Yoga community in Houston.
"YGB, immediately resinated with me, growing up with a working single mother that faced many obstacles and worked very hard to provide for my sister and I. I am honored to be part of a foundation that empowers women and gives them accesability to micro credit programs, vocational training and educational assistances to make changes in their lives. Yoga has made such an impact on my life and also seeing the benefits in my students lives is a true gift. I am greatful to be a part of YGB and express my grattitude to Mother India for giving us this beautiful practice."
Senior yoga teacher, with over 15 years of experience in the study/practice of yoga who Teaches workshops both in Israel and abroad. Founder of "Ashtanga Yoga Tel Aviv" studio (since 2004) and coordinator of Yoga Teacher Training courses. Maya studied in Mysore with the late master Pattabhi Jois and continue her training with Sharath Jois.
Maya is a certified "body wisdom" therapist, body wisdom is an integrative treatment method based on osteopathy.
Maya delves into the Buddhist traditions, guides meditations and workshops. In recent years, Maya applied her knowledge and experience into therapeutic work with cancer patients at "Ichilov Hospital" and in her private clinic.
"I'm eternally grateful for the gift of yoga and it's heritage. With every visit to India I'm constantly reminded of the contrast between our privilege life in the west and the deep poverty in rural India. I strongly believe in the effects of positive karma and paying our good fortune forward, we should all be a part of the giving circle even in a small scale which can balloon like a "butterfly effect". It is my honor to be a part of this wonderful Yoga Gives Back project to support mothers and children in India. NAMASTE"
Brittny entered her first child’s pose at the age of 11 under the influence of her older sister Karyn, has been a committed student of yoga since 2001, and has been teaching yoga since 2007.
A student first and always, Brittny has studied and practiced yoga with many wonderful teachers. She found a commitment to a life practice through her teacher, Anand, who is the founder and creator of the style of Sattva Yoga. Brittny is certified at the 500-RYT level in Sattva Yoga, which she received while studying with Anand in Rishikesh, India.
Sattva Yoga LA- where Brittny primarily teaches- is founded and guided by a deep love and appreciation for the practice of yoga and meditation. One of the main pillars of the studio is Seva-- the practice of moving in service. SYLA is proud to call Yoga Gives Back a partner in Seva.
In addition to teaching at and owning Sattva Yoga L.A., Brittny works at UCLA in federal affairs where she helps to communicate and demonstrate the value of federal investments in public higher education. www.SattvaYogaLA.com
"I support Yoga Gives Back because I have a deep love for this amazing practice that originated in India, and a deep love for India- where I have journeyed several times and each time was deeply touched by how we are all connected-- across boundaries and borders, time and space. And, I deeply respect that the mission of YGB includes the an element of self motivation that demands a respect for the dignity of human spirit and will. "
Anouk Prop is a yoga teacher and psychologist in Maastricht, the Netherlands. As a dedicated ambassador of Yoga Gives Back the Netherlands & Belgium, she wants to mobilise the global yoga community by setting an example to take action instead of just donating.
"Being part of team Yoga Gives Back the Netherlands & Belgium, we already organized manyevents in the last years to raise funding and awareness for the women and children in India, the country where yoga has its origins. Now the time has come for some real action at the source. In India, for children, since they are the essence of existence. That’s my deepest motivation to volunteer at one of the sister aid projects of YGB, orphanage Deenabandhu Trust from October, 2014. My goal is to help as many orphans by supporting them directly in practice (psychotherapy and yoga) and by raising funds for them to grow and develop to their full capacity. To reinforce this, I’m going to climb the Kilimanjaro mountain in 2015, dedicated to the orphans in Deenabandhu. With this extraordinairy endeavour Expedition KILI (www.expedition-kili.nl) I would like to inspire other people to take action as well. For me, planting a seed on the top of the world for love and acceptance is a dream that comes true."
Founder & Director of Spirit Yoga Studio/ Spirit International Yoga School in Osaka,Japan since 2007.
Haidar was born in Bagdad, Iraq, as the youngest member of a family of nine. His mother tongue is Arabic, but also speaks English, Japanese and Thai. At the age of 13, Haidar started Taekwondo to increase strength in body and mind, and built self confidence. At the age of 16, he started yoga for better understanding of himself. Haidar believes that Yoga is a philosophy that teaches us how to live our lives & discover ourselves to be close to perfection but no one is perfect.
"''Find Happiness Through Sharing Happiness''---During my first yoga trip to Rishikish, India in 2004, I saw this inspirational words in the gate of a temple wihch really touched my heart at that moment. India is a home of yoga and we can't forget to give back as much as we can to make some positive changes for people there. I believe I am here in this life to give back to anyone who need our help and supporting them is one of my responsibility as a yogi. Never Give Up My Friends."
Shari Goldstein (RYT 500 & E-RYT 200) owns Enlighten Yoga, a yoga studio in Charlotte, NC. Shari very much enjoys teaching yoga to others and in both her classes and her RYT 200 teacher training program thinks that it is important to emphasize the importance of a yoga community.
""One of the most important tenets of our practice is to honor and preserve the tradition of yoga. One way that I can honor this tradition is by giving back to the community in India where so many women and children face real daily challenges. I believe in the importance of raising both awareness and money for our sisters in India. Through the facilitation of YogaGivesBack, I have an opportunity to help improve the lives of my fellow women in India with the hope that they and their children will be able to live with less suffering. On a basic yet vital level, I believe it is important to empower these women with skills and loans so that they may be more stable and secure and better able to follow their dharmic path, whatever that may be." "
Jivamukti and Yin Yoga – An Advanced Certified Jivamukti Yoga teacher and E-RYT 500, Giselle’s introduction to yoga in the early 90’s was a natural progression from her gymnastics/dance background, her passion for music and being raised by a bohemian flamenco dancer; all of which have influenced her style and approach to teaching and life. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Giselle presents at yoga studios, conferences and festivals around the world. She’s also been on the cover of Yoga Journal and Yoga International Magazine as well as appearing in many of their articles. She’s also featured in Kathryn Budig’s book “Women’s Health: The Big Book of Yoga”. She’s an ambassador for Gaiam, a columnist for Origin Magazine, serves on the advisory committee for The Art of Yoga Project and is a teacher on YogaGlo. When not teaching, she loves being with her amazing husband, daughter, and four dogs all of who are her biggest inspirations and support.
"It is such an honor to be an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back. I’m grateful to have this opportunity to be in service, to uplift the lives of women and children and to do so through the art form of yoga. Yoga Gives Back is the embodiment of what it means to practice yoga in action. Through our collective actions and intentions we can support the dreams and aspirations of women and children in India while also creating an equal rights imperative. Through micro credit programs, vocational training and educational assistance we create necessary social change as well as a ripple effect of inspired and empowered action for generations to come."
Wilmien is the Owner and creator of One Flow, a personalised system that combines Eastern Practices like yoga, Qi Gong and meditation with Nutrition and lifestyle for true health and wellbeing. She still continues her studies and practice in Qi Gong and yoga today whilst actively teaching at various studios as well as working for The Life Centre and Yogacampus as their expert marketing and communications consultant. She has her own blog and some of her articles have been published in Runners World Magazine. She has previously reached out in the community working with On the Right track. On the Right Track was a two year project (April 2011 — March 2013) funded by Comic Relief. It provided a range of activities to improve young people’s access to counselling and several well-being services, such as yoga and other movement activities. www.oneflow.guru
"I am delighted to be an Ambassador for Yoga Gives back and to share both my events experience and teaching skills as a means to raise awareness and income for women and children in India, to give them the opportunity to be creative and have a better quality of life. Yoga Gives Back creates opportunities to women and children for better livelihoods and education. By taking part in any fundraising activity you can make a real difference in these people’s life’s and for me that is a way of thanking and honouring Mother India who brought us the incredible healing art of yoga. Yoga means union, and in this consciousness of oneness we can reach out to others. I am grateful for the chance to represent Yoga Gives Back."
Lauren Peterson (E-RYT 500), is a well-respected yoga instructor who travels worldwide teaching workshops andteacher trainings. She has been practicing yoga for over 25 years, and teaching since 1992. She had the privilege to study with, and assist, Chuck Miller for over 10 years. Chuck taught her through fourth series in the ashtanga yoga system. She has also played with the first few poses of fifth series as shown to her by Richard Freeman.
Lauren has been featured in the television series Healing Quest, and in Yoga Journal Magazine, for the yoga program she started at the Monte Nido Eating Disorders Center for women struggling with eating disorders.
She teaches classes at Malibu Fitness and at her studio, The Yoga Salon, in Los Angeles.
"There are a lot of requests out there, for our support. I have, and do, support organizations that help animals, the environment, human rights. We can get overwhelmed, and want to zip our pockets. I decided to help YGB, because it started with one person wanting to help a few people. It has grown organically by many people donating. You can readily see how your donations are helping people. I feel confident my money and the money of my friends, will go to the people who need it, and will not be mishandled. "
Laura Bujalance is the founder/owner of Surya Retreats. It was born out of Laura’s sudden need to show all her fellow yogis what her beautiful country, Spain, has to offer: local culture, tasty food and astounding natural beauty, as well as getting yogis inspired and help them share their practice amongst each other.A yoga practitioner herself, Laura has worked internationally over the last 10 years in the tourism industry, specializing in destination marketing for her home country. Surya Retreats helps yoga teachers around the world create their retreats in Spain and hosts all kinds of retreats for yogis worldwide.
"Yoga has changed me in very many ways –it has been my door to transformation both spiritually and physically, so having the opportunity to give back to India, which has given the rest of the world so much, is just a great blessing for me"
As a Jivamukti certified teacher and Kirtan singer, Kirin is deeply inspired by her gurus Sharonji and Davidji, to quote them: "The best way to uplift ourselves is to do all we can to uplift others" Kirin has been teaching group classes in Shenzhen, private/corporate classes in HK, and leading workshops in different provinces in China. In 2014, Kirin was invited to give workshops and chanting in Yonion Yoga & Arts Festival in Xiamen and Yoga Summit in Dali, China. Kirin believes that yoga and music are LOVE which is the healing method in this chaotic world. It is a way to get balance, to realize ones true self and make a joyful world through unity.
"I met Kayoko-san at the AYC in 2014 and learned of her contribution and effort through the video she made: a true story of helping a teenager become a dentist. I sincerely appreciated the method and concept of YGB. I am so honored to be an ambassador and devote my effort to holding community classes in China and HK to advocate the concept of "HELPING OTHERS IS THE BASIS OF HAPPINESS" This is my mission in life and thank you for giving me a chance to serve others! Namaste!"
Denise DuBarry Hay – is a leading entrepreneur and successful actress who has amassed several impressive credits in film and television. Today, DuBarry Hay uniquely and seamlessly executes her creative talent and outstanding business acumen as President of Palm Springs Women in Film and Television, while running her newly formed entertainment/media company, Kaswit, Inc. which develops and funds infomercials and feature films.
DuBarry Hay’s entrepreneurial streak also extends to the booming yoga industry. Not only is she a certified Bikram yoga instructor and practitioner, prior to relocating to La Quinta in 1990, she founded Malibu Yoga in beachside Malibu, California
"I want to support "Yoga Gives Back" because it unites two things I'm passionate about; yoga which helps everyone be physically and mentally healthier, and helping young girls find their full potential. It gives me great pleasure to help make a positive difference in the lives of others. I know that the ripple effect of helping each other, in turn helps the person who started the ripple as we are all connected. If each person could create a small ripple, the world would be overwhelmed by a tsunami of kindness and love."
Founder and director of Yoga Seeds, a yoga events, retreats and training company based in Singapore, Wendy hosts regular yoga retreats in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. When she’s not travelling, she’s back home in Singapore, teaching in various settings, including corporate yoga classes, yoga for children, private yoga sessions, regular studio sessions and also community classes for the underprivileged. In fact, she teaches anywhere that she can unroll her mat! Wendy’s background and interestin eastern and western philosophy led her to explore and study the workings of the mind, body and subtle energies of the universe through meditation and yoga. Her style of yoga is a unique blend of Hatha, Vinyasa and Yin Yoga, with emphasis on the breath in both movement and stillness.
"Yoga has given me so much in my life, and it’s only natural for me to want to be part of an initiative that gives back, especially to India, the birthplace of Yoga. Yoga Gives Back helps our sisters in India through education and opportunities for financial independence, which I believe will have a huge impact in the future of women in India. I’m very blessed and privileged to be an ambassador for YGB and I’m proud to be part of the efforts to support this cause."
Born in Hokkaido, Japan, Anri has been a Managing Teacher for Pure Yoga Hong Kong since 2009 and also for Pure Apparel as their brand ambassador and community coordinator as of 2014.
Anri believes in giving back to the community that nurtures her growth. Which is why she is deeply grateful to be given this opportunity to become ambassador for Yoga Gives Back and hope to share her energy together in Japan and in Hong Kong.
"Our lives are like beautiful bowls made of small particles called ‘miracles’ and each of us have a choice to decide what goes inside it. As a yoga teacher I wish to support every individual to discover their own beauty within themselves."
Aparna Khanolkar is a Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselor. She teaches workshops and works privately with clients in retreats and intensives. The focus of her work is on wellness as a way of life and that one's lifestyle directly contributes to longevity. She is an advocate of practical Ayurveda for the Westerner. A former chef of the Chopra Center, she is a an author, speaker and creator of several programs for women.
"Yoga Gives Back is a cause that is dear to me as an Indian woman. To empower a woman with skills and loans to encourage sustainable financial independence is exciting for me as a single mother. To know that women in India can receive this level of support gives me a sense of satisfaction. "
In an age where so-called connectivity has left many of us feeling lonelier and more disconnect than ever before, Sachi believes that yoga and mindfulness practices are essential for uniting us with our deeper selves and connecting with those around us. Her hatha flow classes approach mindfulness in a user-friendly way that is easy to incorporate into life off the mat. She specifically selects yoga postures with the modern, city-dweller in mind reminding her students that they don't have to be a luddite or a naturalist to enjoy the full benefits of this practice. Through yoga, Sachi wants to help her students enjoy life in the moment, and collectively, redefine what it means to be "connected" in the digital age.
"Being not only a yogi but also an Indian woman, it is very meaningful to be a part of an organization that empowers women in India with small loans to start businesses, while simultaneously connecting practitioners in the West to yoga's birthplace. In this endeavor, Yoga Gives Back embodies yoga's truly transformative nature - one that transcends the self and resides in the selfless, loving service of others. I am so grateful and honored to represent this incredible cause!"
Swati Pandey is a keen student of yoga and passionate about sharing yoga with others. She has completed 400 Hrs Teacher Training in Andiappan Yoga tradition from AnahataYoga, Hong Kong and continues to pursue further Teacher Training and workshops with Manoj Kaimal, founder Manasa Yoga, Kualalumpur. She is deeply influenced by Yogi Shri Dharma Mittra and John Scott. Swati teaches yoga from her homestudio and Samkkya Yoga in Kualalumpur She lives with her husband and ten year old twins.
"YGB aligns to my personal philosophy of giving back to the community and to the place where I belong. What better way than Yoga to be able to do so?! - A practice that has nurtured me so much. This gratitude initiative I feel is very worthy of support."
After thirty years of running, cycling, and competitive sports, Pete was astonished to learn that his biggest challenge and adventure would happen on a yoga mat. Pete spent several years and over 600 hours training with world renowned yoga instructor Ana Forrest. It is through this experience that he learned how to compassionately guide students of all levels through a vigorous yoga practice with integrated breath work and awareness.
Known for his joyful energy, compassionate guidance, and sense of humor, Pete creates a spiritual yet light-hearted environment for his students to uncover the deeper benefits of yoga. He is ERYT-500 registered and graduated from the Forrest Yoga Teacher Training program in 2006, he is on staff as one of Yoga Tree's teacher trainers. He also teaches yoga at Yoga Festivals and Conferences including the Yoga Journal Conference, Asia Yoga Conference, Wanderlust, Tadasana Festival, and Bhaktifest.
"My mission in life is to help heal the world through yoga. Part of that healing involves expressing gratitude for the blessings of love, strength and confidence yoga has provided me. As such, I feel deeply grateful to Yoga Gives Back for allowing me to support their effort to educate and empower women and children in the country that gave birth to yoga. I cannot imagine a more worthy organization to support. When we help impoverished women and children realize their full potential by improving the opportunities and resources available to them, we change the world. “If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.” - the Buddha"
Mariko is a Yoga-Ayurveda Expert with over 20 years of teaching experience. A former professional dancer as well as an Ayurvedic physician trained in India, she combines scientific knowledge with an intuitive understanding of the body. Mariko has been travelling to India every year since 1999 to study Yoga, Ayurveda and allied disciplines with renowned masters in their field. In 2003, the experience of working with numerous terminally ill patients caused her to apply for and win a full scholarship to study Ayurveda, the ancient Indian healing science in one of the top Ayurvedic universities in India. Proficient in Hindi and Sanskrit, she is one of the very few in the West to have completed the rigorous 5 ½ year B.A.M.S. (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery) degree program at an internationally recognized Ayurvedic university in India. When she is not conducting retreats and workshops around the world, Mariko teaches her signature fluid Yoga classes at Equinox Fitness and Peninsula Spa, and runs a private Ayurvedic practice in New York City.
"I support Yoga Gives Back wholeheartedly because I have first-hand experience witnessing how hard the mothers in the lower class of Indian society work to support their families. All in all, I have spent about 10 years living in various parts of India, and although I have had the privilege of being around great Yogis and Masters, scholars and wise beings, I truly feel the greatest lesson I received in India is from watching the sincere, cheerful, hard work that these people offer, day in and day out. By connecting Yoga practitioners in the West with these deserving women of India, Yoga Gives Back creates awareness of the greater purpose of Yoga, of Yoga with a capital “Y”, Yoga that is generous and healing, compassionate and truly transformative – the Yoga that is the original gift of the enlightened rishis (sages) of India. I firmly believe that spirituality must be grounded in the practicalities of the world today. Yoga Gives Back allows us to participate in the sacred activism that is grounded in Dharma. It transforms our practice into deep, universal prayer as we create positive socio-economic impact. What an empowering feeling for everyone involved!"
Tanja is a London-based teacher who has been teaching since 2005. Since beginning her yoga journey in 2000 she has explored many different styles of yoga, all of which inform her practice and teaching - the discipline and rigor of Ashtanga, the creativity and freedom of Vinyasa Flow, the grace and alignment of Anusara, her deepest inspiration being the energetics and philosophy of ParaYoga founded by Rod Stryker. Tanja is known for her varied and creative sequencing, challenging yet centering practice whilst creating a nurturing atmosphere. Tanja continues to be inspired and amazed by the truly transformative power of yoga and she feels it is a privilege to share the joy and the depth of the practice with her students.
"I immediately resonated with Yoga Gives Back's ethos as it truly shows karma yoga in action. When I look at the kind of aid the YGB campaigns support, I see how not only "the price of one yoga class can change a life" but potentially generations. Being able to support women to start a business or gain vocational skills to help them move out of poverty, cultivate entrepreneurship and gain independence will have a profound effect on their whole families now and in the future. So what to us might seem like a drop in the ocean will create a lasting rippling effect. This is such an inspiring way to create sustained change. Supporting YGB also gives me the opportunity to give something back to the motherland of my practice, the practice for which I am so profoundly grateful. Yoga shows me how to find freedom and choice in my own life, so I am honored to be working with YGB to provide the women we support in India with freedom and choices which aren't naturally available to them."
Born and raised in Calcutta, India, Yoga was always an integral part of Puja’s family and culture. From memories of her mother praying, chanting and practicing Pranayama, the many aspects of Yoga have had a profound effect on Puja’s life. In 2000 Puja met Moksha and was introduced to the Ashtanga system, which she embraced immediately. She completed her teachers training with Moksha, has travelled to Mysore to study with Sharath and returns regularly with her family to Goa, India, to practice under the instruction and guidance of Rolf and Marci Naujokat. Taking the opportunity to do workshops with some of the most amazing Yogis; David Swenson, Paddy McGrath, Simon Borg Olivier, Tiffany Cruikshank and Mark Robberds, has been some of the most rewarding experiences on this path. Although regular practice has often been challenged by her role as a mother to three beautiful boys, Puja always returns to her mat with love, passion and humility. Puja’s teaching style is strongly influenced by her compassion for integrating the challenges and rewards of life off the yoga mat, such as being a busy mum, onto the yoga mat. Puja is thankful to all the teachers and students past and present she has met along the way and continues to meet. Puja is a certified kids yoga teacher and is passionate about healing the body naturally with homeopathy and nutrition. Like the practice of yoga, she feels beautiful food allows the body to be respected, treated and loved, for the temple that it is.
"Yoga for me embodies the image of a Lotus…the exquisite unfolding and continual revealing of each petal… I love every bit and feel infinitely blessed..... And I’m not even close to the core! Yoga is a journey and a destination."
Born in India, Moksha was drawn to the practice of Yoga in his later teen years. His first yoga classes were in Raja yoga and focused primarily on Meditation. Yoga in India is most commonly taught as a spiritual/ meditative practice. Back in Australia in 1997, whilst undertaking teacher training at the Gold Coast Yoga Centre, Moksha met his first Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Mark Togni and fell in love with the Ashtanga Practice. In 1999 he began to practice with Dena Kingsburg, subsequently Moksha moved back to India, following his passion for Ashtanga to practice in Mysore with Guruji, Sri K Pattabhi Jois. Moksha has been teaching Yoga for 14 years . In 2004 he completed a recognized IYTA (International Yoga Teachers Association ) Yoga certification with Linda Healey , and went on to find Yoga Om in North Perth. Moksha is an experienced registered yoga teacher (ERYT 500 hours) with Yoga Alliance and is qualified to conduct teacher's training certification registered since 09/04/2008.Completing his certificate in 2008 Moksha is a practicing Reiki Master. Blessed by his Guru and Spiritual Master Swami Alokananda , Moksha was initiated into Naam and Mantra Diksha . He is fortunate to receive Swamiji's personal guidance in the practices of Pranayama, Mantra, Kriya and Bhakti yoga. Committed to the Ashtanga system Moksha has continued his practice under the tutelage of Certified Senior Ashtanga teacher Rolf Naujkout in Goa, India. Moksha is known for his sensitive adjustments that support and connect with the individual. Working with Moksha, students feel supported, to connect with their own internal rhythm, whilst challenging them to explore their practice. It is a joy sharing and practicing at Yoga Om with some wonderful teachers whom he has nurtured and guided through his certified teacher training program.
"Each day, it is a joy to come into the studio at Yoga Om, to feel the warmth created in the room and the pulse of the collective breath. Watching students finish their practice and leave the studio with a smile on their face and a skip in their step reminds me what a gift it is to be teaching yoga. I feel blessed to be part of the ever growing community at Yoga Om."
Nikola is the founder of Adore Yoga, one of Sydney’s leading yoga schools. A yoga teacher with over 20 years experience, yoga therapist, teacher trainer, mentor and mother, she’s passionate about building caring communities that do good and feel good. In 2012 Nikola initiated the Pink Yoga project, dedicated to making therapeutic yoga and meditation freely available to women with cancer. ”
"YGB’s programs provide practical ways of extending the privileges we take for granted – education and economic independence– to women in India who need our support. Yoga means union and Yoga Gives Back connects yoga practitioners from all over the world with the wider community. It’s always a privilege to serve and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share some of the many blessings I have received in my life with others."
Nihan was born in Istanbul and studied political science and international relations at university in Istanbul and New York. She has been doing yoga since 1999 and took her yoga teacher training course at OM Yoga Center New York in 2008. After the course, she quit everything in return for a life of Yoga. She does yoga, teaches yoga, and teaches workshops and teacher trainings all around the world including UK, India, Italy, South America, Cyprus and Turkey. She's based in Istanbul, Turkey where she teaches in a healthy life center named D-Life. She is also the brand ambassador of Adidas Turkey for their yoga clothing line.
"I start my day with a thanking session for the breath that I take in the morning, for living healthful and blissful with everything that I have. Some people weren't born as fortunate as we are, but they also have simple needs and beautiful dreams as ours. I believe that it is our duty to share what we own with the community in any conditions which can be financial help or just a motivational conversation or just a big hug and smile, what ever available for us. This was my starting point for creating charity events in my own country, then Yoga Gives Back found me, when I decided to spread my gratitude to global area. Yoga gave me a lot that can take a book for me to write down, now it is my turn to give back by yoga. "
Yoga Instructor, Teacher Trainer & Mentor. Certified Professional Life Coach. Mia grew up as an avid equestrian and dancer in Murrieta, Ca. Little did she know this would pave the way to her love and devotion of yoga.
At 18, she went on to dance professionally, working in film, TV, stage and music videos. While simultaneously earning her degree in Psychology from UCLA, the competitive world of dance revealed self-doubt and insecurities that needed attention and healing which led her to work with Mona Miller, her teacher and mentor. Mia's yoga practice began in 1996 with many teachers studying different styles and philosophies, ultimately finding her passion in vinyasa flow. Mia began teaching in 200 and is a YogaWorks certified teacher and teacher trainer, as well as mentor for the YogaWorks 300-hour program. Her purpose as a teacher is to allow the student to have an authentic experience that is sacred, healing, uplifting, and inspired by spirit.
"The greatest gift yoga has given me is to nurture my self esteem and to live in my personal power. Nationally and globally, the paradigm of power is shifting. Women and the impact of the feminine voice are creating a platform that unifies us as a world culture. Yoga Gives Back is an incredible organization that creates micro loans to empower women in some of the most impoverished parts of India. As a woman, yoga teacher, and small business owner, I am thrilled to be part of this organization that encourages women to find their voice and express it through the entrepreneurial spirit of business development."
Alexa Nehter is a 500 hour RYT Yoga Teacher, and the founder of Yogic.com.au. Through teaching yoga at studios, retreats and festivals across Australia and Europe, she has fuelled her passion for living life in alignment and to the fullest. Alexa has always been committed to volunteering and giving back. While travelling the world for a decade in her twenties, she worked with disadvantaged children in villages, orphanages and schools across South America and Asia. She is a firm believer that this is an incredibly powerful way of repairing the circle in a world that is energetically unbalanced.
"Yoga has profoundly transformed my whole life and helped me become clearer about the truth of human potential – that we all have the power to heal and elevate the world. YGB provides a beautiful way to channel this uplifting energy. We really can make a difference to the women and children in India. By helping this group of unseen, unheard voices to create sustainable self-sufficiency, we can ensure enhanced quality of life – not only for today, but for future generations. YGB opens another gate for the flow of energy in the right direction and gives my students and me the opportunity to be the gentle force for loving change we wish to see in the world. "
DAVID KIM (E-RYT 500) is a Senior YogaWorks Teacher Trainer, who leads numerous trainings, workshops, and retreats all over the world. A Brown University graduate, David draws heavily from the Iyengar and Ashtanga traditions in his practice and teaching, enriched by the contemplative poise of Yin Yoga and Mindfulness meditation. Employing skillful sequencing and precise instruction, David’s classes – including online offerings at MyYogaWorks.com and YogaVibes – reflect his heartfelt dedication to a profoundly enlivening, healing practice.
"Yoga is a profoundly empowering practice, one that reveals our true potential for transcending limiting, often negative thoughts and circumstances. Likewise, YogaGivesBack empowers working women in India by micro-financing their efforts to create jobs and educational opportunities – for themselves and their families – that might otherwise be out of reach. While alleviating Third World poverty may seem a monumental task, yoga teaches us that transformation is a step-by-step process, a dedicated practice founded upon the simple belief that such change is possible."
Gary is currently based in Los Angeles where he teaches Vinyasa yoga and meditation. His classes are challenging, yet accessible to all and emphasize the totality of the practice. A combination of a commitment to “do the work”, accompanied with a gentle sense of humor guide his students to levels they never thought were attainable. In his previous life, he was an Army Ranger, a combat commander, and a worldwide security consultant. Author of : Jamie's Rock: A Story of Tibet
"My travels around the world took me to some of its most impoverished locals. My studies of Tibetan Buddhism instilled within me a need to do something about the suffering I saw. I am so grateful to Yoga Gives Back for allowing me to participate in their efforts to bring real positive change to those who most need it, and in the process, enhance my own life in ways I could not have imagined."
Magnolia began practicing Mysore Ashtanga Yoga in 1997 with certified teacher Noah Williams and authorized teacher Kimberly Flynn. She first met and studied with Sri K Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois in 2004 on her first trip to India. Since then she has traveled and studied in Mysore 9 times and taught in Hong Kong, Tokyo, France, and is currently running a traditional Mysore School 'Mysore SF' in San Francisco. She continues her yogic studies with Sharath Jois in Mysore every year.
"I have traveled a total of 10 times (3 to 6 months each visit) to Mysore, South India as well as lived in Bihar, North India for one year. I consider India my second home and have seen first hand the status and reality of women in India. Of all charities I have been exposed to and had the experience to work with, YGB has the most interesting and inspiring impact on the women and children it reaches."
Founder and director of TOKYO YOGA (TYG) Chama is one of the leading yoga teachers in Japan. He has been exploring and balancing the body and mind in order to experience wellbeing and peace through practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Craniosacral Therapy. After studying under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Judith Lasater, Chama is highly skilled at drawing out the full potential of individual bodies with a wealth of unique and anatomically-based teaching methods. To share the experience and benefits of yoga, Chama currently teaches at his own studios and many workshops throughout Japan including major public yoga events such as Yoga Fest, Yoga Aid Japan, and Yoga at Patagonia. He publishes the most popular free yoga magazine,YOGAYOMU; supervises the production of DVDs and yoga books; and appears in various media, including magazines and on the web. Chama is a leader of YOGA volunteer group “Yoga and Music(YAM).” In 2011,he led a group of volunteers to Tohoku, Tsunami area. Chama’s work has been featured in Yoga Journal.
"I am always working to be able to practice YOGA, in addition to instructing yoga. I will be very happy if my participation in Yoga Gives Back will create an opportunity to everyone to think about practicing YOGA while bringing happiness in others’ lives."
Surrounded by melodic kirtans, devotional mantras, and the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita and other ancient texts since early childhood, Maneesh found his passion for yoga rekindled as an adult. Blessed with the chance to study briefly with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois before his passing, and profoundly influenced by world-renowned teachers Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty, Maneesh has been teaching yoga and creating opportunities for Japanese students to study with these senior teachers. Through this work, he endeavors to make the teachings of the Motherland (i.e. India) more accessible and understandable to those in Japan. In the process, he aspires to construct a ‘silk bridge’ between these two Buddhism-sharing Asian cousins and their cousins around the world.
"I was introduced to Yoga Gives Back when an old yoga friend sent me the Sister Aid: Part 3-NISHTHA video. For those who may not have yet seen it, well, you must see it. It takes place in West Bengal, the region where my mother was raised and a place I spent a number of summer and winter vacations as a child. So I felt an instant connection to the video, the young mothers trying to make a better life for their children and the message that there IS something we can do. In a short 7 minutes, this powerful video reveals how easily we can help our fellow human beings who suffer far away, out of sight. Distance becomes no barrier. Yoga Gives Back has made it easy. And the message is clear: let’s take a bit of time out of our lives, to give thanks and to share with the country that has brought us immense joy through this body of knowledge and practice called yoga. I am honored to have this opportunity to help, to spread the word, to raise some donations, and to combine my love for yoga with my passion for contributing to the welfare of the Motherland. As my teachers often remind us, it is all too easy to forget how blessed we are just to have the means, the time, and the ability to practice Yoga. I would like to thank Yoga Gives Back for providing me this platform to add my drop or two to the ocean of charity, and to give back."
Alessandra di Prampero is a certified Anusara Yoga Teacher from Milan, Italy. She began her hatha yoga practice as a child under her mother’s teaching. In 1993, she had the great fortune of meeting her spiritual advisor, who introduced her to meditation and to all the traditional aspects of yoga.
After graduating cum laude with a degree in Roman History, she realized that what she liked most was sharing her yoga experience. So, in 2001, she began teaching hatha yoga. She has been studying and practicing Anusara Yoga since 2002 and has worked with several Anusara certified instructors, among them Jayendra Hanley, Piero Vivarelli, Andrea Boni, Ellen Saltonstall, Jim Bernaert and John Friend, the founder of Anusara Yoga.
In November 2004, she obtained her certification from SOLOYOGA Association, and became a member of the Italian National Yoga Teachers Association (YANI) in 2005. Alessandra’s students at Sattva Studio love her energy, her gentleness, her sincerity, and her ability to look at daily life with spiritual glasses.
"Yoga has changed my life. Through the years of practicing yoga, I have realized that life is good and well worth being experienced, even though it can be challenging. As a yoga teacher and practitioner, supporting women and children in India through Yoga Gives Back is a way to express gratitude to that country for the amazing yoga heritage. And as a woman, I’m particularly happy to help other human beings to transform their lives. Through YGB’s microcredit program, I hope women can feel good about themselves as they realize they’re able to sustain their families and give their children the chance for a better life! "
Manon Simonis-Bruens, dedicated yoga practitioner and owner of two yoga studios in the Netherlands, Yogaplace Maastricht and Sittard, will succeed YGB Netherlands founder Janneke Verburg-Wiersma. Janneke built the YGB Dutch community in one year, with dozens of very successful "Thank You Mother India" and relay classes. Manon and her dedicated team at Yogaplace will now lead YGB Netherlands.
"Janneke planted the seed and I will nourish and cherish with love to make this beautiful flower grow, spread through the whole of our country and to all of our yoga loving people. This is a great alternative to feel close to the country and its special people again, taking this role in Yoga Gives Back. As a woman, wife, bussinesswoman I try to relate to woman in need but also with a goal and a perspective. My heart goes to the most vulernable and pure women in India who need support to make a step towards being an independent, educated, self employed, strong woman. I feel proud to give, I'm in the journey, the journey to make difference, to do what I can with my team to support and reach out to all the woman in need."
Kathleen Kastner is the Owner of Maya Yoga in Kansas City, MO, with her husband Wade Mortenson. She has a B.S in Journalism and a M.S in Exercise Physiology and has been teaching yoga since 1996. She practices ashtanga daily and her long distance teachers are Tim Miller and Jorgen Christiansson. She is vegan, an animal advocate and loves placing homeless pets in forever homes.
"I want to help the women and children of India to have financial independence and an education, so they have the opportunity to achieve their dreams in life."
Creator and President of the YogaFit Training Systems, Beth Shaw has dedicated her life to YogaFit and the transformational growth that the company creates globally. She has been extensively profiled and quoted in the media, including in print, internet, radio, and on television. Shaw is the entrepreneurial innovator behind numerous fitness trends including YogaFit Sweat, YogaLean, and the popular YogaButt.
A life-long student of fitness, psychology, philosophy, spirituality, and health, Shaw is committed to helping people find their own perfect physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. On this path, she has studied yoga in India and Asia, holds numerous certificates in fitness disciplines, is an E-RYT registered with Yoga Alliance, a certified anger management specialist and has earned a bachelor's degree in both Business Administration and Nutrition. "It is our mission to create transformation of the whole person; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually."
"I want to support Yoga Gives Back because not only am I blessed to be able to practice Yoga and meditation but the entire YogaFit Network of over 200,000 instructors have benefited from this practice as a result. When I heard about the mission of Yoga Gives Back it resonated with me instantly. Its crucial that we all step up and support the land, people and energy of India, the oldest country in the world. Lets give back to Yoga the way yoga has given back to us. "
Melanie has been practicing Ashtanga yoga for almost twenty years. She first discovered Ashtanga in Mysore, India with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois who became her teacher until his death in 2009. Melanie holds the honor of Certification by Jois, one of only 35 teachers worldwide to achieve this recognition. Melanie teaches traditional Mysore style in her hometown, New Orleans, Louisiana and believes Mysore style to be the heart of Ashtanga practice. She has a two-set DVD, "Mysore Style Ashtanga Yoga," the top seller on Ashtanga.com. Melanie's enthusiastic approach to Ashtanga is authentic to Jois' teaching example, grounded in the principles and philosophy of the practice and tempered by alignment and attention to detail.
"I am thrilled to be a part of YGB. I am honored to support an invaluable organization that has taken the time and energy to give back to a community that has provided me and so many others, directly and indirectly, with endless love and inspiration. Thank you for taking up the slack for the rest of us. More specifically, I have experienced first hand the beauty and grace of the poorest women and children of India. It is imperative we reach out to them with the support they need to grow as yoga lifts us up each and every day helping us to transcend to higher ground."
Harmony Lichty has been teaching Ashtanga Yoga in the Mysore method for over a decade. After completing two degrees in Philosophy and Eastern Religion, she made her first trip to India, to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. She spent the following five years living in Asia, traveling and teaching yoga, with long periods dedicated to practice and exploration in Mysore, where she was honored to receive Guruji’s blessing to teach.
After Guriji’s death in 2009, Harmony moved to Victoria, British Columbia, and along with her husband Jeff, founded Ashtanga Yoga Victoria. Harmony returns to India frequently to deepen and enrich her own practice under the watchful eye of R. Sharath Jois, and has spent time expanding her knowledge of yoga under the attentive guidance of Sri O.P. Tiwari.
When she is not practicing or teaching, you can find her playing with her young son, Jediah, who fills her days with song and magic. Life is full and sweet.
"Yoga Gives Back is an inspiring, transformative organization that invests in one of India’s most valuable and yet, underrated resources: women. By empowering these motivated women to create something for themselves, their families, and their communities, and by encouraging them to further invest in their children’s education, this simple act of micro-financing becomes powerful enough to change the lives of many generations. As a daughter, wife, and mother, my heart was deeply touched by the testimonies of the women whose lives have been forever changed because of their involvement with this non-profit organization. India is a place that is very close to my heart, and I, personally, have been forever changed because of my connection to Her, and Her gift of Yoga. India is a country where my spirit feels very much at home, and my heart breaks for so many women there who work so hard to support their families, and yet, are often victims of abuse and inequality. My life has been blessed by India in more ways than I can express, and by several great Teachers, Gurus, who have brought me out of darkness and into the light. I feel that Yoga Gives Back is an opportunity to share this light with the people, the sisters, who reside in the country of my heart and truly need our assistance. It is a tangible way for me to say “thank you” to Mother India for all that She has given to us, and continues to share."
Lorraine found Yoga in 2001 while working in the entertainment business as an artist manager. The hectic life of working more than 16 hours a day average for many years had been draining out her energy. Until one of her artists, the co-founder of a top-notch yoga studio in Asia, took her to her first yoga practice to release tension. Lorraine has been practicing yoga since then and felt the urge to share with more people. She is now a yoga teacher after receiving her first teacher training certificate in Florida, U.S.A in 2005. The self awareness, compassion and mind/body balance yoga gives Lorraine has become part of her daily life.
"It's my honor to have met another amazing lady in my yoga path, founder of YGB, Ms. Kayoko Mitsumatsu at this 2013 Evolution - Asia Yoga Conference! What YGB is doing is so meaningful and vital to a group of women and children, that could affect their lives completely in the long run! I have no hesitation and feel highly motivated to bring more people's awareness to help improve these situations! Yoga has been giving so much to me and to people around the world, and it's time for people to give back and support Yoga Gives Back!"
Devorah has been practicing traditional Ashtanga Yoga since 1993 and for the past 17 years has been sharing her knowledge and passion with her students. In 1997 she made her first trip to Mysore, India to study with her teacher Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and in 2000 Devorah was honored to receive Gurujii's blessing to teach. In 2007 she founded Mission Ashtanga, a traditional Mysore Ashtanga school in San Francisco's Mission district. In addition to her yoga teaching Devorah is also a licensed Somatic, Body-Centerd Therapist and Yoga Therapist and has a private practice in San Francisco.
"I love this organization. Yoga Gives Back is truly special. Just like the transformational practice of yoga, YGB is helping to transform the lives of so many women and offering them a way to find profound change to help themselves and their families. Yoga has offered me so many gifts and I feel blessed to be a able to give something back and to be of service."
Adri Kyser is a world-renowned Yoga Teacher and Wellness Coach with a strong, and dedicated following. Adri’s expertise has appeared in a number of publications, and she has been featured as the face of several incredible fitness and wellness brands. Adri’s unique and authentic approach to wellness stems from her personal experience in coping with chronic back pain for over a decade, and is supported by an extensive and growing list of certifications in multiple healing and wellness modalities. Adri Kyser has helped hundreds of women worldwide live a more mindful, healthy and balanced lifestyle by providing classes, coaching sessions and specialty programs that teach how to discover and develop the innate power of true inner beauty.
"I am proud to support Yoga Gives Back because their mission resonated with me instantly. YGB helps women empower themselves. It offers them the opportunity to thrive as business women to improve their lives and the lives of their families. There is nothing greater than the gift of being able to help others and make a positive difference in their lives. When we give with an open heart... whether it is teaching yoga, donating time or money, the ripples of that positive energy can reach places and people far beyond we ever thought possible."
Jill owns a yoga studio, directs a yoga teacher-training program, and teaches a variety of yoga and fitness classes. Her other passion is writing. She has written hundreds of articles for many publications and has just begun to write her first novel. As an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back, Jill hopes to create an awareness of the importance of taking care of ourselves through yoga, so we can be of greater service to others.
"At the end of each yoga class, I always say to my students, 'Thank you for taking care of your mind and body, because as it helps you, it helps those around you.' Practicing yoga fosters a willingness to serve. Yoga Gives Back is a blessing for those who want to express their appreciation by giving back to the beautiful people of India, the birthplace of yoga, and make a positive impact, not just in their own life, but also in the lives of many."
Kim is a yoga teacher and healer known for her holistic approach to spirituality.
"The gifts that yoga have brought to my life are too many to list. It has been what has nourished and sustained me during trying times, brought me strength when I needed to be strong, joy when I've felt hopeless. I've chosen to support YGB as my way of expressing gratitude and giving back. The work that Kayoko and the YGB team do everyday garners very direct and impactful results that are both sustainable and life changing for the folks who receive the resources and support they need touplift themselves and their communities."
A large part of my yoga practice is to give what I have been given, and I feel blessed to be apart of the Yoga Gives Back family for that reason and many others. I see YGB as a powerful community taking action to support others and I look forward to creating life changing ripples on this globe, all the way from Okotoks, Alberta, Canada."
"Since yoga has been a part of my life, I am continuously inspired and transformed everyday. Through yoga I have learnt the tools to be at cause for my life, to be in action and to inspire others. This has bought much peace & passion to my life. "
YGB is thrilled to welcome Denise Waling,dedicated yoga teacher and the owner of The Yoga Place LA (the yogaplacela.com) as YGB Ambassador!!!
"After organizing my 2nd fundraising event, I found a real connection to YGB. Listening to the stories about the women and children of India and their struggles, I felt I could relate to their growth, strength and putting pride aside to seek help. The roots of Yoga originated from India and had given me a chance at life. It was time that I, in turn, give the women and children of India that same chance. It is truly an honor to become an Ambassador of this amazing organization. Thank You Mother India. "
YGB is thrilled to have Mara Healy as YGB Ambassador, who has taught TYMI at Yoga Flex, Charlotte for the lat two years!! Mara Healy is a Level 3 certified Universal Yoga teacher and yogini practitioner in the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition. She travels the USA teaching Universal Yoga workshops and Universal-based teacher trainings. She is fortunate to call Andrey Lappa, creator of Universal-Yoga, and Shiva Nata & a recognized Lama in the Karma Kagyu lineage, as her yoga teacher.
"YogaGivesBack helps us to support our sisters in India who have selflessly, indirectly and directly, sustained the spiritual wealth of yoga throughout the centuries by supporting, feeding and encouraging past yogis, gurus, yoga masters, sadhakas and siddhas. These yoga masters, who have handed down yoga teachings and traditions throughout the millennia, have always relied upon the kindness of householders (usually women) to sustain their material bodies as they delve into deepest yoga. This is our rare chance to support the women in India who lovingly supported those who taught yoga through the centuries. "
Ali Valdez is a RYT 500 with a profound life-long love for yoga and contemplative practice. She leads workshops and teacher trainings around the world and has been blessed with two amazing teachers: Andrey Lappa and Edward Clark.
"The cornerstone tenets of Sattva Yoga are to contribute to the evolution of the science of yoga and to live in selfless service to others. I cannot think of a more worthy cause than collaborating with and supporting the efforts of Yoga Gives Back as their ambassador for Washington State. Thank you Yoga Gives Back! "
"Yoga gives back is a simple but powerful way to bring about a profound change in someone's life. It is a way for us to motivate Indian women and their families to become independent and secure. It is also a method to give something back to the country of Krishna and Buddha and so many enlightened souls, which gave us yoga, it's philosophy, Ayurveda and all other teachings, which improved mankind. I personally, feel grateful for what it has taught and molded me into, whom I am today."
Samantha discovered her calling in Yoga in 2002. She is trained both the Vinyasa and Iyengar traditions, with a great passion in teaching Yin and Kids Yoga. She enjoys the interaction with students and the ability to share her knowledge with them. Samantha is currently teaching at Pure Hong Kong.
"I am truly grateful for the gifts of yoga have given me, not only on yoga mat, but in my life as well. I used to work in a non-profit-making organisation before teaching yoga full-time and always know how much we should be of help to others, no matter it's big or small. My recent trip to India taught me, again, how much I should be grateful for what I have now and the precious opportunity I have in Yoga. During the trip, the sight seeing bus was on the way back to our retreat centre. It was actually just a less than 10 second scene; I saw a little girl, who was about 4 years old, sitting on a pile of rubbish, crying without anybody taking care of her! I feel very blessed that I could be part of Yoga Gives Back and to serve! I am just a small drop in the ocean, however, we all can get together to become an ocean! "
"I never imagined how drastically a country could influence my life. My regular visits to India, which began in college, have transformed my ambitions as an artist, yoga practitioner/teacher, and human being. They inspired the most empowering realization: to never underestimate our ability to positively transform the world through small, tangible actions. Additionally, the incredible hospitality I've encountered in India constantly reminds me that there is no wealth without love. India has reinforced my appreciation for all I have and all I can do. It is my duty to give back to a place that has given me so much. I am so grateful to work with Yoga Gives Back, an organization that understands the enormous power of working one small step at a time."
"As the founder and former owner of Sisters Yoga, an all-female yoga studio in Fresno, CA., it seemed only natural for me to join the YGB team. When founding Sisters Yoga, my aim was to create a space where female Spirits of all ages could come together in community, tend to the gardens of their self-esteem and empower themselves through the self-discovery and strength building practices of yoga. There's a divine power in sisterhood, and that power is felt amidst sisters of all ages, backgrounds and economic status. We feel our deep rooted connection through the practice of yoga. For the 7 years I've been teaching and the 17 years I've been practicing, I continue to be reminded of the beaming light that shines so brightly within us all. Equally, if someone thousands of miles away suffers, so I suffer. But if I can help and make a difference here in LA, for instance, by raising awareness and money for our sisters in India , then the consciousness of LA is raised and we benefit equally. Every woman deserves a shot to reach her God-given dharmic potential. I'm honored to be a part of the YGB team, as YGB provides the opportunity for women in India to tend to the gardens of their heart's entrepeneurial yearnings and therefore, support themselves, their families and villages in the long run. Such big impacts can be made with small monetary contributions. Some of the biggest leaps in evolution and healing are made with the smallest of steps. I look forward to continue to host yoga classes in LA for YGB and our sisters in India."
"An attitude for gratitude is what I have when I think of yoga. I have been a practitioner since I was 18, I took my first Teacher Training in 2006, and I founded Yogadown Studios Canada in June of 2007. After attending Level 2 Training that same year, I felt like I had tapped into a flowing energy and unbreakable confidence. In October 2010, my husband, 2-year-old angel Bili Be and I took the plunge and moved to Costa Rica to pursue our dream of opening a retreat center. As we journey toward our dream, I continue my teacher training. My husband and I offer Yoga Alliance approved trainings, courses and retreats in Costa Rica and Canada. I also offer Counseling and Coaching worldwide. Yoga has enabled me to live from my heart and follow my dreams. To be a part of the Yoga Gives Back global community is a chance for me to give back to my practice which has given me so much. I am proud to be part of the YGB team and look forward to promoting and coordinating YGB fundraising events both in Canada and on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica."
"I believe in the ingenuity of the human spirit and that when given the chance people will rise to their greatest potential. Yoga Gives Back is more than a charity and fosters the entrepreneurial spirit of the rural women and families they work with. The axiom that says that you cannot feed the world but if you teach a person how to fish or make bread they can feed themselves for a lifetime is at work in Yoga Gives Back. Recipients of YGB loans are rewarded for their hard work, given a chance to succeed and find a way to break the relentless cycle of poverty they were born into. Yoga helps Westerners find peace and thus make their lives more sustainable. With the power of micro-financing Yoga Gives Back helps Indian women gain access to opportunities that would otherwise simply not exist."
Denise Woods is a classically trained dancer with a degree in Dance and Communications from California State Long Beach. She has performed professionally in Los Angeles, New York City, and Santa Barbara. As a graduate of the Rainbow Kid's Yoga and the White Lotus Foundation, she now teaches throughout greater LA. Teaching at various dance and Yoga studios, corporations and schools she has the opportunity to work in various settings and has learned to adapt to the unique needs of each class. Denise is continually inspired by the way Yoga can positively transform a life at any age by setting constructive thoughts and habits. Supporting the growth of two organizations that are dear to her heart she takes on the role of Ambassador to lululemon athletica Glendale and Yoga Gives Back. Denise finds the sparkle in each day by bringing out the essence of a person through the sacred practice of moving from within. By instilling a deep sense of joy, balance and awareness, her hope is that students take these virtues off the mat and into their lives. Denise is forever grateful to her teachers and students for all of the guidance and support along the way.
"Most of my life I have worked with kids. From dance lessons to Yoga lessons my aim is to foster their growth and development so they can be their best selves. I share this gift each day and I know that providing children with a strong foundation is the best way to cultivate lasting change. When I learned about YGB I was so amazed at the way they were providing the women and children of India a solid foundation through the process of micro loans. Yoga Gives Back is a brilliant organization because it is not a temporary aid to the problem of poverty, but has put forth a sustainable way to empower and create a lasting positive impact on society. If you have been empowered by Yoga, sustained by Yoga and felt your foundation grow more solid by Yoga... let's give back."
"As many seasoned practitioners will tell you, yoga nourishes your life in ways you never think possible... just by starting to stretch the body. I realise now, like all things, when you plant a seed and feed it well, it will flourish into an amazing beautiful thing. Yoga has been that seed for me. With deep gratitude, I have been exploring ways to share this experience and to serve through the very thing that offers so much joy. When I came across Yoga Gives Back, I was so inspired by their mission and by the team's sincerity and commitment. It is brilliant that through YGB, we have a direct avenue to support the descendants of our practice and to stay connected to the seeds we plant. I am so honoured and grateful to be a part of this."
"I am incredibly honored to join the Yoga Gives Back family. Being not only a yogi, but also a woman, Yoga Gives Back is a particularly special organization to me, as it provides micro financing to the women of India. A huge part of being a yogi is being of service to others, or seva. Yoga Gives Back selflessly serves the needs of not only women, but as a byproduct of the small loans, the entire country of India, the birthplace of Yoga."
"I support YGB because I have seen first hand how India needs our help. Yoga has given me so much and if there is any way I can contribute to a sustainable future for those living in poverty we can't even imagine, then I feel impelled to do so. What's amazing is how the smallest effort can help. All creatures have a right to freedom and happiness, that should be our goal for All rather than just ourselves. On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure."
"My life has been blessed by the gift of Yoga and India is the source of this wealth of knowledge that has the potential to uplift the lives of all people from all walks of life across the planet. When we take part in the journey of Yoga there is a natural and spontaneous opening of our own heart of compassion, and we want to help our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, especially those less fortunate than us. This is why I am proud to be an Ambassador for YGB. It is the greatest honor to be able to share my love of Yoga with others and at the same time give back to those in need in Mother India. I hope to see you at the next YGB event! "
"The practice of yoga has been a lifeline. The moment I tasted the spaciousness the practice awakened within, there was no turning back. From then on, I have never been the same, and that spaciousness inside has been ﬁlled with a deep sense of gratitude for the vast lineage of teachers and aspirants who came before me in the backdrop of India. To be aligned with Yoga Gives Back ﬁlls me with energy and purpose. Giving those the resources to better the lives of women and their families, through Microﬁnance, lights a ﬂame that will be passed on through generations just as the tradition of yoga has. A circle I am honored to be a part of in any little way I can serve."
Alie has studied yoga and meditation since 1994 and has been teaching since 1999. Her passion for yoga has led her to Bali, Thailand, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Greece and across the United States studying with the world’s foremost teachers, such as Erich Schiffmann and Patricia Sullivan. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches classes, workshops and teacher trainings at Moksha Yoga Center and Yogaview.
"Yoga has given me pure gratitude for this gift of being alive. My maiden pilgrimage to India, the motherland of yoga will be in January 2014. My pilgrimage is inspired by the inner yurning to be on the land and of the people where yoga was born. As a woman on this plant earth, it is valuable to me to support other women to thrive. Yoga Gives Back's "Thank You Mother India" Campaign is about honoring and nurturing the roots and life of Indian women and children. I support Yoga Gives Back in this effort and gleefully declare my thanks to Mother India for the vast treasures I have received from yoga. I say, “Thank You Mother India!”"
Edna has been practicing and sharing yoga from 1998. She stumbled upon yoga at the late age of 38 and found a resonance with the practise and philosophy that shaped and became the whole essence of her inner path and personal manifestation. She has trained in South Africa and in India. She facilitates and shares yoga journeys intuitively, to the needs and subtle energies of the ones involved. To adhere to the physical structure and alignment of body and what asana is asking is also a focus. Also, to reflect and grow and to take the experiences on the mat into daily life, as a backdrop to bring a personal higher awareness. She is currently contracted in the Middle East and venturing into facilitating Destination Yoga Retreats.
Why an Ambassodor:
"To be an Ambassador of Yoga Gives Back is a calling upon my heart. How enriched and empowered by knowledge has all of the Universe and all beings become by the Vedas, Sutras, the philosophies spoken and unspoken, in the context of Yoga! This is not only an opportunity to give back, but to pay forward; an opportunity to nurture the very roots from where my personal relation to Self, Others and the Universe comes from."
One of the most well known Kundalini teachers in the West, Kia has an ability to translate the subtle teachings of Kundalini Yoga in a highly accesable way. Kia's study of yoga began when she was 15. She is certified in both Hatha and Kundalini and teaches workshops, retreats and teacher trainings throughout the world. Kia's passion is to share the Kundalini tradition infused with Bhakti. Kia's classes are a powerful mix of asana, breath, meditation and chanting that will leave you uplifted and empowered.
"I support YGB because they are placing money into the hands of responsible women who are able to turn their lives around and support their families and create employment in their communities. I am a huge fan of mico-loans and have seen how a little can go a long way to creating a sustainable business. It is empowering for women to take charge of their lives, to earn a good living and provide education for their children, in particular their daughters who otherwise are married off at a very young age."
Dr. Genieve Burley is a Vancouver based chiropractor and yoga instructor. She has worked in the health and fitness industry for over 10 years. Dr. Burley takes an active interest in educating people about health and wellness. She has lectured at national fitness conferences, written newspaper articles, magazines, several yoga website articles, and has appeared on Breakfast Television, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Telus television.
"Yoga has been a potent source of growth and healing in my life. After the birth of both of my daughters I experienced post-partum depression. Yoga connected me to the universal source of divinity in which we all possess, our spirit, our breath, our oneness. The greatest thing I have learned from yoga is that we are born to be of service, to help others. As we give love, we receive love in kind. Yoga Gives Back is an organization that helps women and girls in India to have opportunities that otherwise would not be available to them. As a mother of two daughters I am especially dedicated to all daughters, I want my children to be educated and involved in making a difference to these women and children in India, too. It is my goal in life to help and improve the lives of others, and being a part of Yoga Gives Back is a great manifestation of these intentions."
Janná is a Certified Prana Flow®: Energetic Vinyasa yoga instructor, who is passionate, dynamic and creative. Her first exposure to yoga was as a child, witnessing her mother practicing in the early seventies. In late 2007, a serious but unrelated neck injury forced a lapse in Janná's teaching and performance schedule. While using her personal yoga practice as a method of healing, she attended one of Shiva Rea's Prana Flow® teacher trainings and was so inspired that she immediately registered for the certification program. Ever-expanding her practice, Janná is currently earning the final 300 of a 500 hour certification in Prana Flow®, she also assist Shiva Rea in Prana Flow® teacher trainings, and has begun her Living Ayurvedic Consultant certification.
"I am so inspired to support Yoga Gives Back, "Sister Aid", and to host a "Thank You Mother India!" event! Helping alleviate poverty by empowering women through education, and micro credit programs is so important and helps everyone in their communities! Giving impoverished women the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families helps all beings around them. ~ Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all."
"What a gift to society when we show anything is possible where resources present themselves. It brings great joy to my heart to witness people supporting each other to bring forth change in our world. "
"As a yoga teacher and studio owner I'm committed to and excited about supporting Yoga Gives Back. The practice of yoga has changed my life and given me so much. It seems the very least we can do as a community is try to give something back to the country from where it came. Sometimes it can feel like the problems of the world are insurmountable. The fact is, a very small amount of money (what most people spend on a couple of yoga classes), can really change someone's life."
YGB's core mission to "give back" and support women through micro-lending truly resonates with me as an effective and empowering approach for Indian women, tackling poverty at its roots. It allows me to to express my gratitude for India's transformative teachings that I embraced more than 20 years ago, while being of service. I also truly enjoy working with YGB: a wonderful team of visionary and kind individuals.
"Yoga Gives Back grants us a direct way to offer concrete, valuable support to our sisters in India. Rather than giving them funds that will eventually be depleted, Yoga Gives Back inspires and encourages their creative vision, enabling them to become businesswomen who sustain their homes and families with their ideas. With Yoga Gives Back, the women served have same chance that we have in our society."
"Just as the pull of gravity is a natural force in the universe that enables us to experience true relaxation, so is our ability to be of service to those in need. All we have to do is cooperate. I am honored and thankful to Yoga Gives Back for giving me the opportunity to cooperate with what is natural. Thank you, Yoga Gives Back!"
"I support YGB in order to turn my feeling of gratitude into action. I am thankful that I have a good, comfortable life, and I am so deeply thankful that yoga has benefited me in countless ways -- and I see it in my students every day that I teach yoga. But there are so many whose lives are far from comfortable. YGB has provided me with a brilliant way to turn my appreciation into a little lift-up for some of the world's poorest people. That's what microfinancing is -- a lift-up, rather than a hand-out."
"When I first came to yoga, it was for selfish reasons such as getting back in shape after the birth of my first child, getting some time to myself while I was in the throws of new motherhood. As months went by, I realized that yoga was so much more than just the silly poses that we bend our body into. The practice of yoga has made me a better person all the way around. Yoga has taught me that the way I treat my friends, children, husband, and family deeply reflects how I treat myself. Yoga has shown that there is peace and contentment and bliss deep inside each and every person â€" it may just hide a little deeper in some of us. Yoga allows you to find that. Yoga Gives Back is such an amazing organization. It allows us as devoted yogis, to give back to the place that gave us such an incredible gift. With everything that yoga has taught me, there really isn't a question as to IF I should give back, it's only a question of how. YGB provides me that "how" and really allows me to practice my yoga!"
"We have so much to thank mother India for as Yogi's. My yoga practice has been the one grounding force in my life and has brought me so much clarity,wisdom and peace. Part of our practice as Yogi's is Seva or selfless service and I am so happy that I can serve and be a part of this wonderful program: Yoga Gives Back. It allows us to give back to our sisters in India. Everyone should have the opportunity to create and find a way to self sufficiently and with YGB women in India can support themselves and their families. What a beautiful way to say thank you."
Wendy is originally from Whistler, Canada but spent many years living and teaching in United States. She has resided in Hong Kong since 2006. Her classes are influenced by all her yoga teachers but also inspired by her life. She teaches uplifting classes with emphasis on listening to ones inner wisdom while healing and creative self-expression. As a teacher, she inspires her students to practice truthfulness and live their yoga on and off the mat.
With many unique trainings under her belt Anusara, Bikram, Baptiste Vinyasa Power Yoga, Kundalini, Forest Yoga, yin yoga, to her Hatha studies in the ashram's of India. Wendy is an inspired supporter of YGB. As she feels so grateful to have yoga in her life and loves the idea of going back to its source and giving thanks and support to those who need it.