Prior to moving to the USA in 1992, Kayoko was a producer/director for NHK Japan’s National Public Broadcaster, working on prime time national broadcast current affairs and documentary television programs for seven years; and cultural attaché at the Embassy of Japan in London for two years. Her passion for documentary filmmaking to bridge diverse values and cultures are rooted in the perspective gained from years of living abroad including Australia, Brazil, United Kingdom and USA.
Kayoko co-founded Yoga Gives Back in 2007, from her yoga class in Los Angeles, which has now grown to a global campaign.
Yuki is a freelance journalist contributing to Japanese magazines, newspapers and websites. Before moving to the U.S., she was an editor of a monthly women’s magazine in Tokyo. Yuki first explored yoga in 2000 at a West Hollywood gym. She thought yoga would be too easy for those who love a vigorous workout (like herself), but she gave it a try anyway, and was surprised at how hard it could be. But what really got her into it was the fact that it wasn’t a mere physical workout. The more she realized how deep it was, the further she wanted to study it. Soon she abandoned the gym for a yoga studio, and since 2001, has been practicing Ashtanga yoga exclusively.
I support Yoga Gives Back because it's driven through compassion and giving to serve one of the most important purposes in our lives, helping others. In my own ways, I have felt the challenges that life brings at times when our circumstances make the path of our hopes for the future harder to achieve. I have been so thankful when I've received help myself and I've always wanted to return the same to others.
Once I heard about YGB's mission, how they help empower women and their families in poverty to achieve their dreams. I wanted to be a part of it. My goal in college was not only to do something I loved but to also achieve the stability I needed to survive so I could reach out to others who were struggling themselves. I believe that the women in India have these same desires, to dissolve, through their work and knowledge, the struggles and limiting circumstances they all face. YGB provides a way for us to help each other accomplish the same thing, a world of love, peace, growth, where we have the ability and resources to fulfill our goals and help others in return through these actions. Yoga has brought me much love, light and healing so I'm thankful to be a part of Yoga Gives Back.
Midori is a passionate holistic wellness practitioner and a yogi, who will help with the Japanese translation of YGB contents and more.
Caroline is a yogi, dancer and filmmaker who started doing yoga in college. After struggles with anxiety, yoga and meditation became and integral part of her health and life. As a lover of living mindfully, she has recently quit her full time job and embarked on a journey as a yoga teacher and freelance filmmaker. Eager to give back to Mother India and spread the gift of yoga - Caroline is excited to bring movement, rhythm, breath, compassion and rhythm to her students.
Aditi is a 200+ hour registered yoga teacher and primarily teaches in New York City. As a yogi and teacher, she values creatvity, playfulness, self-discovery and alignment on and off of the mat. Yoga helps us find the thread between our bodies, minds, spirits and minds, so that when we create space in our bodies, we can find the space to live with grace, love and laughter.
Leah graduated from Clark University with a BA in Psychology and MBA in Global Business. After moving to New York in 2004 and beginning a career underwriting specialized insurance, she was blessed to discover Yoga which provided much needed balance to her life. She is so grateful for the mental and physical clarity engendered by the practice, and all the innovators and teachers who have allowed so many people to reap its myriad of benefits. It always puts a smile on her face to see the positive impact of those who practice and the peace they promote in others as a result. She is also happiest when capturing the world's beauty through photography, creating it through decorating and gardening, and experiencing it when playing with her son.
I was first introduced to yoga in 2003 when I was injured. Using the practice to overcome my physical injuries, yoga began to resonate with me on an emotional as well as physical level, and I became a Yoga Alliance certified teacher to share with others the inner steadiness and outer sturdiness that yoga offers. But I was still hungry and desired to experience yoga at its source, which motivated me to travel to Mysore, India. There I studied Ashtanga under Saraswati, daughter of Pattabhi Jois, which led me to the orphanage. In the afternoons, several of my fellow yoga student volunteers and I took the children to the local park. I went to the orphanage to give my time, but what I gained was beyond measure. After I fell in love with yoga itself, I fell in love with an orphanage in India. Traveling to Mysoreopened my eyes to how content, open and generous the people of India are. In the West, we may be economically affluent but often emotionally starved. In India, they are emotionally thriving despite widespread poverty. India stirred a need to connect with myself on a deeper emotional level and a desire to support the people of India to further their economic stability through microfinance and "sister aid."
Yoga Gives Back is an opportunity to express my appreciation to those who gave me this beautiful gift of yoga. Yoga Gives Back allows me to participate in forging an exchange of economic and emotional wealth between the West and the East.
As a yoga practitioner myself, YGB's mission of empowering women in India through the yoga community is in close to my heart. Born and brought up in Bangalore for my first 18 years, I have seen and come across families with abject poverty, who had the potential to better themselves with financial aid. I have supported families, individuals, and have contributed to traditional colleges within my reach. I believe in YGB's intention of bringing the yoga community together to aid would-be successful women in India.
On a personal note, by God's grace I have practiced different forms of popular Yoga styles, meditations, and Tai Chi since 2001, when I started my yoga practice with the intention of improving the community by improving myself. I continue to practice yoga (Ashtanga and Ramdev) and Sri Vidya meditations. I have worked with Schlumberger (an oilfield service company in Houston) since 2001. I hold engineering degrees from IIT Madras and Texas A&M.
Yoga was an integral part of Anita’s upbringing, raised by a yoga teacher/yoga therapist in Los Angeles. She is currently completing a six month, 200-hour Iyengar style yoga teacher training at Casey Health Institute, moving toward qualification to teach a sexually traumatized adolescent population. Through yoga’s philosophical framework Anita found her direction in public health early on, and in recent years discovered that this would be in an entrepreneurial capacity of making health education for young people accessible and engaging on a wide scale. She graduated from The New School in New York City with a self-designed degree in Health Education & Business, and now lives in Washington, DC where she is building a new YGB network and co-organizing DC’s first YGB fundraiser event (coming up in September!).
Donnatella was introduced to Yoga in January 2013 and since her first yoga class Donnatella’s mat is never too far away. Her daily practice is at Hot8Yoga in Beverly Hills and she loved it so much she successfully completed her 200 hour Hot Power Yoga Teacher Training Certification in August 2013 and now teachers Power yoga to a variety of groups in LA. Donatella is so pleased she found YGB, the people, the work and the ethos of the charity is so powerful, it got her like yoga and is so grateful YGB is a part of her life.
Niamh is originally from Dublin, Ireland. After spending a number of years traveling and exploring, she now lives in beautiful Fremantle, Western Australia. Yoga continuously teaches her so much to become more compassionate for herself and others, more patient and mindful. She decided to return to studies in holistic nutrition to further integrate health and awareness into her life and to help empower others on their journey. Niamh is currently undertaking hatha yoga teacher training.
Anand Varadaraj is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Ecoforge Advisors Pvt Ltd. He has a background in renewable energy and Sustainability related projects.
Anand has a Post Graduation in Management Studies with a Bachelor Degree in Mathematics, Statistics and Economics.
Prior to EcoForge, Anand worked in GENPACT, A GE Company, where he worked on Business Market Intelligence projects in GE Aviation. He also worked on GE's Ecomagination Project on Wind Power turbines. He worked on background research on cost-effective model wind power in the world's energy portfolio for GE. He has also worked on projects with livelihoods initiatives, Training rural women panchayat members and advising farmers in water shed programs in rural Bangalore, India. On the board of Bangalore based NGO Vidyanikethan, he advises on development of the NGO in socio-economic sectors. He started a program for the Ngo's School students through corporate funding.
Anand regularly participates in conferences on renewable energy. He was invited to UN conferences on Climate change both at Bangkok and at Copenhagen. He was also interviewed by BBC London for his participation in COP15. He is also TiE member and organizes Environmental related events for them. Anand also works with International TV on Business news reports.
Anand is actively involved in finding and following existing projects of YGB in India.
Dhvani Bhatt is the Global Head of Digital Insurance for HSBC, based in HK. She has a Masters in Business Administration from Kellogg School of Business, Northwestern University. Dhvani maybe a financial services professional but her personal passion is health and fitness with a specific focus on yoga and mindfulness. She is training to be a yoga teacher and hopes one day she will be able to use yoga and mindfulness to help other busy professionals find balance and space in their lives.
Dhvani was born and raised in India and is delighted to join YGB as a global member, based in HK, as it allows her to combine her passion for yoga with her deep desire to give back to the women and children of India.
Meriç Akay, growing up around the world with travelling parents had found a stability in practicing Yoga everywhere. She has obtained her teachers training in the sivananda Yoga Ashram's and continued with diverse trainings such as prenatal yoga, Unnata Aerial Yoga and Swaha Aerial yoga. She had the opportunity to teach and learn yoga in different locations of the world and enjoys the duality of finding steadiness and change through yoga in different phases and locations of her life. Her practice is based on a classical Sivananda Hatha Yoga, however enriched by her various experiences from different practices.
Rosa is a professional photographer as well as a passionate and daily yoga practitioner currently based in Milan, Italy. "Over years of yoga practice and several travels to India, very naturally a deep gratitude has flowered in my towards this marvellous country. I must say that feeling took some time to put its roots in me and it only happened during my third trip there... I don't know how it came, but each morning I felt more and more blessed by being able to practice, to explore my inner self, to get a glimpse of a knowledge transferred in a lineage over centuries... and a deep gratitude started blooming within myself!
So when I met Yoga Gives Back by what might be called 'mere chance', I knew it was not by chance!"
Rosa is hosting her first YGB fundraiser in Milan on March 2nd!
Elina had her first yoga class 4 years ago in a heated room Bikram style and has since go on to complete her 200 hours yoga teacher training in Vinyasa Flow in 2013. A keen traveller and avid lover of the sea, Elina tries to incorporate yoga in her life as much as possible; from visiting yoga studios in every foreign location she is in, SUP yoga to trying out underwater yoga poses whilst scuba diving (for laughs). Yoga has had a tremendous positive impact on her life, body, mind and spirit – and Elina wants to share this with her family/friends and beyond.
I've always had an interest in volunteering and started doing it with different projects at a very young age, but Yoga Gives Back attracted me specially because of the amazing opportunity of giving something back to the birth place of yoga and show my gratitude for such a great gift. My interest in Yoga drove me to live in India for over a year to complete a Teacher Training. Learning Yoga brought balance and confidence into my life, it reinforced the principles and values that I had learned when growing up, and made me aware of my true self. It is a very useful knowledge and I've seen how it has changed the lives of many people. Anyone who has been to India will agree with me that it's a country of contrasts. The experience was overall very positive but at the same time living in India showed me a dark side too: poverty and injustice. My interest in volunteering grew enormously and also the need to share what I had learned. Being involved with Yoga Gives Back allows me to do that and also to collaborate in collecting funds to finance micro credits or educational programmes for women and children in India. My experience with YGB has only just began but I hope we can have a very long relationship.
Ami is a visual artist living and working in London, UK. “From the beginning, my Indian heritage planted the seed for spiritual growth. Nowadays, this seed continues to be explored, nurtured and cultivated and has brought Yoga to be an integral part of my life and well-being”.