“My teacher B. K. S. Iyengar always said that “Generosity does not impoverish.” I’m so incredibly grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to giving back in particular to the country from which Iyengar came from, India. There are those of us to whom generosity, gratitude is kind of the core who we are. I think for those of us who have the capacity to cultivate that muscle, that heart muscle of gratitude is a tremendous practice in small ways, in big ways.”
Trudy Goodman, PH.D., is the founding teacher of InsightLA and cofounder of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. She has taught at universities and retreat centers worldwide for over 40 years. Trudy has trained in mindfulness and Zen since 1973, holds a graduate degree in developmental psychology from Harvard, and is one of the senior Buddhist teachers in the U.S. She is widely known for her role as the voice of Trudy the Love Barbarian in the Netflix series “Midnight Gospel”. Trudy is a contributing author: Clinical Handbook of Mindfulness (Springer, 2008); Compassion and Wisdom in Psychotherapy, (Guilford Press, 2011); Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, (Guilford Press, 2013). Learn more about Trudy at TrudyGoodman.com and InsightLA.org.
“I support yoga gives back because this is heartfelt gratitude in action. I love YGB’s international outreach – 30 countries and counting, the support and focus on sisterhood, education, and love.”
“The daily practice of Ashtanga Yoga has transformed my life and through Yoga Gives Back I have the chance to give something back to the home of Ashtanga Yoga in the world in India. For as little as the cost of one yoga class you can change someone’s life in India. 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. I am honored to do what I can for Yoga Gives Back.”
After graduating Cornell University in 1992, she designed textiles and apparel for almost a decade before focusing on yoga, meditation, art and writing. Her first book, Art of Attention, has been translated into seven languages; her second, Practice You, is a bestseller. Both Practice You and Being You are utilized as teaching tools in a variety of settings. Elena’s first collection of poetry, Softening Time, arrives in May 2023. Elena’s yoga classes and meditations are featured on Glo. Her virtual Engaged Mentorship is renowned for inviting analog creativity into online coursework, and her Perceptive Parenting audio course is a key resource for parents. Elena’s spoken word poetry can be heard on Above & Beyond’s Flow State albums. She works to elevate bright futures for girls, women and children through her support for Girls on Fire Leaders, On The Inside and Free Food Kitchen. Elena is commencing Buddhist Chaplaincy training in 2024.
“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.”
Philip Goldberg has been studying India’s spiritual traditions for more than 50 years, as a practitioner, teacher, public speaker, and writer. He is the author of numerous books, including Roadsigns on the Spiritual Path; the award-winning American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West; The Life of Yogananda: The Story of the Yogi Who Became the First Modern Guru; and his latest, Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times: Powerful Tools to Cultivate Calm, Clarity, and Courage. He blogs on Elephant Journal and Spirituality & Health, cohosts the Spirit Matters podcast, and leads American Veda Tours to India. His website is www.PhilipGoldberg.com.
“I have always considered India my spiritual homeland. It is a land of both sublime blessings and horrifying problems. Its people need help, and it warms my heart when those whose lives have been enriched and transformed by the wisdom of India’s sages step up to contribute. One of those generous souls is Kayoko Mitsumatsu, and I am honored that she asked me to be an advisor to Yoga Gives Back. I have high regard for the work YGB has done and look forward to helping it continue to uplift Indian lives in any way I can.”
GURMUKH KAUR KHALSA
LOS ANGELES, CA
Gurmukh is the co-founder of Golden Bridge, the premier center for the study and practice of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation as taught by Yogi Bhajan. For more than four decades students in Los Angeles and around the world have sought out her classes in Kundalini Yoga, Meditation, and Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga. Since being baptized more than 40 years ago with the spiritual name that means, “One who helps thousands across the world ocean,” Gurmukh has dedicated her life to fulfilling her namesake. As two of the world`s leading Kundalini Yoga teachers, she and her husband Gurushabd travel worldwide, bringing this vast Technology and Teachers’ Training Programs to students globally in the U.S.A., Mexico, Europe, Russia, India, and South Africa. She is the creator and pioneer of The Khalsa Way Prenatal Teachers’ Training Immersion. Gurmukh`s book, The Eight Human Talents, has been a long-time yoga best-seller along with her many DVDs. Gurmukh founded Seva Corp., a nonprofit organization that supports schools and orphanages in India. Her Spiritual Teacher Yogi Bhajan taught, “We have come to create teachers, not to have students.” She has dedicated her life to the Teachings of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan.
Founder of ATHA YOGA in Japan, Maneesh offers a unique insight into the world of yoga. Born into a traditional Indian family living in Canada, Maneesh grew up firmly established in the roots and philosophy of Yoga. A degree in pharmacology gave him an insight into the human body from a scientific standpoint and his passion for sports made him a lifelong student of physiology, function and movement.
After MBA school, Maneesh moved to Asia to join the investment bank Goldman Sachs. First in Tokyo and then Hong Kong, his experiences in the corporate world made Maneesh a more well-rounded yoga instructor and mindfulness coach. He can relate to those who are busy with life in this fast-paced, often overwhelming world, yet are in search of a more permanent contentment and peace.
Maneesh left the corporate world and returned to India in pursuit of further studies in yoga, Ayurveda (ancient Indian medicine), and Sanskrit. Since returning to Japan in 2009, Maneesh has been sharing his insights both domestically and abroad, offering classes, retreats, workshops as well as corporate lectures and seminars on yoga, meditation, mindfulness and wellness.
“I fully believe in Kayoko and the YGB mission. I have believed in both since the day I first met Kayoko some 8 years or so back. It is the reason why I joined as ambassador that very day. And it is the reason I have tried to help raise funds and spread the word in Japan (and beyond) for all of these years.
As a board member, I feel I can help in a larger capacity beyond simply the Japan piece. With a better understanding of the broader picture, I would like to help YGB gain certain efficiencies, come up with some novel ideas and approaches, and execute these ideas so we can continue to increase our impact on the Motherland.”
Kathleen Ross-Allee is Managing Director, LMU Yoga Therapy Rx Programs (C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, C.P.T.) is a yoga therapist and fitness trainer with more than 30 years of experience as a health and wellness expert.
Kathleen began Leen Bodies in 1991 as an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer in Los Angeles specializing in post-rehabilitation exercise programs and completed her initial yoga training at The Center for Yoga in Los Angeles in 2002.
She has developed yoga therapy and exercise programs throughout southern California and continues to teach ongoing classes to support cancer treatment at Cedars Sinai-Tower Hematology, Cedars Sinai-Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cedars Sinai/Brandman Breast Center, Tower Cancer Research Foundation, and USC Keck and USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Kathleen is also the managing director and instructor at the Loyola Marymount University Yoga Therapy Rx programs as well as a Yoga Therapist and Clinical Health Educator for The Center for Healthy Living at Kaiser Permanente/Woodland Hills, where she applies her skills helping people with a variety of health issues.
“In yoga, we are taught the concept of “seva,” or service to others, which includes a dedication to the welfare of others and the desire to uplift those around us. Seva is an integral part of any yoga practice, as it is in mine. And as a yoga therapist, in addition to being of service to others, I work with people to help them understand their needs and implement ways to address those needs. Yoga Gives Back beautifully integrates these objectives, which is why I chose to be a part of it. When I first heard of Yoga Gives Back and its mission to create a community of yoga teachers who are brought together in this spirit of seva to support women and girls in cultures that are not particularly welcoming of female growth and development, it seemed like exactly the kind of service I wanted to be a part of. I have experienced much kindness and generosity in my life and look forward to the many ways I might be able to share the same through this organization.”
Co-Founder & President, Kiva.org
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Premal co-founded Kiva.org in 2005, which now loans microfinance to 2.4 million people in 83 countries, in total of over 984 million dollars as of 2017. Repayment rate is 97.1 %. Premal’s inspiration for Kiva came during a 2-month volunteer trip he took to India in 2004. During his trip he worked with low-income women to help them sell handcrafts online. While the project had mixed results, it strengthened his belief that the right combination of technology, business and love can create access to opportunity for those who need it most.
Prior to Kiva, Premal worked at PayPal for 6 years as Principal Product Manager during the company’s early years. He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and to FORTUNE magazine’s ‘Top 40 under 40’ list for his work as a social entrepreneur and co-founder of Kiva. He is a graduate of Stanford University.
“I believe in the power of yoga to re-center ourselves and connect with the divinity within us and more importantly, within each other. When we give, it not only helps someone else but just as importantly, it helps us spiritually grow. YGB is one of my opportunities to spiritually grow.
SANTA MONICA, CA
Mallika Chopra is a mom, media entrepreneur, public speaker and published author. Her most recent book, Living With Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy, was published in April 2015.
“I support YGB because of the work they do to support women and children in need. Kayoko, her team, and the many supporters of YGB’s programs embody an authentic understanding that yoga is about service, not just to ourselves, but to our world. Their programs educate and empower, and support real transformation for individuals and communities.”
President LA YOGA
Felicia Tomasko, RN, E-RYT-500, C-IAYT, CAP combines her passions for the teachings of both Yoga and Ayurveda in her life’s work. She integrates her training as a Registered Nurse and her background working in plant biochemistry and cognitive neuroscience in her practice and teaching.She served on the board of directors of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine. In 2002, Felicia was part of the founding team at LA YOGA Magazine, where she is Editor-in-Chief and President of Bliss Network. A longtime teacher, Felicia is a featured teacher on glo.com, is on the Yoga Studies and Yoga Therapy faculty at Loyola Marymount University, and teaches workshops worldwide. Felicia maintains a private practice in Santa Monica. Her commitments include an advocacy for community and highlighting social causes.
“I can’t imagine my life without the practices and philosophies of Yoga. As a member of our modern global community, I believe that giving back and being of service is an important part of demonstrating gratitude for these teachings. Yoga Gives Back expresses that gratitude through targeting efforts that support education and entrepreneurship in India. Education, entrepreneurship, discipline, daily practice, social justice, unity, and how we connect and uplift each other through efforts large and small. I’ve long been a supporter of Yoga Gives Back and I admire the dedication of Kayoko and the other advocates and team members. I appreciate the culture of integrity within Yoga Gives Back as well as the emphasis on making a positive impact in people’s lives through all of the aspects of yoga.”
Suresh K. Krishna
Mr. Suresh K. Krishna is the co-founder & CEO of Yunus Social Business Fund Bengaluru and co-founder & partner of Yunus Social Business India Initiatives.
He has studied MA in sociology and Management at IIMB, Bengaluru. Mr. Suresh is a regular speaker & presenter at various national & international forums.
“Yoga is an integral part of all of our lives. It is not about physical well-being but the emotional and spiritual wellness too. Yoga Gives Back has been thriving since long with a mission to mobilize the global yoga community to empower women and children in India to build sustainable livelihoods. As a social entrepreneur and managing Trustee of a Charitable Trust myself, I strongly feel that our missions are alike and that we together can achieve many things to bring a positive impact in the community, more importantly during this pandemic. I support YGB and respectfully stand with its mission and vision.”
Former Vice President, University Advancement, CSU Channel Islands; Former Executive Director, Grameen Foundation West Coast
“I joined Grameen Foundation in 2007 because I believed strongly in the power of microfinance and its role in the empowerment of women. In May of that year, Kayoko approached me about establishing a relationship between the Foundation and Yoga. I was thrilled that such committed individuals would bring the Yoga community to support the movement. Yoga enthusiasts understand the importance of healing the spirit and nothing heals the spirit of impoverished families more than a woman’s ability to support her children. I have seen it first-hand and I am pleased to continue my work with Yoga Gives Back as an advisor.”
Dr. Shyam Ranganathan
Dr. Shyam Ranganathan (MA South Asian Studies, MA and PhD Philosophy) is a field-changing researcher, scholar, author, and teacher of philosophy, and an expert in the neglected traditions of Indian moral philosophy, which covers practical questions of how to live, what to aim for, and what we should value—including Yoga.
“Yoga is marketed as an exercise in narcissism, but it’s the very opposite. That’s why I am so glad to support Yoga Gives Back, as it is the public practice of a very essential part of Yoga, namely disrupting systemic harm to make room for people. And I am especially excited about its focus on India, from where we learn about Yoga, and for helping, and for focusing on creating sustainable lives for India’s women and children.”
TARA LYNDA GUBER
Tara is a philanthropist, activist, educator and practitioner of yoga for nearly 40 years, Tara Lynda Guber is author of Contact Yoga, the acclaimed guide for utilizing yoga to strengthen relationships, romantic and familial, which earned several awards including a gold Independent Publisher Book Award and a Nautilus Book Award. Tara has been a prominent health and wellness advocate for decades, and regularly traveled to teach at education facilities such as Kripalu Center, the Esalen Institute, and Omega, along with yoga conferences across the U.S., Canada and Europe. A former elementary school teacher, in 2001 she founded YogaEd, one of the first full-time yoga programs to be integrated in a public school, designed to help children explore body, mind and self, and improve their mental focus, academic achievement and relationships. Prior to founding YogaEd, she co-founded Education First!, which successfully produced television programming including a two-hour educational special ,“Back To School” for CBS. With her husband Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, they are owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) and Golden State Warriors (NBA), with Tara serving on the board of the Golden State Warriors Foundation, which works to promote sports and health via youth programs. Also a member of the UCLA Health board and the Joyful Heart Foundation board, she is a founding member of the board of directors of The Accelerated School, the charter school in South Central Los Angeles named “Elementary School of the Year” by Time magazine. Tara Guber resides in Los Angeles.
“I support Yoga Gives Back as an amazing program that supports children and women and India towards creating sustainable livelihoods. I have a deep connection with yoga, and it’s birthplace, India. What better way to connect than through an organization that offers ways to improve the future of both of those?”
Beth Gallagher is an Emmy winning film editor in Venice, California. Beth seeded the idea of YGB FILMS and continued to support its production for the last 15 years.
“As a documentary film editor I understand the power of story telling. I am continually impressed and inspired by how well Yoga Gives Back uses the power of story telling in its documentary films of underserved women and girls in India as they confront poverty and discrimination.
In the last 15 years Yoga Gives Back has combined movie making with activism to reach and grow its global yoga community. As a result, YGB has inspired thousands of yoga practitioners from around the world to transform their personal yoga practice into global action,
by funding micro loans, orphanages and scholarships for higher education.
I look forward to supporting YGB for years to come. I am excited to see how Yoga Gives Back will continue to evolve and expand as a global organization, making real change for women and children in yoga’s country of origin, Mother India.”
Melanie C. Klein
Melanie C. Klein, M.A., is an empowerment coach, thought leader in the areas of radical self-acceptance, authentic empowerment, and supercharged confidence. She is also a successful writer, speaker, and professor of Sociology and Gender + Women’s Studies. Her areas of interest and specialty include media literacy education, body image, and the intersectional analysis of systems of power and privilege. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery + Loving Your Body (Llewellyn, 2014) with Anna Guest-Jelley, a contributor in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice (Horton & Harvey, 2012), is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis (Shroff, 2014), a featured writer in Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Mindful Living (Llewellyn, 2016), co-editor of Yoga, the Body and Embodied Social Change: An Intersectional Feminist Analysis with Dr. Beth Berila and Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016), Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body (Llewellyn, 2018) and the co-editor of the new anthology, Embodied Resilience through Yoga (Llewellyn, 2020). She co-founded the Yoga and Body Image Coalition in 2014 and lives in California.
“I support Yoga Gives Back’s mission to serve, uplift and empower women and children. For me, yoga has been about personal transformation and healing as a path to serve, support and advocate for change in the spirit of collective liberation. Kayoko Mitsumatsu and Yoga Gives Back is a shining example of that shared perspective and praxis.”
Komnieve is a meditator, motivator and entrepreneur based in Southern California. Most recently, he served as the President and co-founder of CallFire, a software company that was named one of the top 5 places to work in Los Angeles as well as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the United States by both Inc. Magazine and Delloite Consulting. Prior to CallFire, he founded an open source focused telecom consultancy. He now finds himself deepening in stillness and contemplation while applying his business acumen to helping socially conscious organizations make an impact.