Ambassadors of the Year
“Being part of team Yoga Gives Back the Netherlands & Belgium, we already organized many events 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 extraordinary endeavor 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.”
Mina is the founder of the Yoga One Studio in the Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. and 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.”
Surrounded by melodic kirtans, devotional mantras, and the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita since his early childhood in Canada, Maneesh found his passion for yoga rekindled as an adult. Escaping the frenzied rat race of the corporate world in Japan, Maneesh made his way back to India to deepen his studies. Over the following years, his understanding of yoga expanded through his studies and friendship with renowned teachers Chuck Miller, Maty Ezraty, and Chad Hamrin. Maneesh has been teaching yoga, offering retreats, and hosting yoga-related events in Japan for over a decade including over five years of hosting a variety of YGB fundraisers. Through his work, Maneesh endeavors to bring back the true message of yoga and make these teachings more accessible and understandable to the modern practitioner.
“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.”
SHARDA TEN HOVE
Diaforlife, Now You Shine
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.”
“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 realize 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 honored and grateful to be a part of this.”
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.
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”
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. “
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 traveling, 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 interesting 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 uniqueblend 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.”
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! “
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.”
In 2015, while living in Beijing, Gwen saw YGB FILM “My Mother’s Dream” and was immediately inspired to be part of YGB. Being a mother of three growing boys did not stop her from organizing her first YGB event at the International School in Beijing, engaging teachers and students successfully. This March, Gwen successfully organized a YGB Fundraiser at the Habitat Penang Hill, engaging 200 local yogis and community.
Gwen’s teaching is shaped by her first teacher, Wanda Hewitt, whom she feels a deep gratitude to, draws inspiration from the wise and knowledgeable Judith Hanson Lasater and learning so many therapeutic tools in healing herself and helping others through her advance teacher training with Tiffany Cruikshank from Yoga Medicine.
“When I first heard of Yoga Gives Back, I was so inspired by its 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.
Yoga is part of me; and being able to give back through yoga, using it as a medium, as a vehicle, is paramount as it holds a space close to my heart. My hope is to inspire others who have embraced yoga as a journey to give back in other creative ways.”
Erica Trice, Northern California
Erika’s journey with yoga began over 30 years ago and she has been a yoga teacher and teacher trainer for the past 20 years. Erika is known by many students as a creative and skillful teacher whose own training includes many different disciplines from yoga, meditation, qigong to psychology. She is a Yoga Alliance E-RYT500 certified teacher. Currently; Erika teaches at Yoga Works in Northern California.
She is passionate about the importance of a daily spiritual practice as a way to reclaim a strong and compassionate sense of self in a challenging world. Erika supports others to develop a way of living that includes practice each day that is supportive to the individual’s way of living.
“I was inspired by the mission of Yoga Gives Back to support the country that gave yoga to the world. Having traveled in India many times and seeing first hand the poverty that most of the country lives with, I love YGB’s philosophy of supporting mothers and young women to develop businesses of their own so that they can take care of their families and their communities. One of my trips to India included a fund raising effort with some of the students who joined me there for a yoga retreat. Once we were back in the US, we were able to raise enough funds to buy a school bus for some of the local schools. The children no longer had to walk miles to school. It is so important to remember as yoga practitioners that service or Karma Yoga is an integral part of our yogic path.”
Chad Harmin Yoga
Los Angeles, California
Long Beach, California
When she was just 4 years old, Gopi Ona-Ali was blessed with the holy water of the Ganges; since then she has walked closely with Krishna, and held a special place for the children she played with in the land of her second birth.
Today, Gopi Ona-Ali is a yogini, artist, writer, lecturer and teacher based in Long Beach, California, where she is one of four women who run an intentional community. She learned the Yogas of the Bhagavad Gita from her Guru, Sri Donato; it has become a focus of her ongoing study and teaching. Gopi Ona-Ali is a student of Srivatsa Ramaswami of the Krishnamacharya lineage; she teaches traditional Vinyasa Krama asana style with pranayama and chanting.
“I am honored to work with Yoga Gives Back to help express gratitude for how Yoga has shaped her life; and specifically to provide direct opportunities for women and children in her cherished India. I am inspired by the commitment of Kayoko Mitsumatsu to provide the opportunity for Yoga teachers around the world to express their gratitude for all that Yoga has given us.”
Los Angeles, CA
Deepa’s yoga practice started in Bangalore in Bihar school of yoga style. Deepa is an RYT-500 and prenatal yoga instructor who presently lives in Los Angeles and teaches at CSUN, local studios in Woodlands Hills and the local Indian community. For Deepa Yoga is a way of life whe shares this through her Pragathi Yoga classes.
“Yoga is excellence in action. ‘Yogah Karmasu kausalam’. For me yogagivesback is karma yoga. When I found a group of yoga teachers doing their excellent selfless work towards a wonderful cause I looked no further. I joined the one million yogis by hosting fundraising events.I saw an idea that was in my mind since my teenage years put into action.Thank you YGB. I am honored to be part of this family.”
When Sayaka was 10 years old, she was introduced to yoga by her mother. Prior to becoming a yoga instructor she studied yoga, Ayurveda, aromatherapy and nutrition.
By incorporating yoga into child development Sayaka found that children responded positively, became open to cooperation and communication became more effective. Sayaka occasionally instructs yoga at nursery schools and elementary schools.
Even though, Japan is doing well economically, the suicide rates of minors are high and truancy rate increases every year. Sayaka would love to educate the children that being born is the most wonderful thing in the world. She is putting great effort into introducing yoga into school programs all over Japan.
“Last year I went to Nepal as a volunteer and was impressed by the children’s positive attitude towards life, though they live in extreme poverty. I thought that there were many children around the world who need help. But even when I wanted to do something, I did not know what to do. I heard about YGB’s International Yoga Day Campaign and reached out to YGB Founder Kayoko to extend her my support. I am very happy to be part of such beautiful cause.”
Randa Chehab was introduced to her first hatha yoga class at Smith College in 1987. It was not until 1999 when she found Ashtanga yoga. Randa has studied with Jodi Blumstein at Priya Yoga, Nancy Gilgoff and Suzie Gill, a longtime student of Tim Miller.
In September 2002, Randa opened Down to Earth and continued to study with Tim Miller. Randa made her first trip to India in December 2006, going to Kovalam to study with Lino Miele who then introduced her to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Gokulam. After that winter Randa continued to study with Lino giving her a deeper insight into the Vinyasa system.
“I am finishing up my master’s degree in Global Health. I have spent 12 winters in India. studying Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and assisting my teacher Lino Miele. Recently I was introduced to an organization in West Bengal that YGB is partnered with. The Mission of YGB is in line with my work to serve marginalized communities. Gender Equality and Peace and Justice, two of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, is what YGB is working towards. I am honored to be part of a global team as accelerated efforts are desperately needed to reach these goals.”
Rebecca Watson, Los Angeles
Yoga found Rebecca in 2003, when she stumbled into a hot yoga studio on a cold New Years Day. After those first 90 minutes, she knew she needed more yoga (or whatever it was that just happened) in her life. She spent the next 3 years sampling styles, and ultimately was called to share the practice of Vinyasa.
Rebecca considers herself blessed to have found teachers who connect the spiritual and the physical planes within their teachings. In 2006, she obtained her 200 Hour certification with Shiva Rea in Prana Vinyasa Flow Yoga. Vinyasa spoke directly to her nature, with its roots steeped firmly in tradition, yet open to freedom in any given moment. Rebecca has studied with many great senior teachers, and her personal practice is heavily influenced by the classical hatha raja yoga of Sri Dharma Mittra.
Through her teaching Rebecca hopes to impart the wisdom and peace that these practices have given her. She encourages all students to find their teacher within, and to trust and follow that inner teacher with respect and care. All are welcome along this journey.
- Rocket Yoga
• Awakening Yoga Immersion
• 200 Hours RYT Get Loved Up Vinyasa
Brittany Bijan, Sonoma, California.
Brittany Bijan reside in Sonoma, Ca with her husband and 4 children. Yoga has been a huge love of Brittany’s for a long time. She’s taken long breaks from the Asana side of yoga, but she’s always carried the philosophies of yoga and the true meaning of yoga with her in all she does. Brittany wanted to dive deeper into yoga, and took her practice a little bit further, so she completed a 200 hour teacher training program from Yoga Works. She fell deeply in love with teaching. She takes her teaching role to heart, giving her students a chance to breathe, to pause and truly be in their bodies is something she will never take for granted. She is so dedicated to her role as a teacher and her students that she signed up for an additional 300 hour training with Yoga Works that begins this Fall. Brittany hopes to be a forever student. She’s so grateful for the beautiful practice of yoga. She feels indebted to yoga and wants to give back as much as she can.
I found out about YGB from my incredible teacher and mentor, Sarah Ezrin. I was immediately inspired by YGB’s mission and wanted to do all I can to help raise awareness and funds for this beautiful mission I’m fortunate enough to be a part. I am dedicating my practice to this amazing organization. I’m so honored to be a part of this mission. Thank you!
Yancy Scot Schwartz
Yancy Scot Schwartz, Los Angeles
Yancy took his first yoga class in 2005 while on a skate tour in the Dominican Republic. He initially got into yoga because it made him feel lighter while skating. In 2008 he received his 200 hour Vinyasa certification from Yoga to the People in New York City. He also trained for and teaches the 26 hot postures. In 2013 he completed a 500 hour Dharma Yoga Center certification and a 50 hour Rocket Vinyasa certification from Asta Yoga. He wants to help his students evolve beyond the physical and mental, attuning to their natural rhythms and developing their 6th sense.
“Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence. Then, the seer abides in it’s own true nature.” 1.2-3 Patanjali
“If yoga was India’s gift to the world then it’s only right to help , nourish and support the source of our gift “
Karma Shala Yoga
Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
Trained in Ashtanga Vinyasa. Yoga. With Kranti Yoga in India, Advanced Yoga Teacher Training with Erin Evans, Aerial Yoga TT with Circasana and many other workshops with Kino McGregor, Brian Miller, Dharna Nittra and Sean Crone, Melisande owns her Karma Shala Yoga. Melisande believes it is her dharma to share YOGA with as many as people possible, to share the same transformational effects she has received from the practice. Her goal is to inspire others to believe in themselves the same way her teachers have inspired her.
“I support YGB because I want to give back to the mother land that brought us a practice that enriches our lives today. It is hard to put into works my experience of travelling around India and seeing the poverty, injustice and cruel world so many face every single day. My hope is that I can use this amazing life I was blessed to be born into to help those that did not receive the same privilege I did.”
As a pioneer for deep change, Marc has dedicated most of his own life to unraveling this great mystery. An avid Truth-seeker and playful risk-taker, Marc is passionate about refining the art of living and empowering his students to do the same.
Marc is a certified Ayurveda practitioner and Amrit Yoga Nidra teacher with over 18 years’ experience teaching Hatha Yoga and Meditation. He currently lives in both L.A. and Paris for greater access to the workshops, teacher trainings, and retreats he teaches across the globe. He can also be found across the ethers via his many classes streamed on Yogaglo.com. His signature Ayurveda health coaching program, Evolutionary Habits, has been accelerating the wellness path of students since 2012. In 2007 ago, Marc founded Guerilla Yogi, a donation-based community class, to encourage students of all economic circumstances to experience the joy of yoga. Guerilla Yogi continues to thrive in Paris where it has gained tremendous momentum. Because Marc firmly believes that the highest form of teaching is leading by example, he strives to live with integrity and kindness.
I am a Yoga Gives Back ambassador not out of mere generosity, but because it is a duty and responsibility, as someone born into privilege, to look after the least amongst us. India is the motherland of Yoga – and Yoga is a gift that both enhances my life and has saved my life. My gratitude is immeasurable. Yoga Gives Back is dedicated to raising awareness and funds to alleviate poverty in India. If you are enjoying the riches of Yoga in your life, won’t you join me in channeling your gratitude into action.
“…we are privileged, and the duty of privilege is absolute integrity.” ~ John O’Donohue
Jocelyn Solomon Yoga
Santa Monica, California
Jocelyn is a 500 RYT through YogaWorks, Lead Teacher Trainer for both 200 and 300 hour YogaWorks Teacher Trainings, and teaches public classes at YogaWorks and Equinox on the westside of Los Angeles. Jocelyn is also a recovery and health coach, folding in her own twenty-two years of recovery.
Prior to her career teaching yoga, Jocelyn was a criminal and civil rights trial attorney for many years until she became a mother. Jocelyn brings the same passion, drive and commitment to her students as she did her clients. Jocelyn loves to equate fighting for the physical freedom of her law clients with the same liberation and freedom her students seek from yoga. Understanding that everyone has a story, Jocelyn’s classes, though strong and demanding, are welcoming, loving, and a place for every person to create and curate her own perfect experience.
“I support the mission of Yoga Gives Back wholeheartedly. The practice of yoga has carried me through so many times in my life, so it makes complete sense to give back to the women and children of the motherland of a practice that has quite literally been a life saver to me and so many of my students. Service and philanthropy is a core value of mine and my familiy, and I am thrilled to become a part of YBG.”
Daniel found yoga, himself, and the power of service and never ceases to exemplify all that is good in the world of yoga today.
Vinyasa E-RYT 200, Alignment RYT 500, Restorative Level 1 Certified, and Yoga Gives Back International Ambassador. Daniel Taylor, born and raised in Colorado, has an extensive background in resistance strength training and Yoga Asana/Postures. In three years Daniel Taylor has taught over 1500 studio classes and has rapidly immersed himself in multiple yoga methods as a career yoga teacher.
“Yoga Gives Back is an organization that provides the beautiful ability to connect communities across the globe. Having personal experience growing up in local communities centers within the US alongside my single mother, it means the world I have the opportunity to give back to those in a similar struggle who have worse circumstances. I’m grateful for Yoga Gives Back’s ability to streamline help for women and children in need with Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Dr. Muhammad Yunus‘ financing development. It’s a beautiful time to make some positive change, to be a bright light amidst so much darkness.”
Erica Morton Magill
Erica Morton Magill is the co-founder of Los Angeles Yoga Club and Ardor Apothecary in Downtown Los Angeles. She has been practicing yoga since she was a teenager; the practice acting as a thread that has stitched together her adult years. She is trained as a social scientist in Medical Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley; and spent over a decade at the intersection of yoga and social justice teaching yoga, mindfulness, meditation, writing and art to incarcerated and at-risk teenage girls in the San Francisco Bay Area. Erica has written a guidebook on teaching trauma-informed yoga; and in collaboration with neuroscientists, artists, teachers and activists has crafted an extensive curriculum on teaching yoga in prisons and schools. She has had the great privilege to study with and continue to learn from Johnny Smith, Paramaguru R. Sharath Jois, and his mother Saraswati Jois.
“Supporting Yoga Gives Back, an organization that uplifts women and children in India, is a simple and full-hearted way to serve my fellow humans, and to care for humankind. I believe that education is a form of revolution and that an empowered, educated woman is a woman who can effect change not only for herself but also for her community. I am honored to be able to support YGB, giving back to India and its people, who have illuminated my own life and path in deep and meaningful ways.”
New York, New York
Matt has been teaching yoga in NYC for 16 years, is a facilitator at Pure Yoga teacher trainings, tours regularly and has been featured in the N.Y Times, Harpers and Haute Living. His classes are known for their attention to detail, world class assisting and absurdist humor. He can be found @yoga_and_swellness on Instagram.
“In a legitimate spiritual path, there is a evolution from being a consumer to a producer. I love that Yoga Gives Back started as an idea in a yoga classroom 12 years ago. Very big and effective and compassionate things can and do happen from humble beginnings. And as a practitioner and teacher I’m far more interested in making a difference in the quality of lives of others than sharing pictures of my breakfast or splits on a beach. I’m thrilled to use my platform and working relationships to add to the success of Yoga Gives Back.”
Byron Bay, Australia
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 the highest recognized qualification in this method. Dena and her husband Jack live in the hills of Goonengerry with their 2 children Zoli and Izac.
They teach both internationally and from their simple shala in Byron Bay.
Life is full and sweet.
Sarah Williams Yoga
Sarah is a yoga teacher, musician and writer. An eternally grateful student, she teaches a mindful alignment-based style of Vinyasa flow that encourages self-exploration and body and mind awareness. Sarah is passionate about sharing the benefits of movement as well as stillness. Her primary teacher is Jason Crandell who she assists on advanced training. Sarah teaches classes, workshops for students and teachers, and retreats in the UK and internationally.
“I am so proud to be an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back and to be a part of a community who have a vision to empower women with micro loans, and children with much needed educational funds. It’s an honor to get students looking beyond their own practice to raise much needed funds for this wonderful organisation through yoga.”
Dr. Master Kamal
Sri Srinivas Suresh Kamal (Dr. Master Kamal), South Indian born, is one such Yoga Master who has mastered different styles of Yoga since age 5 i.e., Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Kundalini yoga, Himalayan meditation and Philosophy of Yoga. He also has mastered in various martial arts (he is a 5Dan Black Belt) and various fitness sciences.
He created a new age system of Yoga called “KRI YOGA”. The word ‘Kri means ‘action” and yoga means ‘union’. Taking action in creating happy, healthy, joyful, bliss full life with Yoga. The practice of Kriyoga is based on subtle, static and dynamic Prana-Vinyasa (breath flow)yoga practice derived from ancient Hatha yoga, Raja yoga, Patanjali Ashtanga Yoga and Ayurveda (sister of Yoga) together that gives you the utmost benefits in removing toxins and improving physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing.
He has introduced Yoga in south East Asian countries and had opened ways for many Indian yogis and Indian dance masters to teach and live abroad. His success in establishing Yoga in Asia has him honored in a book ‘ the Great Indian Yoga Masters ‘ that was launched in London in 2002 ,as one of the 8 Top Indian Yoga Masters in the World.
Master Kamal and his Kri Yoga (www.kriyoga.com) centers, as the most popular centers in Bangkok, Thailand that provide total well-being program for its members. The center also sets the foundation for KRI YOGA worldwide brand which will extend his vision and care for helping others to live better and more joyful lives.
“We at Kriyoga do Karma Yoga and raise donations to help disabled children and old age homes from time to time. When I met Kayoko and heard that their mission is to give back to India and especially for underserved women and children interested me to join. The thought of it is so touching and I believe all the yoga practitioner around the World should give back as a courtesy to India for its greatest GIFT to World benefitting health, happiness, peace and career.”
Ebb & Flow Yoga
Jill is the Managing Director of Ebb&Flow, a start-up small Yoga Studio in Surrey, UK. She’s not a Yoga instructor herself but works together with her daughter Katy (a Yoga instructor) and Julee (the current YGB – Ambassador of the Year) to grow the business.
She has run many businesses before, including hotels, corporate event companies and art galleries in her career. Jill is very proud to be able to work with her Yoga community to come together and donate to YGB by attending Yoga classes in her studio and with her partners, the various retail companies in the town where Yoga is taught in their shops. All the Yogis love to hear about this wonderful charity and feel really rewarded to know that they are helping so many women and their children in the process of enjoying Yoga.
“When YGB Ambassador Julee (Yew-Crisjns) told me about this charity I connected to it immediately. I knew we could help”
Queenstown, New Zealand
Elina is a certified yoga & mindfulness facilitator, wellness warrior from Singapore who now calls New Zealand home since 2016. She is grateful to be able to receive a world class education as a woman in Singapore which has allowed her to work and travel the world. She believes that the work of Yoga GIves Back is crucial to help alleviate poverty and to give mothers and daughters in India a chance to be educated and financially independent. Elina first met Kayoko from YGB in 2014 and has helped organize YGB fundraisers in SIngapore & Puerto Rico.
“I am inspired by YGB to be of service to others and to give back through a sustainable program that I believe benefits the recipients completely, through education and micro-financing. I am grateful to be part of the YGB team and look forward to sharing this mission with the amazing New Zealand community. “
Los Angeles, CA
Boston and Japan
She believes that “Yoga is for everyone” and teaches not only basic Hatha yoga but also Prenatal Yoga, Baby & Me Yoga, Kids Yoga, and Chair Yoga classes. Her aim is to incorporate yoga into everyday life in various stages and support to create a better.
“When I lived in New Delhi, India, I had an inspiration of potential of yoga from Prime Minister Modi. I heard from him that ‘Yoga is a way of life and helps to unite people.’ In my experience, yoga and yoga community has helped me a lot in Japan, Singapore, India, and the USA. I will contribute to Yoga and India as a yoga instructor.”
Elisabetta is a tiny powerhouse bursting with energy: she’s a fusion of Mexican origins, Italian blood, her years spent in London, a passion for dance, and a joyful, warm character. She’s a reflective person, and her attention to small details expresses how deeply she cares about everything.
The best way to get to know her is to visit her Yoga and Pilates studio, which is located in a small, renovated barn surrounded by olive trees in the heart of the Tuscan countryside – one of Italy’s loveliest spots, and a popular destination for people all over the globe.
At Cirque du Physique your breathing becomes deeper, your gaze becomes more focused, and your mental chatter slowly dissolves in the silence of nature. Here students can perfect their own practice while being accompanied and guided, step by step, in the search for their own true being. At Cirque du Physique there’s time to listen to the sound of the wind amongst the leaves, to recognize the deep harmony which connects every element in nature, and to allow oneself to be restored by beauty. Cirque du Physique was conceived as a place where everyone can dedicate themselves to their own practice, at their own pace, while feeling both at home and far away from it all. Elisabetta is a Registered yoga instructor: Yoga Alliance E-RYT® 200 and YACEP® and Instructor of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, The Rocket®, Stark Body-Flying® and the Postural Pilates Method®.
“I fell in love with Yoga Gives Back because of its ability to spread positive energy with the same spirit that we aim to experience here at Cirque du Physique. This isn’t about offering a helping hand to those in need; there are no givers and takers. Instead, this is a genuine network of gratitude which emerges from healthy relationships between people, and from the beauty which Yoga has brought to our lives. Like a home which can’t help but spread love, like the sun which can’t help but offer light and spread warmth, without asking for anything in return.”
Santa Monica, CA
“One of the greatest gifts is for any human being to have a safe place to explore, experiment, learn, grow and thrive. I’m so grateful to represent Yoga Gives Back because it provides the opportunity for young girls and boys to get an education that would otherwise not be available to them and it funds local entrepreneurship, the natural extension of that educational arc of empowerment and self-worth. This allows people to “see” beyond their current circumstances to a present and future where they can be energized, self-sustaining and vital parts of their families and communities.”
Adam Hocke Yoga
Adam is a teacher, writer, and mentor empowering his students’ yoga practice and self-care.Through a unique blend of vinyasa flow and restorative yoga, he offers anatomically precise, strong, and accessible classes to physically awaken and renew the body and mind. His podcast is listened to in 135 countries and his streaming video classes are available at Movement for Modern Life. Adam is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and Om Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine. He leads teacher trainings, intensives, and conference sessions developing and inspiring the next generation of yoga practitioners and educators.
The Yoga and Movement Sanctuary
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.
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
“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! “
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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. “
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.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
Harmony Slater has been teaching yoga for almost 20 years. After completing two degrees in Philosophy and Eastern Religion, she made her first trip to Mysore, India, to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. She spent the following five years living in Asia, with long periods dedicated to practice and exploration in Mysore.
Harmony lives in Calgary AB, where she resides with her son. She has visited India on 18 separate occasions, and continues to return regularly to deepen and enrich her own practice of yoga. She has spent time expanding her knowledge of yoga under the attentive guidance of R. Sharath Jois, Sri O.P. Tiwari along with several other teachers of Philosophy and Sanskrit.
“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.”
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.”
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. “
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.”
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.”
ALESSANDRA DI PRAMPERO
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! “
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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. “
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.”
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.”
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.”
Musician and Yogi Amit Heri has traveled the world sharing his art, skill and life experiences with the purpose of bringing joy and connection between people.
His focus is on oneness and the process of integrating different realities – traditional/contemporary, Indian/Western, physical/spiritual etc.
He has performed with World music icons Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu, Salif Keita and Robert Miles at prestigious festivals including the Montreux Jazz festival, Berlin Jazz festival, WOMAD, London Jazz festival, Rome World Music festival and the Paris Jazz festival.
He is also an E-RYT 500, certified/authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher and teaches presently at studios in the Los Angeles area.
“Amit’s purpose of practicing and teaching yoga is to alleviate suffering experienced in the different realms of existence-material, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. YGB, with its outreach programs and financial assistance does just that, by helping create better conditions externally and internally for those who are less fortunate. YGB’s work is especially close to a Amit’s heart as it benefits many in his birthplace, India.”
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”.
“I believe that it is our sacred duty to show compassion to others. We all have a purpose in life and we all have something to give back and make a difference to ourworld. Yoga Gives Back reminds me to be thankful for our freedom of choice. I am happy to be able to support and raise awareness for a cause which is so close to my heart.”
Prior to becoming a yoga instructor, Jennifer received a masters degree in special and elementary education. After spending several years in the financial industry, she opened a specialty retail store catering to children and adults in the New York area. Eleven years went by and she is now teaching yoga in the beautiful mountains of Telluride, Colorado.
Jennifer received a certificate from Karma Kids in NYC to teach yoga to children. She then went on to a 200 hour certification and completed 500 hours of teacher training with Ohra Yoga and Wellness in Mount Kisco, New York.
There is no end to what can be learned through yoga. She is completely inspired and honored to study yoga techniques and meditation with esteemed physicians and continue to attend workshops with master teachers from around the world.
“I have suffered from arthritis since I was in my twenty’s and have had several knee surgeries due to a terrible ski accident. Yoga became a part of my life as I practiced to heal my body and mind. I was inspired by my teacher Michelle Briks, the owner of Ohra Wellness to take her 200 hour yoga training. Michelle felt that due to my injuries, etc, I would be the right person to teach and influence others. Before I knew it, I had completed my 500 hours and was teaching and encouraging others to treat all and any experience as a gift. It was then that I researched and found Yoga Gives back. Their mission to educate and care for orphan children and empower the women in India touched my heart. I will always be a student of yoga, but more importantly, I strive to be stronger, more flexible and mindful. It is through this organization that I am able to give back in a different way. I am extremely grateful to be inspired by so many well regarded practitioners and enjoy inspiring others to take this journey as well.”
Dana is an Authorized Level 2 Ashtanga Yoga Teacher, a classically trained Pilates Mat instructor and Restorative Yoga teacher.
She is continuously fascinated with the challenges and rewards the practice of yoga has been yielding since she first stepped on the mat in 2004. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Communications back in 2009 she completed a Registered Yoga Teacher Training and, beginning in 2011, has made annual month-long trips to Mysore, India, to study Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, philosophy and Sanskrit at the KPJAYI and to further her connection to the roots of the practice.
Since 2013, she has taught daily Mysore Ashtanga classes at Land Yoga in New York City. She also currently teaches at New York Yoga and Pilates on the Square, and is a published poet featured in the Poetry of Yoga. Dana’s travels have led her to teach classes and workshops in Florida, California, Israel and Costa Rica.
“India holds such a dear place in my heart, it has become almost like a second home after several years of traveling and studying yoga there. It always strikes me as a country of contrasts – beauty, devotion and peace mingle seamlessly with poverty and suffering. I’m honored to join YGB as an ambassador to do my small part to give back and bring more peace and opportunity to those who might be suffering in India. I immediately loved the concept of YGB – that for the price of a single yoga class we can made a difference, especially in the life of a woman or child in India.”
Stewart is known throughout London for his popular, innovative, authentic dynamic classes. He infuses his high energy and challenging teachings with yogic knowledge, as well as his unique charisma, politics and humour. His classes include an emphasis on breath, vinyasa and philosophy with strong physical adjustments. Stewart applies the original teachings of yoga to the modern world to create a thought-provoking class.
Having trained in astanga and as a Jivamukti teacher Stewart’s spiritual journey led him to train all over the world with teachers who have had a profound effect on his unique style of teaching.
He offers his eternal gratitude to all his teachers: Sabel Thaim, Jennifer Dale, Hamish, David Life, Sharon Gannon, Swami Niramalanda and Sri K Patthabi Jois.
Jeff Lichty is an avid adventurer and thoughtful seeker of truth and wisdom. Sixteen years as a critical care paramedic along with his pre-existing existential inclinations led him to the practice of Ashtanga Yoga and the direct study with Sri K Pattabhi Jois and Sri R Sharath Jois. He has traveled to India over 17 times to study directly with the masters of Ashtanga Yoga. Authorized to teach the practice by Guruji and Sharath in 2006, Jeff has been teaching Ashtanga Yoga full-time in Canada and internationally. The Calgary Ashtanga Yoga School provides a space for a thriving community of practitioners, and Jeff continues to infuse the city with the dynamic & practical teachings of Ashtanga Yoga. He has a real talent for expanding the ordinary definitions of yoga beyond the reach of our current body centric-culture and revealing how these practices powerfully penetrate into all areas of life .
“I’m extremely excited to be involved with YGB. My first trip to India was in 1993 where I volunteered with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, the extent of the poverty impacted me immediately, and there seemed no great solution. 18 trips later, YGB has hit on the quintessential solution. Empower Women! I believe in this venture and think the impact will snowball creating a positive effect on many lives.”
Beate started to practice Yoga in 2005 but it was not until meeting Cheri Rae, owner of Peace Yoga Gallery in Downtown Los Angeles in 2011, when something really shifted inside of her. Yoga became her true passion and purpose in life. After many years of owning a successful business in the fashion industry, she felt the call to slow down …Yoga opened the door to leading a much more wholesome way of living and started the inquiry within. A complete transformation occurred in the years that followed in every aspect of her life. She decided to sign up for her first Teacher Training with Annie Carpenter in 2013 and in the following year she took her first trip to India to study at a remote Ashram north of Rishikesh as well as a trip to Vridavan. Beate studied with well-known teachers, Annie Carpenter (Smart Flow) & Govind Das, founder of Bhakti Yoga Shala (Bhakti Yoga) as well as a team of amazing teachers at Core Power Yoga (Hot Vinyasa Power Yoga) and received RYT 200-hour certifications from all three studios. Beate fully embraces all aspects of a Yogic life style with daily Asana, Pranayama and Meditation practice, chanting, kirtan, vegan life style and Seva. Beate teaches a strong Vinyasa flow with an emphasis on the devotional aspect of Yoga as a scientific system of well being, following the eight-limbed path by Patañjali, with the ultimate goal of Self-realization and Happiness.
“India has a very special place in my heart ever since I started the transformational practice of Yoga. Both the culture and the people are so beautiful and familiar to me it’s almost like I have lived there in a previous lifetime. During my month long visit to India in 2015 I was welcomed with open hearts by everyone, which touched me deeply. Yet I saw with my own eyes how rich this country is and at the same time still struggles with poverty and inequality towards women so when I discovered YGB I felt the call to get involved, first by becoming a supporter attending their annual big Fundraisers and now that I teach Yoga full time by becoming an ambassador.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
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.”
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.”
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. “
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. “
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”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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. “
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.”
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. “
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. “
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.”
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!”
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. “
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.”
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.”
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!”
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.”
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!”
ELIZABETH R. SITZLER
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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. “
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.”
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.”
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.”
GWEN TAN WYNNE
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.”
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. “
“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.”
“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!”
ISABELLE DU SOLEIL
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.
“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.”
“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. “
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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! “
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. “
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. “
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.”
HALI REID MCQUILLAN
“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.”
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