Increasingly, specialized non-profits and service organizations are spreading the use of yoga and meditation in schools and underprivileged communities, what in yogic philosophy is known as seva. Here is a story from Canada:
Toronto StarYoga program teaches kids how to cope with stress at school and home
The goal isn’t really to teach kids about poses, explains New Leaf’s executive director Laura Sygrove, who co-founded the organization in 2007. Rather, it’s to teach them how to understand the connection between their emotions and what they feel in their bodies. New Leaf’s work is rooted in a growing body of research showing yoga and mindfulness can support young people who have experienced forms of trauma.
This service movement has grown so much that it has started coalescing in broader organizations. The Yoga Service Council is organizing its third conference for May14-17, 2015 at the Omega Institute. It has a really impressive list of founder and member organizations, as well as participating faculty (almost a Who’s Who of yogic leading edge thinkers in North America). The YSC has also brought out its first journal issue.
It’s not “news,” but it’s published in the New York Times:
New York Times – If the Sun Salutation Has to Fit Into a Cell The class was the fourth that Jim Freeman, a lawyer turned yogi and the founder of Conviction Yoga, has led at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Powledge Unit in East Texas. For the inmates, the weekly two-hour sessions offer a reprieve from their cells and the boredom of prison life, along with physical and mental health benefits. And the Powledge chaplain said corrections officers saw better behavior from inmates who took part in spiritual programs that gave them a chance to exercise.
Yoga and meditation are increasingly used in prison. Good for the inmates, and bravo to the teachers mentors who take the lead in going into prisons. Now if we could only get the justice system to work right so that we don’t have the highest percentage of imprisoned population in the world.
Kristin Adair and Christy Freer have asked me to mention their event next weekend, To Haiti With Love DC:
To Haiti With Love DC is a gathering of an incredible community of yogis, yoga teachers, and activists who have committed to raising funds and awareness for Haiti. We will come together on June 18 to engage in a powerful traditional practice of 108 sun salutations led by 12 different teachers from across the DC area. Each participating student will donate or raise at least $108 and all proceeds will go directly to support community-based organizations creating sustainable solutions in Haiti. The event will also feature live music from local band The Greater Good, inspiring speakers, donated snacks and beverages, and prizes for the top fundraisers.
Christy and I are collaborating in this effort with Off the Mat, Into the World through their Global Seva Challenge. We are both yogis, lawyers, and activists who have committed to taking our yoga practice off the mat and into our communities to inspire yogis to create positive change. If we reach our combined fundraising goal of $40,000 in 2011, we will travel to Haiti in 2012 to work with the organizations and projects these funds will support.
Their event will take place Saturday, June 18, from noon to 2:00 pm, at George Washington University, University Yard, 20th & H Street NW, Washington, DC (Metro: Foggy Bottom/GWU). You can also check out their Facebook page.