"Yoga" as most of us understand it in the west is a form of exercise but that is just a part of what yoga really is. In fact there are four different paths of yoga and you can be a yogi without doing any exercise at all!
One of these paths is Karma Yoga - selfless service to others through action, the giving of your time and skills to help others without wanting or expecting reward. Gathering "good karma" is a complicated process which I'm not going to attempt to explain here. Suffice to say that most belief systems and ancient philosophies (including "yoga") encourage selfless service so giving time and money to others is integral to the yoga ethos.
This Sunday we can't use our usual venue so rather than cancelling the class I've decided to open my house and garden for charity and a bit of karma yoga. It's up to individuals which charity they choose to support and how much they donate. I'm leaving that completely up to attendees. I won't be taking any money myself, the links are here for people to use or they can give money to a cause of their own choosing.
I suggest £10 as a starting point since that would be the usual cost for a 75 minute Sunday class of Stretch and Flow Yoga. The charity yoga session will be slightly different as I'm opening my house for two hours (120 minutes) to allow for social time, chat and tea before and afterwards. Workshops are usually priced from £25 upwards.
I've put together a list of charities which I believe align with Body and Soul Yoga values. Let me know what you think. Which one resonates most with you? While they all have a connection with yoga I've chosen a cross section to give more choice.
The Prison Phoenix Trust
Having encountered former prisoners when I worked for Havering College I've seen for myself some of the many, many difficulties they face. I believe this is a really important charity introducing yoga and its benefits to people (mostly men but also women) who are often struggling both physically and mentally. Just £10 will reach up to five prisoners, giving them support and hope through yoga related resources and newsletters.
Yoga Stops Traffick
I met (and was very impressed by) the people behind this charity at the Om Yoga Show last year. It is small so the money goes direct to the people who need it rather than on corporate branding. They work with trafficked youngsters in India through an ashram (centre) called Adventure Ashram which provides vocational and life skills to prevent them falling back into the hands of traffickers. Boys as well as girls are supported in this way. I personally feel that boys are often overlooked by popular charities so I was encouraged that this charity recognises their needs too. £10 will buy one person food for a month at the ashram.
Forests for Peace
This is a Dru project planting a forest for the benefit of the environment. I supported this charity last year at the Raphael/Crem Kitchen event. £8 plants one tree and you get a personalised certificate with a dedication of your choice.
Thames Chase Forest Centre
You may know that I teach Monday lunchtimes (12.15 to 1.30pm) in the Education Room at Thames Chase (Pike Lane, Upminster) but did you know that the Forest Centre is maintained by a charity for the benefit of us all? It isn't supported by the council and relies on donations and income from the centre. As well as the historic barns, which the Education Room is part of, the charity maintains the forest which includes nature walks and pathways. Your donation will enable them to continue their important work.
Which of these charities resonates with you the most and why? Please let me know.
I'm sure there are many other worthy charities we could support. Do let me know if you'd like to suggest another charity and I'll add it to the list. It doesn't have to be directly connected with yoga because "everything" IS yoga!