Yoga meets the Non-Profit By-Donation model.
Since leaving the role of "teacher at a yoga studio" and entering the realm of service to the underserved, I have had a sober awakening. I've discovered how many people living among us, and our countries abundance of yoga studios and centers, have no access to these practices. As a long time teacher I am guilty of the crime of assumption. Assuming that with the massive increase in yoga culture in the US, there must also have been an enormous surge in providing yoga and meditation to the marginalized. As we began to act on our mission of making practice accessible to all, it became very clear very quickly that "trickle down yoga" is as effective as "trickle down economics". Access to practice was in most cases stalling around a particular socio-economic line in the sand.
Empowering the yoga community to close the gap
The question was who should we look to to provide the resources needed to get practice to these people in a sustainable way? The answer that came into focus was "the yoga and meditation community itself". Yoga and meditation practitioners are people who dedicate their energy and their actions to realizing that we are all one, interconnected and divine. The student and teacher friends I've met have all earnestly wanted others to benefit from the practice that means so much to them. What would happen if we made it possible for any student to, with the cost and the energy of their practice, give the benefits of yoga and meditation to others less fortunate in a very real way?
Non-Profit By-Donation Yoga and Meditation
Yoga to the People, a studio that opened in Lower Manhattan offering By-Donation Yoga classes, is an example of what happens when a community is created outside of the financial boundaries we mostly live within. They're a thriving business with studios in many major cities providing practice without a set price tag. We sought to create a Non-Profit version of this by-donation model, where the profits raised from the by-donation classes would be used to "close the gap" and provide sustainable yoga and meditation to our countries underserved. We would "Pop-Up" to allow the practice and experience to move from community to community.
A redistribution of practice
The recipe for our first ever experiment in socialist yoga!
1. Find a business that believes in our mission and would rent us a space at a discount so that we could raise the most profits possible. Shout out to the Blue Moon Project's owners Michelle and Helen!
2. Gather amazing and compassionate yoga and meditation teachers that would volunteer their time to help us raise the funds needed to act on our mission.
3. Spread the word that for 10 weeks, anyone can come and practice as a community, donating as little or as much as they could.
4. Use the profits raised to hire specialized yoga and meditation teachers to provide practice to the underserved and most vulnerable among us.
what happens next?
We don't know! That's the fun of an experiment, right? But with all honesty, we don't know. We're creating the framework for the community, and what the community does within that only time will tell. I do know what I hope will happen. I hope that for 10 weeks there will be long time practitioners sharing the space with their neighbors who had always assumed yoga was out of their reach. I hope that we see diversity of skin color, of language and of experience. I hope we will raise enough money to set into motion many of the outreach projects we have waiting for funding. I hope we will all be able to practice the meaning of, Namaste "the divine that is within me recognizes the same divine flicker in you".
Join us at our Non-Profit By-Donation Yoga and Meditation Pop-Up Studio!