While yoga classes nowadays are filled with language about giving, having compassion and being kind, generosity and practicing yoga have gone steady for thousands of years. Dãna, a Sanskrit word that translates to generosity or charitable giving, can be traced back to ancient Vedic tradition and refers to things as immediate as helping an individual in need to things as big picture as philanthropic giving to projects that help millions of people in need.
What better way to practice service, dãna, and compassion this holiday season than to give back to an amazing yoga nonprofit organization. In 2012 individuals (as opposed to businesses) made up 72% of the charitable contributions received by nonprofits in the US, and a majority of those donations came in December. Many organizations rely on these end-of-year gifts to support themselves for the following year.
Take a look at the ten amazing yoga organizations below. You just might find the perfect organization to support with your holiday generosity.
Africa Yoga Project
This organization works primarily with communities in Kenya and East Africa to share the teachings of yoga. They train youth as yoga teachers so they can earn a living wage and become self-sustaining leaders in their communities. They use performing arts to empower members of the community and encourage community activism. It all started in 2007, and now they have over 6,000 people participating in their weekly yoga classes.
Bent On Learning
Thanks to Bent On Learning, every week volunteer teachers teach yoga to inner city public school children in New York City. Founded in 2001, Bent On Learning has introduced yoga to over 12,000 NYC public school children. Bent On Learning provides the mats and teachers. The staff is dedicated to helping children learn how to integrate what they learn in yoga into their daily lives.
Off the Mat Into the World
Arguably one of the most well-known yoga organizations, Off the Mat Into the World has been using yoga as a tool to inspire activism since 2007. By inspiring the yoga community to take action, they are working to empower individuals around the world, increase social awareness, and encourage collaboration within communities. Their work goes beyond the mat and includes urging people to vote, raising over $3.4 million for humanitarian relief, and more. They have initiated more than 100 ongoing service projects and created over 200 local community action groups.
Prison Yoga Project
Their mission is to help rehabilitate prisoners. Their method is yoga. Prison Yoga Project started at San Quentin State Prison in 2002. Since then, they have helped hundreds of prisoners. They now train yoga instructors in trauma-sensitive yoga, create instructional materials, teach yoga classes in prisons across the country, research the impact of yoga in prison, support released prisoners, and more.
The Art of Yoga Project
Through using yoga and creative art, The Art of Yoga Project helps at-risk and sexually exploited girls by giving them the tools to create a better future for themselves and their community. They have been working with the California juvenile justice system since 2003 to bring trauma-informed and gender-responsive services to teenage girls. Every year, The Art of Yoga Projects directly serves about 500 girls.
There & Back Again
This organization, founded in 2007, is helping veterans of all conflicts reintegrate and adjust to life after war. There & Back Again offers yoga classes, Reiki, acupuncture, meditation, and more to veterans. While they are based out of Massachusetts, they provide their services wherever is needed. They provide professional training for teaching yoga in military settings to give teachers the tools to lead yoga classes for active duty service members, veterans, family members, and caregivers.
Yoga Across America
The mission of this organization is simple: Yoga for everyone, everywhere. And that is exactly what they do. They teach a wide range of yoga styles in schools, military bases, parks, homeless shelters, children’s hospitals, low-income communities, and the likes. It all started with a free class in a park in 2009 and has gone on to bring yoga to over 10,000 individuals. Wherever yoga is not, Yoga Across America is working to bring it.
Designed with women in mind, yogaHOPE’s Trauma Informed Mind Body Program addresses the impact that stress and trauma have on both the mind and the body. They were founded in 2006 and work with women around the world who have experienced chronic trauma, addiction, trauma, and abuse. Through their unique program, they hope to help these women become leaders and agents of change.
Give Back Yoga
This national nonprofit is dedicated to making yoga available to everyone. They started in 2007 and now provide support and funding to certified yoga teachers wishing to offer yoga to under-served communities. Give Back Yoga has four service programs designed to help veterans, prisoners, those in addiction recovery, and those overcoming eating disorders.
We have all experienced the transformative power of yoga. These organizations are trying to use this power to make the world a better place. Your generous donation will help them achieve remarkable change in our global society.