Whole Living Daily

A Calendar that Gives Back: Yoga off the Mat

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Here I am with 16 year-old Megha, who I've sponsored since 2008.

As you might know, I have a deep love for India. In fact, I never imagined how drastically a country could influence my life. My frequent visits over the years have inspired the most empowering realization: to never underestimate our ability to positively transform the world through small, tangible actions. Likewise, my experiences in India have reinforced my appreciation for all I have and all I can do. Therefore, I feel it my duty to give back to a place that has given me so much. It’s for this reason I’m so grateful to be an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back (YGB) (yogagivesback.org), a grassroots organization that helps destitute women and children throughout India build sustainable lives.

After an unprecedented year of fundraising in 2011, YGB is already gearing up for the New Year. One way we’re doing so is through the sales of 2012 calendars (yogagivesback.org/calendar.php) featuring YGB related photographs. The calendar not only includes portraits of women and girls from our partner organizations in India, where YGB sends funds directly, but also YGB’s first, highly successful global fundraiser, “Thank You Mother India Day.” The event, which had more than 750 participants from 10 countries, raised about $27,500! More than $35,000 was raised throughout 2011. The organization’s growth has been inspiring! YGB raised about $26,000 more in 2011 than 2010.

The calendar cover is of 16-year-old Vinutha in the Deenabandhu Garden.

Where do our growing funds go? It has secured the second year of YGB’s “Sister Aid” direct funding for 56 women and children through two successful Indian NGO partners, NISHTHA in West Bengal and Deenabandhu Trust (deenabandhutrust.org) in Karnataka. We are also financing Grameen-Koota micro-loan recipient Jayashree’s son’s medical education in Bangalore. The number of fund recipients will more than double in 2012.

5-year-old Gayathri is sponsored by YGB.

I am particularly close with Deenabandhu Trust Children’s Home, as I’ve been visiting regularly since 2006. It was an honor to bring YGB founder Kayoko Mitsumatsu and team members Steven Woodruff, Jason Chang, and Anand Varadaraj there last November. To read about my most recent 2011 trip and YGB’s new work there, please read this blog (wholelivingdaily.wholeliving.com/2011/10/an-important-place-in-india-and-the-world-yoga-off-the-mat.html).

Purchase YGB calendars and find out much more about Yoga Gives Back, including other ways to help in the New Year, by visiting www.YogaGivesBack.org. Thank you for helping improve the lives of others!

Inside the calendar

Yoga brings stability and calm into every discipline of Sophie Herbert's life. She is an alignment focused yoga teacher (and perpetual student) and a Whole Living contributing editor. She graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art, where she nurtured her passion for documentary photography. It was during this time that she began her disciplined and diverse study of yoga in New York, Paris, and India.

Sophie has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India. She feels grateful to still visit and work regularly with the Deenabandhu Children's Home in Chamarajanagar, Karnataka. In November of 2010, she became an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back www.yogagivesback.org, a grass-roots nonprofit that helps destitute women and girls in India build more sustainable lives. Sophie has also shared her knowledge of yoga at the Prana Yoga Center in Astana, Kazakhstan. Currently, she teaches at the Park Slope Yoga Center www.parkslopeyoga.com in Brooklyn and privately. Sophie is also an avid cook.

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