Yogi’s tend to be some of the most generous community I know. Whether it falls within the blanket of feel good, do good, or whether a yogic training and a deeper connection to living leads to a higher degree of sensitivity remains to be proven but I can offer my opinion that we as a whole feel a sense of peace and fulfillment that comes from practicing and giving the gift of teaching a yoga class to others. We understand that common experience extends to everyone in our world and feel a deep responsibility for the well being of all.
Sometimes when I consider what I will deem most meaningful when I reach the end of my life, I consider the events that will probably stick out. The obvious is my marriage, the birth of my kids, and friendships that I cultivated. Those of you who really know me very well understand the value I place in community. So many great things have happened in my life, in part because of the good company I keep. But I felt as though one thing was missing. An opportunity to step up and create something beautiful for a community that gave so much to me.
So on the way home from a yoga retreat with my friend and yogini collaborator Kristin, I had that light bulb moment. We brainstormed the whole trip on an idea to create a monthly yoga event that gave back to the community we both live and teach in.
I had heard about a similar project called The Gorilla Yogis and the buzz it was creating in The Minneapolis Community. A well-organized group of yogis had created monthly donation-only classes that brought in crowds of yogis all in touch with the collective power of doing good. Magic or karma was happening on a big scale in a non-studio. Thousands of dollars were being raised for community partners and yoga (the asanas and the theory) was made available to the masses.
Two other local yoginis agreed to partner with us. They (Amelia and Aveen) were in and excited to build a yoga project. Charged from the belief that the best were at my back I emailed Jes, a co-creator of The Gorilla Yogis. My approach was a request for advice in building a like-minded concept for my community. Why re-invent the wheel? But the gift received upon reply was again pretty incredible. She was generous with her words and shared her process.
Moving forward, we have launched our own donation-only project in Eau Claire, WI, called The Yoga Tree. Our first event will be held in a Children’s Museum on January 26 in Eau Claire, WI and everyone is invited. Establishing upon the idea that if you build it, they will come,we want to extend our branches of giving out into the community and raise money for local non-profits that also strengthen our environment. Like a tree, it will take time to establish roots and grow…but it also will impact in the most positive way.
Charging into 2013 the slate is clean and full of possibilities for all of us. Consider the research that suggests that giving is good for your heart. How’s that for Karma? A study from Cornell University determined that retirees who volunteered on environmental projects were half as likely as non-volunteers to struggle with depression 20 years later. Instead of back tracking with tired resolutions that suggest your life may be better if you just ate less chocolate, consider a the emotional power of a gift for the world. Give the best of yourself.