Community, Unity, Impact | Yoga Alliance Foundation
We believe in yoga’s ability to bring people together and elevate our universal well-being. We also believe in a global yoga community representative of all—where everyone can see and find themselves in yoga and wellness spaces that support every unique lived experience and need.
In reflecting on the past two years, the serious impacts of the worldwide health crisis, ongoing social injustices, and shift in the professional yoga landscape have left many living in a “new normal” that feels anything but normal. During this time, the Yoga Alliance Foundation has been working hand in hand with yoga educators and students, community donors, and socially conscious organizations to respond to the yoga community’s most timely and urgent needs.
Here, we celebrate your generosity, energy, and innovative resilience. Thanks to your support and commitment, so many teachers in the yoga community were able to navigate this challenging time with the support they needed—thank you.
You helped make the following possible:
Emergency Relief Fund (ERF)
At its onset in March 2020, COVID-19 forced much of the world to shut down, including yoga and fitness studios. Immediately, we heard how many yoga professionals were facing new and extreme financial hardship.
The Foundation began its response by contributing $75,000 to the Reclamation Ventures Wellness Relief Fund—a program providing monetary assistance to U.S.-based yoga professionals experiencing pandemic-induced financial need. At the same time, it partnered with the global non-profit Ivy Child International to introduce an Emergency Relief Fund designed to offer swift financial support to yoga professionals with serious monetary need all over the world. In total, the fund provided $425,000, supporting 85% of applicants and serving 430+ individuals from 31 countries.
Most importantly, fund recipients continued to spread yoga’s healing benefits during a time when the practice was so desperately needed.
India COVID-19 Relief
In the months leading up to International Day of Yoga 2021, India—one of yoga’s richest homelands—was in the throes of a serious spike of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
In honor of International Day of Yoga, the Foundation led a Matching Donation Campaign galvanizing the yoga community and public to contribute to on-the-ground efforts helping India in COVID-19 recovery.
Thanks to the generosity of many, the Foundation was able to match a combined community donation of $8,304, yielding a total of over $16,000 USD. In addition, the Foundation donated another $15,000, providing a total of nearly $32,000 to three COVID-19 response organizations with grassroot ties in India—Khalsa Aid International, Goonj, and Ivy Child International.
While the impacts of these organizations are still growing, here’s an overview of some of the ways their work has made a difference:
- Over 1,260,000 masks distributed
- 1000+ micro recovery grants provided to vulnerable families in critical need
- 377,500+ ready meals distributed across rural and urban India
- 550+ Partner Organizations reached
- 12,300,000 kgs rations and essentials gathered
- Multilingual educational resources provided for prevention management and wellness strategies
Awakening Yoga Spaces Grant
Awakening Yoga Spaces (AYS) is a collaborative coalition of yoga and wellness communities, founded by PIES Fitness Yoga Studio in Alexandria, VA and Sun & Moon Yoga Studio in Arlington, VA. The coalition’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the yoga world is in direct alignment with the Foundation’s goals of fostering greater representation in the practice and profession of yoga; and its primary focus is to make yoga teacher trainings more accessible to members of the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community facing financial barriers to training opportunities.
This year, the Foundation was honored to award a $25,000 grant supporting 16 scholarships for BIPOC trainees in yoga teacher and yoga therapy programs at five of the many participating coalition studios, all of which are actively engaged in equity work in service of evolving the yoga culture within their respective communities. Through this effort, more students of various backgrounds and lived experiences gain access to teacher training, ultimately supporting a more diverse and inclusive yogic landscape.
Breathe for Justice—Yoga and Mindfulness Youth Training
Research shows that yoga instruction and mindfulness practices can promote young adults' physical and emotional health, while supporting their academic success. Armed with this knowledge and a deep belief in the power of yoga for young adults, the Foundation financially contributed $100,000 to Breathe for Justice—a Youth Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher Training Program, led by Ivy Child International.
This program is geared towards Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) high school students facing household or financial instability, discrimination, and marginalization. It includes 200 hours of yoga and mindfulness yoga teacher training plus a year-long apprenticeship and mentor program, preparing participants to be culturally sensitive change agents in communities struggling with a history of systemic oppression.
Teaching for Equity (TFE)
Teaching for Equity (TFE) is an ongoing initiative supporting yoga teachers worldwide who serve for little or no pay in communities experiencing marginalization.
Launching in February 2021, the first TFE program awarded 25 yoga teachers from seven different countries (U.S. and Puerto Rico, Canada, Colombia, Peru, Lebanon, India, Kenya) with financial and business support. Participants received stipends to teach 10 free yoga classes in their communities, fundraising and marketing education via online workshops, and media promotion and publicity opportunities.
TFE Teachers create meaningful, lasting, and positive impacts by bringing their communities together and fostering individual and communal health. And, thanks to the foundation laid by inaugural participants, TFE is now a pillar of Foundation programming. In 2022, TFE expands in both its funds and number of participants, supporting 50 teachers worldwide in providing, maintaining, and fostering healing through yoga.
The Teaching for Equity program is funded and directed by the Yoga Alliance Foundation with Ivy Child International and Synergy Yoga as implementing partners.
NEW in 2022—Mental Health Support & Eka Well-Being Service
In engaging with yoga communities around the world, the Foundation has heard how yoga professionals’ gift of holding space for others is often leading to elevated levels of emotional exhaustion and burn-out. This makes it difficult for many yoga professionals to combat the trauma and fatigue they often experience as community caregivers, especially for leaders experiencing marginalization. It is also one example of where the Foundation can provide ongoing support outside of making monetary contributions.
As a part of the Foundation’s Eka Recovery Fund—inspired by the Sanskrit word eka, which celebrates unity, equality, and balance—we are working with Lytle to create Eka Well-Being Services. Lytle is part of the AllOne Health Family of Assistance Programs who work to break down barriers between physical and mental health through occupational health and employee assistance program (EAP) services.
Eka Well-Being Services will offer one year of free holistic mental health and well-being support for yoga professionals facing barriers to these important services. Enrollment will open on a limited basis to 200 participants in January 2022. Additional information, including eligibility requirements and application details will be shared in the coming weeks.
All of the above became possible through this community’s support. And still, there is so much more to be done.
Learn more about the Foundation’s continued work, including the launch of a forthcoming mental health program called Eka Well-being Services, by visiting the Foundation webpage.