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Community Event | Yoga In Times of Global Crisis

April 21, 2022, 10am ET


About This Workshop

From the wars in Ukraine and Tigray and the ongoing refugee crises in Syria and Afghanistan, people around the world are experiencing unprecedented times. As yoga teachers, it can often feel overwhelming to know where or how to lend your support. And, when it comes to taking your seat as a yoga teacher, it may feel daunting to guide students in their own practices. Hear from leaders in the yoga community and global activists as they share their perspectives on current crises, how yoga teachers can find their seat in these watershed moments, and the role that yoga can play in supporting humanity during these times.


Supporting Documents

Event Links (PDF)
Transcript (PDF)


About the Presenters

Fakhria Ibrahimi Momtaz is the founder of the only yoga center in Afghanistan. The Momtaz Yoga Center opened in 2017 and provides yoga and welfare services for women, including a beauty salon, restaurant, and kindergarten. The center is a place for women in Afghanistan to feel secure, safe, and comfortable.

Fakhria has been practicing aspects of yoga since she was a child, but was formally introduced to the practice ten years ago. She began yoga training for Afghan women in 2015.

Meritxell Martorell is a yoga teacher, journalist and traveler. After traveling around the world and working as a freelance journalist in different countries, in 2011 she discovered the practice of yoga. This discipline helped her to find some peace and balance in her busy life and multiple trips. Her first yoga training was in 2012 in South India (200h Ashtanga TTC). She continued studying and doing various workshops in different parts of the world and she began teaching yoga sporadically in Spain while combining her career as a journalist. After a new training of 300 hours in India she traveled to the biggest refugee camp in Lesvos (Greece) as a journalist to cover the refugee crisis. She decided that she wanted to come back to Lesvos not as a journalist but as a yoga teacher, because she truly believes that yoga is a therapeutic and healing tool. This is how Yoga Sin Fronteras was officially born.

Since then, and after 60 countries visited, Meritxell has studied almost 1000 hours of yoga and has taught at different schools around the world and with different groups. She has worked as a yoga teacher with refugees, abused women and children. Yoga is for her a practice that should reach anyone, especially the most vulnerable groups.

Juanita Rilling is the former Director of the US Agency for International Development's Center for International Disaster Information (USAID CIDI), and her career includes more than 35 years on senior staffs in the U.S. Senate and in USAID/BHA.

In the U.S. Senate, Ms. Rilling served for 13 years on the professional staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she co-authored the Foreign Operations Subcommittee bills and reports and shepherded them into law. Ms. Rilling left the Senate to serve USAID/BHA as a disaster operations specialist before returning to the Senate to direct staff and programs under the Senate Sergeant at Arms. Ms. Rilling served on many Response Management Teams within USAID/BHA, earning awards for work on the Gujarat Earthquake, the Kosovo war, the Southern Africa Floods, the El Nino Working Group and the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa. Public information campaigns initiated by Ms. Rilling at CIDI concerning the best public support for domestic and international disaster relief efforts attracted an estimated billion views on traditional and social media between 2013 and 2016.

Ms. Rilling is a competitive rower and has won more than 70 medals in local, national, and international regattas. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor's degree in English Literature.


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