In the past decade, the ancient practice of yoga has made its way into mainstream Western wellbeing culture in a major way. There are dozens of yoga studios in every major city, classes in gyms, workplace groups and countless private teachers available for hire. As well as burning calories and strengthening the body, the practice has been found to enhance positive moods, focus the mind and increase energy levels. The following four organizations are strong believers in the transformative power of yoga – and want to make sure the practice is accessible to those who need it most.
1. YOGA FOR YOUTH
WHO: RISE Yoga for Youth
WHAT: The dedicated team of professionals at RISE use yoga to give youths the tools they need to be agents of change. Working with schools and youth organizations in the San Francisco Bay area, the program focuses on physical exercise and breath work, encouraging teenagers to lead happier and healthier lives. As well as positive health benefits, the program has proven to help reduce stress levels, improve academic achievements and even increase school attendance rates among participants.
2. YOGA FOR ABUSE SURVIVORS
WHO: Exhale to Inhale
WHAT: Founded by dedicated yogi Zoë LePage, Exhale to Inhale empowers women who have experienced intimate partner violence and sexual assault to heal and reclaim their lives. This important initiative has strong support from within the yoga community, and is guided by professionals with experience working with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. Exhale to Inhale provides free weekly yoga classes at community centers and domestic violence shelters throughout New York City, the Hudson Valley, Long Island and Connecticut.
3. YOGA FOR KENYANS
WHO: Africa Yoga Project
WHAT: These days, Kenya is blossoming with yogis – thanks to the Africa Yoga Project, which uses yoga as a vehicle to empower youth, educate on HIV/AIDS and provide young Kenyans with a livelihood as yoga instructors. This transformative initiative has been spreading the wellness benefits of yoga to rural villages, prisons, deaf schools and special needs centers for the past eight years.
4. YOGA FOR EVERYONE
WHO: Give Back Yoga Foundation
WHAT: The Give Back Yoga Foundation supports and funds certified yoga teachers of all traditions to bring yoga and mindfulness techniques to underserved and under-resourced segments of the community. The organization runs projects such as bringing yoga to prisons across the US, developing programs for veterans to use yoga to cope with PTSD, and the “Thrive Tribes” groups that use yoga to help members overcome body image issues. Give Back Yoga aims to bring yoga to people who may not otherwise have discovered its benefits – offering a great way to de-stress and exercise during times when participants can’t necessarily afford an expensive yoga studio.
This article originally appeared on Goodnet.org and is republished here with permission.