On Saturday April 11th, the Sherman Oaks yoga community banded together for a yoga fundraiser held at Black Dog Yoga
benefiting Yoga Gives Back, a Los Angeles organization that raises money and awareness of micro loans in India, the birthplace of yoga.
Micro loans are small amounts of money, sometimes as little as $25, and are invested in people, mostly women, who suffer from extreme poverty. Kicking off the workshop/fundraiser, Joel Bender, one of the founders of Yoga Gives Back, explained how Yoga Gives Back started and how the loans, about the cost of two yoga classes, make an enormous impact on peoples’ lives by helping them start, sustain and grow their small businesses.
In 2006 Dr. Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economics professor, won the Nobel Peace Prize
for his revolutionary work in microfinance through the Grameen Bank, a bank he founded to administer the loans. Yunus is changing the face of the poor by making them credit worthy. Generally, it takes money to make money. In order to get a loan, one has to put up collateral. Impoverished people usually don’t have any collateral, thereby increasing poverty’s vicious cycle.
If a woman wants to invest in a rickshaw her husband drives, or invest in a sewing machine, or parts for the sewing machine, they might need $20 or $40. When a bank doesn’t entertain their business needs they will go to a lender of last resorts. Micro loans through the Grameen Bank
eliminate the security risks involved with these transactions. As the loan recipients repay the loans, they begin to take their first steps out of poverty.
Yoga Gives Back co-founder, Kayoko Mitsumatsu, a documentary filmmaker traveled in India and has interviewed Dr. Muhammad Yunus on various occasions. Seeing the immense poverty after a beautiful yoga practice, Kayoko said she “felt a strong obligation to give back to the country that has given her the love of yoga.” She hopes that the Western yoga community will donate their time, money and passion to help the Yoga Gives Back cause.
Black Dog Yoga owner, Peter Barnett, who helped organize the event, galvanized not only an incredible group of teachers but also the yoga community for a workshop filled with asana,
amazing Indian music, sweat and laughter. Over 30 students donated their time and money to support this cause. A talented group of 10 teachers taught the three-hour yoga fundraiser in fifteen-minute increments, each volunteering their time and their own perspective into how with yoga we can effectuate change. The event wrapped up with a raffle of yoga gear and good food.
To hear about more upcoming workshop fundraisers visit yogagivesback.com.