The story about shelter cats in the Boston yoga studio Yoga at Connie’s got us thinking about how many yogis out there must be involved in all sorts of charitable work. So, we started digging.
Turns out it’s not hard at all to find scores and scores of yoga teachers, and their students, doing way more than assuming seemingly impossible asanas. Here’s a list of just 20 of those yoga studios, both close to home and yonder, doing some really inspirational work.
JAI Yoga Studio
Located in the Chicago suburb of Palatine, the JAI Yoga Studio, which made our list of 101 yoga studios in Chicagoland, is a donation center for the nonprofit organization called Palatine Assisting Through Hope, or PATH. It was 2007 when area residents Rich Tyack, Andy Konopka and Debbie Rohrwasser started PATH, helping just one child in need. In last year’s Annual Day of Giving Event, PATH was able to provide warm clothing to 787 individuals, as well as 56 refurbished bikes donated by local store Mike’s Bike Shop.
Fall River Yoga
Located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Fall River Yoga studio was inspired by Yoga at Connie’s work with rescue cats and participated in a similar charity event called U-Cat-Asana, which was held in partnership with a local group called the Sympathetic Ear Animal Rescue Society.
The Little Volcano Yoga Studio
In Asheville, North Carolina, Rosie and Killian Volcano of The Little Volcano held their first cat yoga class this summer. Benefiting a local no-kill animal rescue, Brother Wolf, the event not only raised money for the charity but saw the adoption of a 10-month-old orange tabby.
Invoke Yoga Studio
It’s gone to the dogs in Indianapolis. At least it did for an hour last spring when Invoke Studio held a “doga” class (that’s yoga with your dog). The proceeds were to benefit FACE, a local low-cost spay/neuter clinic.
Ganesha Yoga Chicago
Ganesha, in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, has been collecting gently used mats, cleaning them, and then either directly donates them to places like Sacred Heart Home of Methodist Hospital to help bring yoga to more patients, or donates funds raised from mat sales to places like the National Runaway Safeline.
Since the Modo/Moksha International community of studios started holding Karma Classes in 2007, they have donated over $2,700,000 worldwide to various causes. One example is Modo Yoga Seattle, which holds fundraisers for a different charity each month via the studio’s $5 Karma Yoga Fridays. All funds raised at these classes are donated to that month’s chosen charity. In September, donations were in support of Provail’s “Step-tember” fitness program for people with disabilities.
Yoga 4 Love
Lisa and Richard Ware, the owners of Yoga 4 Love in Dallas, have a page on their studio’s website called Yoga 4 Charity. It details the studio’s most recent fundraisers, which in August 2015 supported the Tri-City Animal Shelter and Adoption Center. Joining up with the City of Cedar Hill, Lisa donated some warm-up stretching exercises prior to a 3K dog jog, by way of a doga class.
Last spring, a donation flow yoga program was held at Power Yoga, a studio in Columbus, Ohio. Led by clinical psychologist Morgan Hembree, who is also a yoga instructor, the event benefited the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Balanced Yoga held another benefit during 2015’s final yoga-in-the-park class. That class raised funds for a Columbus nonprofit, Local Matters, which is working to transform the food system through education and increasing access to fresh and local food.
The Yoga Room
From its two studios in New York (Astoria and Long Island City), The Yoga Room has held charity classes to raise funds for foundations that include
- The Smile Train, which provides free cleft lip and palate surgery for children in developing countries;
- Housing and Services, which help low-income and special-needs New Yorkers find homes; and
- Animal Haven, a pet rescue and adoption center in New York.
Every year, Columbus, Ohio’s PAI Yoga has a Yogathon with four special donation classes available. This is a spring fundraiser for the Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, and the event was held this year at the studio’s new Gahanna/New Albany location.
Although it’s not a fundraiser, you could view PAI’s Post-Thanksgiving Detox class, which is a two-hour heated Power Flow, as a sort of charitable gesture. This special class guarantees to clear away the leftovers of both food and emotion most of us tend to experience at that time of year.
This Ohio studio with four locations does yearly fundraising in support of cancer research. There was an all-levels flow yoga session this summer held in front of the James Cancer Center in addition to one at the Go Yoga studio in Upper Arlington. In addition, many of the yoga instructors at Go Yoga participate in the related Pelotonia ride fundraiser.
There was a month-long benefit at Afterglow Yoga in Wailuku, Hawaii, this September for National Yoga Month. The benefits is a 30-day Yoga Challenge in which members of Afterglow would take as many of these free classes as they wished, getting sponsored by friends and family members for each one (and winning prizes for themselves as an extra incentive).
The money raised went to benefit the Pacific Cancer Foundation.
Yoga at the Yard
Alyson Sullivan, who opened the Yoga At The Yard Studio in Grandview, Ohio, in spring 2015, is already involved in community charities. This summer’s cause, called the “Summer Six Pack Challenge,” was a collection of food and men’s toiletries for The Open Shelter in Columbus.
Body Mind Core
Carmel, Indiana, studio Body Mind Core took part in several charity events this past year. Once a month throughout the summer, its instructors offered free yoga and pilates classes as part of the local Fit Livin’ Community Event. And in June, BMC hosted a donation-based class at the Head for the Cure 6k in support of the American Brain Tumor Association.
Liz Hahn, Director of Operations at Baltimore area studio Sid Yoga, took part in an annual event called “Bends, Brunch and Bubbly” in Washington, DC. Donations went to Blue Flowers, a nonprofit organization that supports prostate cancer research, awareness and early detection.
Kathyrn Budig, founder of Aim True and author of The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga, led a group yoga session this summer at in Charleston, South Carolina, as part of The Downward Facing River Dog event. That event raised money for Poses for Paws, a nonprofit organization that helps out numerous animal shelters and rescues.
Located in Hoboken, New Jersey, Devotion Yoga strives to be a relaxing safe haven where individuality, healthy living and the essence of yoga is celebrated. Devotion hosts several events throughout the year, some specifically to raise money for various charities. For example, there’s a charity event this fall called “Kale and Karma” held in partnership with National Kale Day. All proceeds raised from the day go to support True Mentors, a Hoboken organization that matches mentors to benefit children between the ages of 7 and 17.
For nearly 18 years, Living Yoga has been bringing the study and practice of yoga to kids, youth and adults in correctional facilities, drug treatment centers, and behavioral and mental health facilities in Portland, Oregon. The nonprofit outreach is supported by public donations, corporate sponsors and monthly fundraisers.
Give Back Yoga
Located in Boulder, Colorado, the Give Back Yoga Foundation is a national nonprofit that funds certified yoga teachers to teach underserved and under-resourced segments of the community. The programs include mindful yoga therapy for veterans and first responders as well as teaching yoga to incarcerated men and women. The teachers receive donations from the public, hold fundraising events, have corporate sponsors and sell yoga-related gear and material to raise money for the foundation.
Bent on Learning
Bringing yoga into public schools in New York, Bent on Learning has a mission to teach kids to be more focused, healthier, and happier in learning and in life. With regular instruction in yoga and meditation, they believe students can improve their physical fitness as well as their cognitive, social and emotional skills. The nonprofit solicits donations from the public to fund its work, which is now held in 16 schools across four boroughs. In the past 10 years, Bent on Learning has introduced yoga to 12,000 children.