calmaraderie: yogis in service

About

questions for inquiry: how do we build community wellbeing? form lasting friendships in the yoga kula when classes are often a sacred, introvert-friendly no-talking zone? practice seva (selfless service)? 

From my perspective as a teacher, I see a lot of really strong yogis (and lots of beginners who are getting steadier and more open every week). And as a student myself, I don't really need another handstand clinic or heart-opening workshop. But we want to spend more time together, we want to bring our friends and families into out practice, we want to make like-minded friends, and we want to make a difference. How can we make a container for this part of a yoga practice? 

In the past year, I've tried to co-create opportunities for my students (and myself!) to practice service as a collective. The response has been overwhelmingly positive - so many of us crave connection and miss having an avenue for volunteering (work, school, church/synagogue) that we may have had earlier in our lives. Read on for details about upcoming events and past projects, and please be in touch at emily.star.yoga@gmail.com if you'd like to connect and talk through ways to bring this kind of practice into your community.


Upcoming Service Events

 

Sunday, May 27, 2018 (Memorial Day Weekend) / 2 - 4 p.m. / Box packing at Manna Food Center with Yoga Bliss Studios - Registration now open!

"You are here to serve, here to lift, here to grace, here to give hope and action, to give the very deep love of your soul to all those who are in need. " - Yogi Bhajan

Take your yoga off the mat and into the world through seva, the practice of "selfless service." We'll meet up at Manna Food Center (9311 Gaither Rd, Gaithersburg, Md, 20877) to box up donated food for needy families throughout Montgomery County. Friends, family members, and kids over age 8 welcome. Please register each individual - we can only bring so many yogis, and this service project typically fills up! - and bring cash, a check, and/or items from Manna's most needed foods list if you are able. 


Yoga NoMa yogis at  Bread for the City  in Nov 2016

Yoga NoMa yogis at Bread for the City in Nov 2016


Past Projects

2017

October - Yoga Bliss Studios - Sorting food at Manna Food Center 

  •  impact: Manna Food Center works to end hunger in Montgomery County through food distribution, advocacy, and nutrition education. Its innovative Smart Sacks program provides more than 2,500 students who rely on free and reduced price meals at 60 county elementary schools with food for the weekend.
  • participation: 14 students, teachers, and kids served together
  • students also raised $36 and donated 4 bags of food

July - Willow Street Yoga - Picnic + Organizing at A Wider Circle

  • impact: A Wider Circle connects families in need with much of that they need to make a dwelling a home - mattresses, furniture, linens, cookware, and children's books, toys, and clothes. AWC also runs a job training program and is opening a second facility in SE DC.
  • participation: a small but dedicated group of yogis helped prepare floor and desk lamps for the AWC showroom. AWC employees told us that many clients' homes have rooms without overhead lighting.
  • by meeting for lunch before volunteering, everyone was able to talk about previous experiences in volunteerism

May (Memorial Day Weekend) - Yoga Bliss Studios - Packing boxes at Manna Food Center

  •  impact: Manna Food Center works to end hunger in Montgomery County through food distribution, advocacy, and nutrition education. Its innovative Smart Sacks program provides more than 2,500 students who rely on free and reduced price meals at 60 county elementary schools with food for the weekend. We helped back boxes of canned food and shelf-stable items for families in need.
  • participation: 16 students, teachers, and kids served together
  • students also raised $80 and donated 30 lbs of food

April (Earth Day Weekend) - Blue Heron Wellness - Sligo Creek cleanup with Friends of Sligo Creek and donation class for Habitat for Humanity 

  • impact: despite rainy weather, 2 yogis participated in the Sligo Creek cleanup, filling several large yard bags with glass and plastic bottles, trash, carpeting, 2 tires, and lots of other things that shouldn't be in our streams! 2 students participated in the donation class and 9 others contributed online to Habitat for Humanity's Women Build week, ultimately raising $364
  • participation: 11 students and teachers

Feb (President's Day Weekend Saturday) - Yoga Bliss Studios - Sorting food at Manna Food Center 

  •  impact: Manna Food Center works to end hunger in Montgomery County through food distribution, advocacy, and nutrition education. Its innovative Smart Sacks program provides more than 2,500 students who rely on free and reduced price meals at 60 county elementary schools with food for the weekend.
  • participation: 13 students, teachers, and kids served together
  • students also raised $170 and donated 10 lbs of food

Jan (MLK Weekend Monday) - Blue Heron Wellness - Household goods, furnishings, and children's books sorting at A Wider Circle

  • impact: A Wider Circle connects families in need with much of that they need to make a dwelling a home - mattresses, furniture, linens, cookware, and children's books, toys, and clothes. AWC also runs a job training program and is opening a second facility in SE DC.
  • participation: 14 students, friends, teachers, and staff served together - including 3 kids!
  • before the volunteering afternoon, a by-donation class was held at the studio which raised $100 for AWC

2016

Nov (Veterans Day Weekend) - Yoga NoMa - Holiday Helpings canned goods sorting at Bread for the City

  • impact: Bread for the City distributes food for 10,000 holiday dinners each year; we helped fill an entire office with bags that are ready to be distributed to families in need.
  • participation: 10 students, friends, teachers, and staff served together - including one new to Yoga NoMa student.
  • first out-of-studio service project on site at a nonprofit

Sept (Labor Day) - Extend Yoga - Serve & Be Social

  • impact: ~60 healthy snack bags packed for Interfaith Works Wilkins Avenue Womens' Shelter, ~60 lunches packed for So Others Might Eat
  • participation: 18 students, friends, teachers, and staff served together - some students brought their children to the studio for the first time!
  • donated day-old bread and baked goods from Thrive Market in Rockville helped keep the project affordable and also addressed issues of food waste 

July - Yoga NoMa - Serve & Be Social

  • impact: ~110 lunches for So Others Might Eat
  • participation: 10 students, teachers, friends, and staff served together - some friends were visiting Yoga NoMa for the first time!
  • Costco Wheaton donated $50 in store credit to help purchase sandwich materials. To work with Costco, it is suggested that service leaders contact the store manager and establish in writing which organization will receive the donations (include nonprofit 501c3 #). This info should be provided more than 3 months in advance of the event, and Costco is only able to partner once every year on projects. Most major grocery stores (link to MOM's donation request) have similar rules.

April - Yoga NoMa - Clothing Swap

  • impact: 2 car trunks full of unswapped clothing in good condition went to Martha's Table and Interfaith Works Clothing Center. 
  • participation: 10 students, staff and teachers swapped clothing and jewelry and continue to think about this event whenever they wear something that they got from the swap.
  • If planning a clothing swap, please note that many places (including Martha's Table) are only able to receive in-season donations due to limited space.