Los Angeles, CA–Yoga Gives Back (YGB) proudly announces that three-time Oscar-nominated film director and creator of the Twin Peaks series, David Lynch, received the YGB foundation’s prestigious 2016Namaste Award at their fifth-annual fundraising gala in Malibu, attended by over 200 guests.
Lynch graciously accepted the Namaste Award which recognizes his uplifting work using Transcendental Meditation, carried out through his David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. He said he wishes “auspiciousness to be seen everywhere, suffering belongs to no one, peace,” when accepting the award. His Foundation teaches Transcendental Meditation in many countries and, through its practice, helps young children in inner-city schools, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, the homeless, and women and girls who are victims of violence. Lynch has been practicing Transcendental Meditation daily since 1973.
YGB Founder Kayoko Mitsumatsu explains, “While it’s common for many to perceive yoga as a physical exercise, the ultimate goal of the practice of yoga is to unite with the Divine Self—and meditation plays an important role in achieving this. ‘Namaste,’ which means ‘the divinity in me salutes divinity in you’ in Sanskrit, symbolizes Yoga Gives Back’s mission, which is to help others, and is the inspiration for the Namaste Award.”
“The Namaste Award recognizes special people who have gone beyond the practice and teaching of yoga to incorporate noble humanitarian service, which helps make the world a better place,” she continues, “and we believe Mr. Lynch exemplifies this through his acts of kindness and desire to help others reach enlightenment. ”
Mitsumatsu founded Yoga Gives Backbecause she was deeply moved by the degree of poverty experienced by people in India. “While benefitting so much from regular yoga practice and teachings, it hit me hard that 75% of India’s population still live on under $2.00 a day,” she says. “It became very clear that if everyone worldwide who enjoys yoga donates even the cost of one yoga class to help those less fortunate, we can effect real change in the birthplace of yoga.”
The Thank You Mother India fundraiser is a joyous annual event gathering 200 members of the Southern California yoga community and beyond, to express gratitude to “Mother India” for the gift of yoga.
This year’s fundraiser took place on Sunday, Sept. 25th at the Malibu estate ofphilanthropist Dr. Amarjit Marwah from 4:30 -8:30 pm. Following a welcome reception with live entertainment and silent auction, there was a seated dinner featuring a live auction, raffle, short YGB FILMS presentation, and the Namaste Award ceremony. The Title Sponsor was Japanese rock star Kyosuke Himuro; Gold Sponsor was David Ellis; Table Sponsors were Lucky Number 9, Yello!, Yogaglo; Dinner Sponsors were Carla and Darius Gagne and Abacus; Audio Visual sponsor was Yogi teas; and Valet Parking sponsor was Quantum Fitness Takashi Uchino. Each attendee received a generous gift bag from the event sponsors.
This fundraiser serves as the launch for YGB’s annual five-month, global fundraising campaign. From September 2016 through January 2017, more than 150 YGB events will take place in over 15 countries heightening awareness of the realities faced by the poor, especially women and children in India. “While the 2015-2016 global campaign raised over $75,000.00 (USD), this year’s goal is to raise over $100,000.00,” says Mitsumatsu. “Yoga studios and communities will again host special yoga classes or fundraisers whose proceeds will benefit YGB’s programs.”
“For the cost of one yoga class, you can change a life” is the organization’s mantra, which has grown 35% every year since 2009, and now funds nearly 900 mothers and children in Karnataka and West Bengal, India,” she adds. YGB’s micro-loans and educational scholarships offer a minimum five-year commitment to each recipient.
The 2016 YGB Host Committee includes many prestigious members of the yoga community: Derik Mills, Felicia Tomasko, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Jorgen Christiansson, Ken Atchity, Kino MacGregor,Koji Toyoda, Mandy Ingber, Phillip Goldberg, Shiva Rae, Susan Nichols, Lauren Peterson, and Tara Guber.
Yoga Gives Back is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all or part of the gift may be deducted as a charitable contribution. Check with a tax advisor. For more information, visit Yoga Gives Back or contact email@example.com.
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Congratulations, Vincent! Awarded the prestigious Excellence in the Promotion of Health Equity Award at the 2016 Public Health in the Rockies Conference!
Equitas Foundation’s Executive Director, Dr. Vincent Atchity, was presented with the Excellence in the Promotion of Health Equity Award at Public Health in the Rockies this past Thursday in recognition of his work in Colorado to advocate for change and find solutions to the troubling over-incarceration of individuals with behavioral & mental health challenges.
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A few upcoming health events focus on meditation and wellness, as well as helping others.
Yoga has its own award. The Namaste Award is the centerpoint of the annual Thank You Mother India event organized by the Yoga Gives Back foundation. Oscar-nominated director David Lynch, a longtime proponent of transcendental meditation, will receive the award at the Sept. 25 dinner at a private estate in Malibu. Several rock stars of the yoga world -- Shiva Rea, Tara Guber, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa -- will also be in attendance. Yoga Gives Back founder Kayoko Mitsumatsu was struck by the fact that the cost of an average yoga class in Los Angeles amounts to 10 days' salary in much of India, yoga's birthplace, so the proceeds from the night will go toward micro-loans for rural women there. "Many yogis feel the desire and urge to give back to India," she said. Tickets include a cocktail reception featuring Bollywood dancers, a South Indian vegetarian dinner and a gift bag with items such as teas from Organic India and Yogi Tea, a week's pass to Yoga Works, g-lixir granola bars and ghee from 4th & Heart. $250, yogagivesback.org
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What is Yoga Gives Back all about? A couple of weeks ago we interviewed Kayoko Mitsumatsu, the founder of Yoga Gives Back, about the power of the work she does and why she created the organization. This week, we interviewed Maneesh Kalra about his work with Yoga Gives Back and what it’s like to volunteer your time for this organization.
Q. What inspired you to get involved with Yoga Gives Back?
A. I was introduced to YGB founder, Kayoko Mitsumatsu, by an old yoga friend in Hong Kong and, as fate would have it, Kayoko happened to be visiting her parents in Japan. That gave us an opportunity to meet and for me to hear the story of how YGB came to be.
When you sit with Kayoko for a few minutes, you cannot help but be inspired by the good she wants to do. She found a way to motivate and mobilize those of us already practicing and teaching yoga a chance to experience ‘sewa’ or yoga-inspired service.
Her approach to advocacy, fundraising, and donating is also truly inspiring; it is a grassroots movement utilizing the power of community and of micro-finance to make the world a better place.
Hers is such a compelling story – a woman of Japanese descent who immigrated to the US and is now spearheading a movement to shine a light on to the plight of impoverished young women and children in India. She has devoted her time and effort to benefit the Motherland, the birthplace of the yoga that now inspires so many in the West and around the world. (Perhaps I felt her story even more compelling as I am an Indo-Canadian living in Japan and teaching/practicing yoga.)
Q. How do you spend your time volunteering for Yoga Gives Back?
A. Our team in Japan looks to hold several YGB charity events every year. Over the past four years, we have partnered with our very good friend and teacher, Chuck Miller, during his annual visits to hold retreats and special ‘satsang’ (sitting in Truth) events, most often at Buddhist temples, to raise both money and awareness for YGB and the work this amazing organization does. These events are not just limited to Tokyo. We take these on the road to cities like Osaka and Fukuoka where again we hold special ‘satsang’ classes and share the proceeds from these classes with YGB.
We also spread the word by selling YGB t-shirts and using these opportunities to educate and inform the Japanese yoga community about how they can get involved, whether simply by buying a shirt, sponsoring a child, promoting to others, and/or even helping with future events.
Q. Why is service so important to you?
A. I was brought up in a house of bhakti and karma yoga where doing ‘sewa’ was just a normal part of life. In a way, it was nothing so special or out of the ordinary but rather something innate, a sort of natural extension or expression of our very being. Unfortunately, modern life is often so full of the hustle and bustle that we become too engrossed in ourselves and in our own daily lives. Although yoga is telling us to take time to go ‘into ourselves’, it is also constantly reminding us that ‘we are all one’ and that union is something that we share with all of our fellow human beings and with all Life.
So when we get the chance, like my fated meeting with Kayoko, we need to actively pursue involvement. What a blessing it is to get this opportunity to serve. And what a blessing it is to realize that it is a blessing to be able to serve.
Q. What has been the most rewarding aspect(s) with working in an organization that you believe in so much?
A. There are countless rewarding aspects but the most obvious one would be seeing the results of what we can accomplish together. The results in this case can be seen at both ends of the process: the joy you see in people when they get a chance to donate to a good cause and to hear about how their donation is put to use making life better for someone who truly needs it. And the joy you see in the receivers of these donations when they are able to start a small business and support their children’s education and ultimately their future. YGB videos really capture this spirit of joy and of gratitude and of connection to our less fortunate brothers and sisters in the Motherland.
Q. What would say to others who are considering volunteering? How can they get involved? What can they expect?
A. One of the most inviting features of YGB is that there is really no set time commitment. It is basically a platform that supports any and all activities you may be interested in organizing to ultimately spread the good word and raise some funds for the cause.
So if you like to hold summer yoga-on-the-beach events, well you can simply add “YGB-charity event” to the title and give the event a little more meaning than it may have otherwise had. Similarly, you could offer your regular classes or workshops or retreats or any yoga-related offering and add the YGB charity.
If you are not able to organize or not interested in the organizing aspect, there are many other ways to get involved:
1) Volunteer: you can always volunteer your time to help out at a YGB event in your area. For larger events in particular, we always need help!
2) Promote/Share event info: we always need to reach more and more people so you can help by ‘sharing’ event info on social media or blogs, etc.
3) Sponsor: if time is an issue or if there are no events in your area, you can always go to the YGB website and sponsor a child.
4) Donate: donations are also an easy way to get involved when time is an issue.
5) Purchase YGB tanks and tees: we all need yoga wear so why not show your support by purchasing a YGB tank or tee? Its a great way to spread the word as well.
YGB is always looking for ideas and so someone could make a big difference simply by contacting YGB (or their local ambassador) and suggesting events or other ways to get the word out there and get more people inspired to ‘give back’!
Surrounded by melodic kirtans, devotional mantras, and the philosophy of yoga and the Bhagavad Gita since early childhood, Maneesh found his passion for yoga rekindled as a young adult.
Under the tutelage of various prominent teachers in Asia, Maneesh developed a passion and devotion for Ashtanga (the eight limbs of yoga) and the healing powers of yogasana (poses)
and pranayama (breathing). This passion grew so intense that by 2006, it compelled him to leave the frenzied rat race of the corporate world behind and instead pursue full-time yoga studies in Mysore, India. While in India, Maneesh was able to dive into the study of various schools of asana, pranayama, Ayurveda, Sanskrit and the intimate relation between these subjects.
Maneesh has, however, been most profoundly influenced by world-renowned teachers Chuck Miller, Maty Ezraty, and Chad Hamrin. They have inspired and guided Maneesh to further deepen his interest in the therapeutic aspects of yoga, the power of the breath (often linked to the vital energy, prana), and the ultimate spiritual goals of yoga – the search for the Truth.
These variegated yoga experiences have taught Maneesh to appreciate how the tools of asana, pranayama and beyond help us to cultivate a higher level of awareness in ourselves. Maneesh hopes to share how these tools can help us cope with the pitfalls of modern life: how asana can be used therapeutically in rebalancing the body to create healthy alignment; and how increased awareness and self-reflection can help us to go beyond our conditioning and improve how we see and relate with others and the world around us.
“Truth is the same always. Whoever ponders it will get the same answer. Buddha got it. Patanjali got it. Jesus got it. Mohammed got it. The answer is the same, but the method of working it out may vary this way or that.” ― Swami Satchidananda; The Yoga Sutras