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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YGB Featured in the LA Times: Where wellness meets philanthropy: Three events to know about

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,

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YogaGlo Interviews YGB Ambassador Maneesh Kalra about his work with Yoga Gives Back

yoga gives back

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’!

ManeeshSurrounded 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 alignmentand 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 

Jim White's breathtaking photos ...

Alberta…. nothing is Photo shopped … what you see… colors, etc., captured as is with mirrorless Sony 35 mm A7RII camera.

Filmmaker David Lynch Picked to Receive Yoga-Inspired Namaste Award

More than 200 yogis are expected at the posh Malibu fundraiser.

Glenn Hunt/Getty Images

There's an award ceremony for pretty much every walk of life in Los Angeles — even yogis.

Filmmaker David Lynch will receive the Namaste Award at Yoga Gives Back's 5th annual gala fundraiser, titled "Thank You Mother India," scheduled for Sept. 25 in Malibu. According to the organization, the bronze trophy simply "recognizes those who serve others." Lynch will be only the second recipient of the prize, following in the footsteps of previous honoree Malika Chopra, daughter of Deepak Chopra.

Lynch, best known for Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway and Blue Velvet, is being lauded for his "noble and humanitarian efforts" through his David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which makes transcendental meditation accessible to children and adults all over the world. (Lynch has been practicing TM since 1973 and has been a vocal advocate of the practice in the decades since.)

YGB Founder Kayoko Mitsumatsu said in a statement: “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 the divinity in you’ in Sanskrit, symbolizes Yoga Gives Back’s mission, which is to help others, and is the inspiration for the Namaste Award.”

More than 200 guests from the local yoga community are expected to attend the event at the Pacific Coast Highway estate of philanthropist Amarjit Marwah. Oh, and the invites promise "a generous gift bag" to go with the $200 tickets.

 Read more at the Hollywood Reporter

Robot Building (dictation from Oliver Atchity)


get electric motor
connect to black and red and white wire
connect wires to circuit board
Put a buzzer on the circuit board
Put a black wire on it

start building
Get two motors
Put another black wire on the circuit board
Connect the black wires to the two motors, one to each motor
Put two wheels on the motors

Put the motor in the curved Lego pieces, cOnnect to circuit board

Get two black pole pieces and two red grabbers and two blue circle pieces and a long gray rectangle piece then get a block with a hole in the side

Get two smooth curved pieces then drill a hole all the way down to the rectangle piece then get a black piece and put that on top and connect a sprayer piece to the black piece.

Then make another one of those.

Get tube pieces and gray circle pieces. Connect the gray circle pieces to the tube pieces.

Get a screen. Get a red and white wire. Connect the red and white wire to the circuit board and then to the screen. Make sure the red side is facing one way and the white side is facing the other way.

Add two gray arms on the robot.

Get white curved pieces and put the circuit board with all the wires on them. Get two long white pieces, and put big long red pieces on top of the white pieces.

Get a big long white piece, then make the jet engines. Get a medium long piece, get two square pieces, put them side by side under the long piece. Put two circular pieces under the two grabber pieces. Glue the two grabber pieces to the big long piece with the square pieces on it.

Get tube pieces, then get big red circle pieces (if you don't have big red circle pieces, paint white circle pieces red).

Get two curved pieces, drill two holes in them all the way down to the big flat piece. Then get two blocks, make sure there are holes on each side of them, then connect them, one on the bottom and one on the top.

Get circular black piece, put sprayer piece on top. Put a red sprayer piece.

Make another one of those jet engines.

Equitas Executive Director, Vincent Atchity, joins the newly formed Clinical Advisory Committee (CAC).

Equitas Executive Director, Vincent Atchity, joins the newly formed Clinical Advisory Committee (CAC) established by Colorado’s 18th Judicial District Wellness Court. The committee is comprised of doctors, clinicians, and Problem Solving Court experts who have working knowledge of major mental health conditions and substance use disorders and will provide clinical insight to the Wellness Court, ensure the highest standard of care in treatment and services, and provide guidance on treatment and service practices.

Equitas announces that in an effort led by Judge Bonnie McLean of Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, a Clinical Advisory Committee (CAC) has been established to provide clinical insight to the Wellness Court, ensure the highest standard of care in treatment and services, and provide guidance on treatment and service practices. McLean presides over a domestic court docket and is in charge of the district’s mental health, drug, and veterans’ treatment courts. She helped develop the first drug court in the Eighteenth Judicial District (which encompasses Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln counties). Prior to her appointment as a magistrate in 2006, McLean worked as a deputy district attorney in the Eighteenth Judicial District, where she was in charge of the juvenile delinquency unit.

The 18th Judicial District Wellness Court is a co-occurring Problem Solving Court. The goal of the Wellness Court is to increase public safety by reducing recidivism of offenders with co-occurring diagnosis through treatment and supervision. The court strives to ensure participant accountability, support recovery, and improve the quality of life for participants and their families with a cost effective, evidence-based integrated continuum of care.

Among those invited to join the CAC is Equitas Foundation Executive Director, Dr. Vincent Atchity. Equitas is pursuing a national strategy to unite influential allies in focusing their collective problem-solving energy on disentangling the nation’s costly and ineffective management of mental health crises from our criminal justice system.

Dr. Atchity joins a well-respected list of community leaders who have also agreed to serve on the Clinical Advisory Committee including:

        Dr. Patrick Fox, Chief Medical Officer at Colorado Department of Human Services
        Matt Vogel, Executive Director of the National Center for Behavioral Health Innovation – University of Colorado Health Sciences
        Dr. Libby Stuyt, Medical Director at Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, Circle Program
        Dr. Rich Martinez, Director, Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at University of Colorado
        Dr. Neil Gowensmith, Clinical Assistant Professor at Denver University and Director of Denver First
        Brenidy Rice, State Problem Solving Court Coordinator at the Office of the State Court Administrator
        Terri Hurst, Policy Coordinator at Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition
        Lisa Thompson, Director of Housing First and Assertive Community Treatment at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

The 18th Judicial District Wellness Court is currently undergoing a major overhaul to improve outcomes through treatment and support. The district is already looking to restructure its phase system as well as its sanctions and incentives to implement the most up-to-date, evidence-based research practices. Some of the biggest upcoming changes to this program will be to treatment, case management, and community supervision.

While judicial districts all over the United States have begun to implement Wellness Courts, or other-named equivalents, in order to provide supervised treatment, recovery, and reintegration as an alternative to extended periods of incarceration, there is great variation in practice from court to court. The 18th Judicial District Wellness Court’s Clinical Advisory Committee and the Equitas Foundation will work to identify the best practices that ensure the efficacy of Judge McLean’s corrective and healing work in Colorado, and that may be shared with other communities doing similar work across the nation.

About Equitas
Equitas was founded in 2013 by the David & Laura Merage Foundation. Through the exploration and dissemination of best practices, Equitas promotes collaboration, innovation, and systems change to benefit people with mental disorders and brain challenges in the criminal justice system. For more information, visit

Congratulations to Vincent Atchity Named Executive Director of Equitas Foundation

“I am thrilled to be joining the Equitas Foundation,” said Vincent Atchity. “In the two short years the organization has been in operation, it has already laid a solid foundation through researching and elevating best practices, connecting with community advocates, and providing support for implementing community mapping exercises. I look forward to helping the organization thrive and grow in the coming years.”

Equitas Foundation announces Vincent Atchity as new Executive Director to lead the strategic direction for the organization by catalyzing relationships, facilitating collaboration of community leaders, and serving as an advocate for individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system. Vincent will assist Equitas to achieve its vision of helping communities institute diversion practices in the justice system to better support these individuals by connecting them with treatment and resources.

 Equitas Foundation announced today that Vincent Atchity has been named as the non-profit’s new Executive Director. In this role, Vincent will lead the strategic direction for the organization by catalyzing relationships, facilitating collaboration of community leaders, and serving as an advocate for individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system. Vincent will assist Equitas to achieve its vision of helping communities institute diversion practices in the justice system to better support these individuals by connecting them with treatment and resources.

Vincent is an accomplished national leader in community health management with a proven talent for leading successful start-up initiatives. In his most recent position as COO of the North Colorado Health Alliance, he was responsible for establishing and managing a network of 70 cross-sector organizations and ensuring their collaborative efforts toward sustainable community health were impactful. Vincent’s career experience also includes several positions in higher education, including serving as Assistant Dean at Fordham University and at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health. Vincent earned his Ph.D. and M.A. degrees at the University of Southern California, and an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.

Equitas’ largest undertaking in 2015 has been facilitating the Diversion Power program by initiating the Early Diversion "Train the Trainers" State Initiative via a partnership with the Colorado State Office of Behavioral Health and working directly with communities on “Sequential Intercept Model Mapping” to conduct an asset and gap analysis to identify where persons with mental illness, brain challenges, and/or substance use disorders are falling through the cracks of the criminal justice process. From there, the communities are able to identify opportunities for reform based on evidence-based best practices.

The Equitas Foundation launched Diversion Power out of the recognition that Colorado rural communities face particular challenges in access to treatment, including vast geographic and transportation challenges, a lack of resources, and being underserved by community mental and behavioral health centers, hospitals, and the state-wide crisis stabilization system. The Equitas Foundation is committed to partnering with communities to promote diversion out of the criminal justice system and increasing access to treatment.

About Equitas

Equitas was founded in 2013 by the David & Laura Merage Foundation. Equitas promotes collaboration, innovation, and systems change to benefit people with mental disorders and brain challenges in the criminal justice system. Through the exploration and dissemination of best practices, Equitas ensures that law enforcement and the justice system are fully informed, empowered, and engaged to address the needs of people with mental disorders and hidden brain challenges. For more information, visit

About the David & Laura Merage Foundation

The David & Laura Merage Foundation promotes self-sufficiency through education and community development. The foundation supports programs that are focused on social change and result in children, families and communities improving the quality and circumstances of their lives. David & Laura Merage believe that education is the gateway to optimal life outcomes. For more information, please visit

Yoga Gives Back to bestow author with inaugural Namaste Award in Malibu


Yoga Gives Back proudly announces that Mallika Chopra, author of “Living with Intent,” will receive the first-ever Yoga Gives Back Namaste Award at the foundation’s fourth-annual Thank You Mother India fundraiser on Sept. 26, in Malibu.

The Thank You Mother India fundraiser is an evening when 200 members of the Southern California yoga community come together for an altruistic cause and express gratitude to Mother India for the gift of yoga.

“The Namaste Award was established in 2015 to recognize special people who have gone beyond the practice and teaching of yoga to incorporate noble humanitarian service, which elevates humankind and helps make the world a better place,” said Kayoko Mitsumatsu, a Tokyo-born documentary film producer and practicing yogi, who founded the LA-based non rofit Yoga Gives Back in 2007. “I am thrilled to present our first Namaste Award to Mallika Chopra, who is passionate about the power of meditation and will lead a special meditation at the event.

While it’s common for many to perceive yoga as a mere physical exercise, through deeper study, we learn that the ultimate goal of yoga is to unite with the Divine Self—where 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 award.

Mitsumatsu founded YGB because she was deeply moved by the degree of poverty experienced by people in India.

“While benefiting so much from regular yoga practice and teachings, it hit me hard that 75 percent of India’s population still live on under $2 a day,” she said. “It became very clear to me that if everyone worldwide who enjoys yoga donates the cost of one yoga class to help those less fortunate, we can effect real change in the birthplace of yoga.”

The fundraiser will take place at the home of philanthropist Amarjit Marwah at 6 p.m. on Sept. 26, at 29057 Pacific Coast Highway.

Following a welcome reception, there will be a seated three-course dinner featuring the Namaste Award ceremony, followed by a short YGB FILMS presentation, silent and live auction, raffle and live performance by the Odissi dancers.

Each event attendee will receive a generous gift bag from the event sponsors.

This local Malibu fundraiser serves as the launch for YGB’s annual five-month, global fundraising campaign.

From September 2015 through January 2016, 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 India. “In 2014-2015, nearly $70,000 was raised globally through this annual global campaign. Yoga studios and communities hosted special yoga classes or fundraiser events whose proceeds raised the majority of funding for YGB’s programs,” says Mitsumatsu. “Including the proceeds of this year’s Malibu event, our end goal this year is to arrive at $100,000.”

“For the cost of one yoga class, you can change a life” is the organization’s mantra, which has grown 35 percent every year since 2009, and now funds nearly 700 mothers and children in Karnataka and West Bengal, India.

YGB’s micro-loans and educational scholarships offer a minimum five-year commitment to each recipient. 

Tickets for the event are $180 or $125 if purchased with a new membership. Complimentary valet is provided.

For more informtion, email,
call (310) 991-9599 or visit

Reposted from Malibu Surfside News