As part of my focus on yoga as a practice that extends beyond ourselves and beyond our bodies, I am proud to support and connect to a number of charities and organisations doing great work in a variety of contexts as well as encouraging practices such as vegetarian diet, social justice and environmental awareness.
My teachers Sharon Gannon and David Life from Jivamukti Yoga taught me how yoga and activism are connected. But activism is in my blood. As a child (twelve or thirteen years old) I was already protesting against the fox hunt in the small English village that I grew up in and taking action for trees to not be cut down to create a road in our farm. With the help of the local council I also set up paper recycling in my high school – which was not recycling anything at all back then.
Yoga is not only about what happens on the mat. A yoga practice is a mirror for what happens in everyday life and vice versa. I think of my approach to activism as an everyday sadhana. Sadhana means conscious spiritual practice and everyday means two things – it means not saving our efforts for ‘special days’ and embracing the mundane as an opportunity for action.
What does it mean to be a yoga activist?
To be conscious in thoughts, words and deeds. To act in the world based on the values of yoga – the yamas and niyamas (yogic ethics) but particularly ahimsa or non-violence. As Swami Sivananda said ahimsa is not just the absence of violence, it is positive cosmic love. Meaning we can strive to be non-violent but as well as this we must also strive to spread love and become conscious of any harm we are doing in our food choices, our working environment, in our homes and our communities and in our interactions. This is the beginning of yoga activism. Acting on the yoga we practice.
Where to start if you want to get off the mat and into the world?
In your daily life. Where can you be more environmentally conscious? Can you use a linen cloth rather than a power towel? Can you make more conscious food choices for the animals, the planet and your health? If you are a yoga teacher can you use your classes as a platform for change? Also it is important to act in the areas that compel you. We each have our own dharma (unique life path or calling), according to the yogic text the Bhagavad Gita – and my dharma is different to yours. For example I’m very drawn to animal rights. Others are more drawn to human rights; I have a friend who spends a great deal of time campaigning for better rights for clothing manufacturers in ‘sweat shops’; that’s her calling. Act where you feel compelled and energised to do so.
How can we start to make a difference?
Start small, many of the world’s problems feel insurmountable but we can all do a great deal with small consistent actions. We have a particular interest in animal welfare and protection at Everyday Sadhana. There are many problems in the world which are complex and for which solutions seem impossible. The problem of the suffering of animals in factory farms is not so difficult to solve, we can all be part of the solution every time we eat a meal. By choosing a plant based diet we alleviate suffering in the world every single day.
Recent donation to the Doula Heart Network:
5th April 2017
Dear Katie and all at Everyday Sadhana,
On behalf of myself and all of us at the Australian Doula College and our charity arm Doula Heart Network we would like to thank you enormously for your incredibly generous and kind donation.
The $1471.45 that we received from you will help us to continue to support more women and families in need. The Doula Heart Network (DHN) unofficially started in 2004 and was created after its founder, Renee Adair had worked in a young women’s refuge for over three years, for the Australian Red Cross.
Through the Australian Doula College the Doula Heart Network offers all of its services and expertise free of charge to disadvantaged women and children to ensure that no woman goes without practical and emotional support, education or necessary items at one of the most important transitions in a woman’s life, the birth of her child. The DHN encourages love and practices non-judgment for all women, no matter her circumstance.
With enormous gratitude and lots a love,
Renee and team
In 2015 Katie Manitsas (above), the founder of Everyday Sadhana travelled to the Phillipines to volunteer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It was there that she met Ashley Furno, who runs an organisation called Pasay Pups.
‘Last month I had the great fortune of spending some time in Manila in the Philippines. I was working for an animal rights charity and also teaching some yoga. I also did some voluntary work for an organisation called Pasay Pups. Pasay is one of the less wealthy areas in Metro Manila and many people living their struggle to look after their cats and dogs well.
I was part of a group of volunteers who held a vaccination drive. We vaccinated 140 dogs and cats against rabies, parvovirus, distemper and other common ailments (I learned how to load the vaccines!). These immunizations save lives. In addition some owners in Pasay are afraid to interact with their animals because of the fear of rabies. By vaccinating the animals the owners are reassured and feel more comfortable petting their cats and dogs and generally showing them some love and affection which is wonderful for everyone!
Pasay Pups also cares for dogs who have challenging lives. Many dogs are kept chained all day or live in small cages as ‘guard dogs’ outside their owners homes. Pasay Pups runs a program to walk these dogs, clean their cages and in some cases provide shelter and comfort for them if they are chained. There is also a process of education and dialogue with owners to facilitate better understanding of the dogs needs and improved conditions. The work of Pasay Pups is truly inspirational – the perfect example of a grassroots organisation which is ‘walking the talk’ and getting on with helping beings who are suffering.
If you’ve been thinking of making a donation to charity I can’t think of a better place you could give your money to than this organisation.’
We run workshops to raise funds for Pasay Pups throughout the year and especially at Christmas time. Please see the workshops pages of our website for more information. If you feel so inclined please do make a donation to Pasay Pups. Even a very small amount can make a huge difference and this is an organization run by volunteers with absolutely no admin costs.