KuLA YOGA

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Sea Change Yoga’s First Birthday is today! One year ago today we became an official non-profit organization. Happy Birthday SCY! We could not do this work without the partnerships that we have in the yoga community.

When Melea and I, and a group of a few others, first began talking about starting a yoga service organization, we knew community would need to play a large part. We began brainstorming possible names for the organization, one of them was KULA YOGA. KULA is the sanskrit word for community. I really loved that name and pushed for it, because we knew that we wanted to offer the people we serve more than just asana or pranayama or guided meditation alone. We wanted to offer them these healing practices in community.

My yoga community has helped me through some really challenging times. I can practice at home, and I do. But it is a different experience when you practice in community. To see the men and women that we serve, who are going through challenges such as incarceration, recovery from substance abuse disorder, mental health issues, homelessness or PTSD, all practicing side by side in community is a powerful and moving sight. The practice comes fully alive for them in community.

 I strongly believe in the yogic concepts of karma and seva and I think Sea Change is a manifestation of those concepts. Those values guide our work. We believe that every human being has inherent worth and deserves to be treated with dignity. We believe as yogis that seva has to be a part of our lives. But more than the karma we are generating in the world by doing this important seva work, the concept of KULA or community stands out to me even more.

We are a community action group. We bring community to those people who have been separated from their communities. This is a powerful and transformative way to help them heal. Our students take the tools we provide back into their communities. Our long term vision is to open a space that will be a welcoming community where people can come and practice yoga in community with affinity groups. We hope to serve New Mainers, people who are recently released from prison and need a safe place to continue practicing, LGBTQ youth and many others who feel marginalized, and who can’t access yoga due to financial and cultural barriers.

One of the foundational values of our organization is that we strive to be a supportive community for our dedicated teachers. We offer regular professional development opportunities, in community, so that they continue to learn about the many facets of trauma to better serve their students. We offer our valued teachers- our vital community members- a time and place for community meetings, where a therapist can help them to process with each other and share the challenges of holding space for the vulnerable people that we serve. Sustainable service is always on our mind- how do we sustain this work for others and how do we sustain ourselves while we do this work? Community plays a huge role in this self-care for our teachers. 

Lots of people have done yoga service in the past. We didn’t invent the concept for sure, but what makes Sea Change different is that we know the value of community support and it is a pillar of our organization. So to all of you out there from the yoga community, I say Namaste and THANK YOU for being a supportive member of our YOGA KULA. Happy First Birthday to Us- and thanks to you!

With a deep bow of gratitude,

Diana

Megang Elliott