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RYYO Goes Off The Mat

July 15, 2009 by Michael McCarthy

Yoga SummitRadha Yoga Youth Outreach in Ottawa was invited to attend a Summit on Yoga, Mindfulness and Service this May at the Omega Institute in New York State. Michael McCarthy, an outreach teacher at RYYO, attended the conference and shares his experience.

Mark Lilly, the organizer and the founder of Street Yoga in Portland, met Jessica Earle-Meadows, RYYO’s Program Coordinator, and I back in September. Having recognized the integrity of RYYO, he invited one of us to attend the summit. Omega was a beautiful place to meet 12 very inspiring people whose shared vision was to bring yoga to people in need. There were people who worked with incarcerated teens and homeless youth as well as those who worked with women with eating disorders and those living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Although we only had three days together, a Yoga Service Council was created. It was clear that we were all doing great work individually. However, in the spirit of support and collaboration we knew we could do more. Collectively we can support individuals and organizations to best serve and empower their communities through yoga and mindfulness practice. The YSC is an organization dedicated to collecting and publicizing the best practices in the field of yoga service, and coordinating research on a large scale, through many different organizations (for example, collecting questionnaires from kids who have been attending classes all over the continent, rather than just at one studio). By doing this, yoga outreach programs can improve and the growing yoga community can learn about karma yoga.

The council found much support in Seane Corn, one of yoga’s most prominent figures and co-director of “Off the Mat, Into the World.” She reiterated to us what is a daily mantra at the ashram: “Selfless service will make you Divine.” With an estimated 20 million Americans practicing yoga, the potential to heal individuals and communities through yoga has never been greater. But as Seane’s charity puts it, that kind of healing requires taking yoga off the mat and into the world.

I left Omega’s beautiful grounds with a sense of being connected to others with a similar mission. That kind of solidarity is very inspiring! I also realized how blessed I am to have been given the opportunity to do this kind of work in such a special organization. RYYO is an organization with light and integrity. This stems from our commitment to the teachings of Swami Radha, first and foremost. The teachings hold the space for our work, our personal growth and our relationships as colleagues. Working with other youth who value Swami Radha’s teachings has been such a gift. It has allowed us to offer the best programming we possibly can and so many youth have benefited from it.

RYYO looks forward to engaging the YSC and its collaborative approach in serving youth with Swami Radha’s unique foundation of character-building, courage and awareness.

In the Light,

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  1. It’s about time that the greater yoga community caught up with the idea of selfless service – once again, the ashram is ahead of the curve! The Yoga Service Council is an amazing initiative; it’s so wonderful that Michael was able be involved in its conception and Swami Radha’s teachings will be represented.

    Comment by roseanne — July 26, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

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