Tag Archives: seva

The Fistula Foundation

A family friend of mine recently attended  the first annual International Day to End Obstetric Fistula at the UN.  I’m so grateful for the service he and the Fistula Foundation are doing for the global community.  To learn more about the fistula tragedy, the video below is narrated by Natalie Imbruglia and designed by The Draw Shop (which I’ve blogged about for their work on various TED videos in the past).  Just four minutes tells the story perfectly …

Obstetric Fistula: No Longer A Neglected Tragedy

Posted: 05/23/2013 10:16 am on the Huffington Post

In September of 1994, the world community gathered in Cairo for the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). It was the largest intergovernmental conference on population and development ever held, producing a comprehensive Programme of Action that remains today as both touchstone and framework for the field. Yet in all 194 pages of that landmark document — which covers everything from female empowerment to male responsibilities in family planning — the childbirth injury obstetric fistula is not mentioned. Not once.

Obstetric fistula is a profound traumatic injury that’s been ruining the lives of would-be mothers throughout history; the first historical occurrence recorded dates back to 2050 B.C. It’s an injury that affects women like 16-year old Goni, from Ethiopia, who labored for days until her stillborn baby was delivered, and was then left incontinent until surgery years later could heal her wounds. Yet, until a decade ago, fistula was literally not on the global health agenda, even though it is arguably the most devastating and disabling of all childbirth injuries.

The simple reason: women who suffer from fistula live almost exclusively in rural areas of very resource constrained countries, and are therefore some of the least empowered human beings on the planet. Obstetric fistula impacts almost no one in the developed world since it was largely eradicated a century ago when access to emergency obstetric care became widespread.

Nearly two decades after the ICPD, the world has come together to create a global, multi-sector response to this previously neglected scourge, and now the tide is turning. To both commemorate progress and inspire future efforts, the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed today, May 23rd, as the first annual International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.

This date is particularly fitting because it’s been a decade since the United Nationslaunched its Campaign to End Fistula, helping strengthen the visibility of the issue and increase collaboration and coordination amongst doctors, hospitals, advocates and governments. Large bilateral donors, such as USAID’s funded Fistula Care program at Engender Health, have provided critical policy and research leadership. Further, a nascent organization, the International Society of Fistula Surgeons, was formed in 2007 to advance the practice of fistula surgery, a field that draws specialists from obstetrics, gynecology, general surgery and urology.

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, in partnership with UNFPA, has pioneered both a training manual and a field-based fellowship training program. These multinational, bilateral and medical community efforts have proven critical to providing leadership, assessing need and injecting data into a field where little existed before, and distributing government resources where they are needed most.

The private sector fills the last crucial piece of the fistula treatment equation. Nongovernmental organizations, such as the Fistula Foundation, are advocating on behalf of fistula patients and forging relationships with corporate and individual donors to raise and subsequently distribute funds that expand the capacity for treatment at facilities in Africa and Asia.

In response to the vast need and growing awareness, generous donors have stepped forward to help the Fistula Foundation expand dramatically in the last four years, now supporting treatment sites in 19 countries. As donors in the United States and Europe learn about the issue, coffers to fund treatment have swelled.

Organizations like ours also fill a role in increasing the capacity of hospitals, through injections of critical funding for surgeries and training by expert surgeons to help provide fistula treatment where none was available before. Direct Relief provided key leadership in working with us and UNFPA to pioneer the first Global Fistula Map, a dynamic tool that provides information on treatment facilities around the world.

Several leading private sector corporations have also stepped forward to fund and support fistula treatment and prevention efforts, but none with greater resolve and dedication than Johnson & Johnson. The company has provided significant funds and supplies for fistula treatment, and been a strategic partner with our Foundation helping get critical funds to advance treatment in under-resourced communities. In addition, internet powerhouse Google has given in-kind advertising on its network to the Fistula Foundation to help expand awareness and fund our operation.

The media has taken notice as well, creating awareness of fistula among citizens and potential donors, where little existed before. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nicholas Kristof at The New York Times elevated the issue through numerous columns that brought the stories of women with fistula and the doctors that treat them to the attention of his readers. His bestselling book, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” (published with his Pulitzer Prize-winning wife, Sheryl WuDunn), devoted a section to fistula. Further, Oprah Winfrey featured the work of pioneering fistula surgeon and founder of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, Dr. Catherine Hamlin, on two of her programs.

We have a long way to go to provide treatment to the enormous backlog of women with untreated fistula, let alone provide the emergency obstetric care needed to prevent the injury. But while there is no silver bullet to solving this global problem, our coordinated response is making headway.

We must continue to fight for the women who have been traumatically injured while trying to bring a child into the world. They need our help to regain their place in their families, their communities and their societies.

More on obstetric fistula….

Obstetric fistula is the most devastating and serious of all childbirth injuries. It happens because most mothers in poor countries give birth without any medical help. So many are young girls. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are among the leading causes of death and disability for women of reproductive age in these places. Obstetric fistula was largely eliminated in the United States in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century with improved obstetric care in general and the use of c-sections in particular to relieve obstructed labor.

After enduring days of agonizing, obstructed labor a woman’s body is literally broken by childbirth. During labor contractions, the baby’s head is constantly pushing against the mother’s pelvic bone — causing tissue to die due to lack of blood flow to this area. All of that pushing creates a hole, or in medical terms a “fistula”, between the birth passage and an internal organ such as the bladder or rectum. A woman cannot hold her urine, and sometimes bowel content as well.

Her baby is unlikely to survive. If she survives, a woman with fistula is likely to be rejected by her husband because of her inability to bear more children and her foul smell. She will be shunned by her community and forced to live an isolated existence. These women suffer profound psychological trauma resulting from their utter loss of status and dignity, in addition to suffering constantly from their physical internal injury.

The numbers are staggering

Right now, hundreds of thousands of women are suffering from this heartbreaking, treatable childbirth injury because they are too poor to afford surgery that costs about $450.

This number keeps growing bigger. Each year approximately 30,000 – 50,000 women develop this childbirth injury. The international capacity to treat fistula patients has been estimated at just over 14,000 a year — less than half the amount of new women who develop a fistula each year. Surgeons would describe this as an enormous backlog of untreated patients. There is clearly an overwhelming need for treating far more women.

Your donation will change one woman’s life forever >>

Fast Facts

  • Fistula used to be present in the U.S. and Europe, but was largely eliminated in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century with improved obstetric care in general and the use of c-sections in particular to relieve obstructed labor.
  • The World Health Organization estimates there may be as many as 50,000 — 100,000 new cases of fistula each year, yet the global treatment capacity is less than 20,000 cases a year. There is a large unmet need for treatment. Fistula is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
  • For example, in Ethiopia, there are an estimated 100,000 women suffering with untreated fistula, and another 9,000 women who develop fistula each year.
  • Less than 6 in 10 women in developing countries give birth with any trained professional, such as a midwife or a doctor.  When complications arise, as they do in approximately 15% of all births, there is no one available to treat the woman, leading to disabling injuries like fistula, and even death.
  • The root causes of fistula are grinding poverty and the low status of women and girls.  In developing countries, the poverty and malnutrition in children contributes to the condition of stunting, where the girl skeleton, and therefore pelvis as well, do not fully mature.  This stunted condition can contribute to obstructed labor, and therefore fistula.
  • But, fistula is both preventable and treatable.  For instance, the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital has treated over 30,000 women over 33 years.  Their cure rate is over 90%.  Fistula can be prevented if laboring women are provided with adequate emergency obstetric care when complications arise.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ

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Project Surya Fundraiser for STEPS!

I’m always at my happiest when I’m either A) in a backbend or B) organizing meaningful projects . . . and I’m very grateful it’s about that time of year!

The 2013 Project Surya outreach will be held on June 1st – 108 Sun Salutations in Prospect Park for STEPS to End Family Violence.   Check out the press release below (park permit pending!):

 

Yoga Gathering and Fundraiser to End Family Violence

On Saturday, June 1st, yoga practitioners and do-gooders across New York City will gather at the 15th Street entrance to Prospect Park for 108 for Peace, an event to raise awareness around ending family violence.  They’ll be dedicating 108 Sun Salutations in the name of peace, as well as fundraising for the New York nonprofit, STEPS to End Family Violence.  The event promises prizes for the most enthusiastic fundraisers, music, refreshments, and a stunning view of the lake in Prospect Park, the only freshwater lake in Brooklyn.

About STEPS

When STEPS’ founder, Sister Mary Nerney, began providing counseling to incarcerated women in 1986, she realized a grim truth: the vast majority of incarcerated women had been victims of some kind of violence in their past.  What started out as providing domestic and sexual violence services and education to incarcerated women, has now grown into a citywide phenomenon, addressing each stage in the cycle of violence, including services to children and teenagers.  STEPS now provides services in every borough and reaches over 5,000 New Yorkers each year.

STEPS provides culturally competent, multi-lingual, free services, offered through four areas: Criminal Justice Services for Women, Counseling and Advocacy (provides individual and group counseling for survivors and their children as well as financial counseling and connection to a range of social service providers), Civil Legal Services, and Teen Services.  (visit STEPS’ website for more details on services)

About Project Surya

The engine behind the gathering is Project Surya, an unregistered nonprofit founded by Hawaiian karma yogi and writer, Joanne OS Kelly.  Project Surya’s mission is to “Shed light on global issues.”  The organization is responsible for Kashi Ganga Cleanup, a gathering of 500 Varanasi citizens to clean the river Ganga and pledge to make their city a World Heritage City in the next 10 years.  Project Surya’s founder was also given an award from the Yoga Journal for efforts to bring yoga to under-served communities, including TMM Family Services in Tucson, Brookview Preschool in Tallaught, Ireland, and members of the Umonho Tribe in Nebraska. (visit Project Surya’s website for more)

About Sun Salutations

Sun Salutations is a series of movements used in many yoga classes to warm the body.  Traditionally, it is a sequence devoted to Surya, the sun god.  There are at least 23 documented variations of Sun Salutations in India, and as yoga has grown in international popularity, variations have increased exponentially.  The Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit, the mother language of Indo-European languages) will be performed as an offering to peace at the event.  Participants are encouraged to dedicate as many salutations as they feel comfortable doing.

About the Event

Participants will meet at the 15th Street entrance to Prospect Park at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 1st.  They will be led to a grassy field on the shore of the north side of the lake.  Each participant will set up their own mats or blankets, and though some refreshments will be served afterward, participants should bring their own water, sunscreen, hats and towels.  People may participate in any of four ways:

  1. Perform 108 (or fewer) Sun Salutations in the name of ending family violence.
  2. Come to the event to offer support.
  3. Fundraise by asking coworkers, friends, and acquaintances to donate some amount of money for every Sun Salutation they perform – fundraising sheets are availableon the Project Surya website.  The most enthusiastic fundraisers will receive prizes like acupuncture sessions and yoga class cards.
  4. Donate directly at the event or online (link).

A short dedication will kick off the event, and the Sun Salutation portion will take approximately 90 minutes, depending on the practitioner.  Light refreshments and music will be offered, and winners of the fundraising competition will also be announced.  Winners will receive healing prizes from Third Root Community Health Center.

Contacts and Useful Links

Contact Joanne Kelly: Jo@ThirdRoot.org  |  808.343.1850

Support a Health Center with Heart!

A few months into the Brooklyn chapter, I was asked to join a collective of health practitioners at Third Root Community Health Center.

One of the biggest motivators for coming back to the States was to find a community – because as much as I loved my compadres in the world of teaching abroad, we were all relatively nomadic.  A wonderful life!  But the big 33 seems to beckon for more stable ground…

Cue Third Root.  The center provides a community connection that can feel all-too-rare in the frenetic New York landscape.  Welcoming, inclusive and sensitive to the needs of marginalized communities, the center holds a special place in the heart of Brooklyn.

At the center of NY’s largest Haitian community, joined by Tibetan, Pakistani, Hassidic Jew and Mexican pockets. And trees. Lots of pretty trees :o)

We’re raising funds for this fabulous space.  If you’re interested in contributing,please visit our First Giving page.

 

From our newly launched website:

We strive to be Accessible, Empowering, and Collaborative

Accessible

We offer sliding scale fees, a staff trained in anti-oppression, and a clinic
that is building bridges within a community.

Collaborative

Practitioners from various modalities work together toward a client’s optimum
health. We have a vast referral network for practices or specialized care
outside of our scope of practice. We work with local and national social
justice organizations to build healthy communities from the outside in and
the inside out.

Empowering

Third Root is a place where people learn to make informed choices about
self-care and learn how to better care for themselves through the healing
they receive at Third Root. We offer health education workshops, a 3-tiered
Herbal Education Program, herb walks, and a resource library

Supporting Third Root allows our educators, therapists and practitioners to continue on a mission of holistic health through social justice.

Sunlight peeking in before class..

Make your donation to support Third Root by clicking through here.

Looking at the big picture, in the midst of a major economic downturn, when millions are struggling to make ends meet, Third Root Community Health Center is providing affordable sliding-scale holistic healthcare to those in need.  It’s a group of nurturing individuals, a space for growth and health education – Third Root is social justice in action.

Thank you in advance for your contribution to the center, whether it’s a generous gift of philanthropy, a shout out for social justice, or a token of your gratitude.

 

 “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

~ Lao Tzu

School Girl’s Blog Feeds Thousands!

(from NPR)

Scottish school girl Martha Payne is just nine, but she caused a national kerfluffle last week when she was told she could no longer publish photographs of her school lunches on her daily food blog, NeverSeconds.

Martha began blogging in April about the quality of her school lunches, with the help of her father, David. Each day she posts a clear photograph of a meal, and rates each one on its taste, health, price and number of pieces of hair that turn up in the food (mostly none).

She also started accepting photos from other kids who’ve taken snapshots of their school lunches. Martha won the support of chef and food activist Jamie Oliver and, to her delight, of fans who contributed increasing amounts of money to her food charity, Mary’s Meals. The group sets up feeding projects for children in developing countries.

However, her occasionally unflattering descriptions of her own meals didn’t please the local Scottish governing council. Last week, officials told Martha she couldn’t publish images of school lunches anymore. That’s because a newspaper article described Martha’s efforts under a headline that read, “TIme To Fire The Dinner Ladies”, according to the BBC. The council objected, saying school lunch workers were now afraid for their jobs and that Martha was only photographing one lunch item out of several offering.

The camera ban lasted less than a day.

The local council faced a “storm of protest on the internet”, says the BBC. Council chief Roddy McCuish quickly released a statement lifting the ban, praising Martha as an ‘enterprising and imaginative pupil’ and insisting that censorship had no place in the council.

The brief censorship had a remarkable effect. Millions of people visited Martha’s food blog to voice support for her and then chose to donate to her hunger charity. Martha’s now helped raise more than $146,000, enough to build a full kitchen at an elementary school in Blantyre, Malawi, according to the Guardian. There’s enough money to feed the school’s nearly 2,000 pupils for a year.

Martha writes: “Mary’s Meals asked me what I would like to call the kitchen and I said ‘Friends of NeverSeconds’ because if it was just me I would never have managed to raise enough but now we have!”

Varanasi’s Final Surprises

Purna Nataraj, one of the asanas on my 'to-do' list. Nailed it on my own ... for 60 seconds only ... practice, practice, practice!

(Apologies for all these recent blogs being quite journal-y!  I’ll get back to articles and creative thangs once I have more time for research/editing!  For now, just the updates …)

One of India’s great lessons is how to be unattached – unattached to time-related goals, unattached to particulars in how you like your food or accommodation, unattached to order, the list goes on and on.

Originally, my “to-do list” in Varanasi looked a little something like this:

  • Find my way to full expression of asanas: purna nataraj, scorpion, hanumanasan variation (grabbing ankles), pranayam practice . . .
  • Complete a seva for Varanasi, clean Ma Ganga
  • Keep up with the bloggy blogs
  • Finish a chapter in my online philosophy course
  • Build website for yoga business in New York
  • Work on Rajuji’s website for OM SHANTI YOGA NIKETAN

Guess how many I actually completed!  One. Just the one. With the help of my teacher (Raj Kumar Vajpayee Yogacharya), Rachna at Gandiv and Mr. Madhok of Jago Banaras, we successfully offered seva to Varansi through a cleanup event that seems to have made quite a splash in the city.  As a direct result of this “to-do,” five surprise experiences blossomed instead of what I’d originally planned:    

1. Held an official press conference for the seva event and was later interviewed on a local TV show.  If I’d known this would be such a media-heavy trip, I’d have brought nicer clothes.

The seva event! 200 people joined us (along with a crazy amount of press!) ...

2. Am being featured in a book called “Yoga Planet” by a Swedish journalist and yogini (like me!), Magdalena.  She and her photographer Jonas took quite a few photos at the studio and hopefully my advice on where to practice asana, pranayam and meditation will be finding its way into the pages of this one!

One of the photoshoots for the yoga book, Alok on the right doing some crazy bidness...

3. Was honored by members of Varanasi’s community at Kashivishwanath Yog Peeth, where media and guests were scheduled to be treated to mantras by four young women at a local Sanskrit school.

Rajuji, Rachna, me, Alok and Jyotsana at Kashivishwanath Yog Peeth.

4. Recorded a show for Sunbeam School’s East Meets West program, where I played the role of . . . Oprah!  Ha!  Actually, come to think of it, I was voted ‘Most Likely to Have a Talk Show’ in the second grade . . . so maybe this debut wasn’t such a surprise!

The school where I did a voice recording as Oprah. Facilities were *impressive*!

5. Wrote, narrarated and somewhat hosted a documentary about the seva project and where India stands in the global green movement. Whether or not the production company will actually make the documentary happen, only time will tell . . .

An early morning shoot ... after a lot of disorganized chaos!

Dev Depawli and partner yoga were two other surprises I feel lucky to have experienced.

The second Depawli, full of lights, yummy street food and music!

So, just a few asana photos, articles and websites to show for my hardwork in Kashi.  But more importantly, Imade some very good friends who I know I’ll be seeing again in future.  And, at least according to the people I’ve spoken to so far, helped ignite a fire in this city that will continue to burn – projects and programs are being planned for well into the future.

I love you, Varanasi!

Hours after the long Ganga cleanup ... whew!

Now, on to Madurai for 4 weeks of my teacher training re-do (a lot of this is review for me, but necessary for the advanced course in February – check out the Sivananda curriculum to see what it’s all about!)

The ashram doesn’t have an internet connection sadly, and I can’t make outgoing calls.  But I am on my mobile!

Not that we have loads of time in the day …. I’ve been busy with this (rather ambitious) training schedule:

  • 5:30 am: Wake up
  • 6:00 am: Satsang (Meditation, chanting, lecture)
  • 8:00 am: Asanas
  • 9:00 am: Anatomy and physiology
  • 10:00 am: Wake up
  • 11:00 am: Karma Yoga (helping out with chores)
  • 12:00 pm: Bhagavad Gita or Kirtan
  • 2:00 pm: Main lecture in philosophy or anatomy
  • 4:00 pm: Asanas and pranayama
  • 6:00 pm: Dinner
  • 7:30 pm: Satsang (Meditation, chanting, lecture)
  • 10:00 pm: Lights out

But keep tuning in for updates, and drop me a hello if you have any suggestions for future blogs from India.  Love!  

 

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My “to-do list” in Varanasi looked a little something like this:

1.       Find my way to full expression of asanas: purna nataraj, vrshchkasana,

2.       Complete a seva for Varanasi, clean Ma Ganga

3.       Keep up with the bloggy blogs

4.       Finish a chapter in my online philosophy course

5.       Build website for yoga business in New York

6.       Work on Rajuji’s website for OM SHANTI YOGA NIKETAN

Guess how many I actually completed!  One. Just the one. With the help of my teacher, Rachna at Gandiv and Mr. Madhok of Jago Banaras, I successfully offered seva to Varansi through a cleanup event that seems to have made quite a splash in the city.  As a direct result of this “to-do,” five surprise experiences blossomed instead of what I’d originally planned:

1.       Wrote, narrarated and somewhat hosted a documentary about the seva project and where India stands in the global green movement. Whether or not the production company will actually make the documentary happen, only time will tell . . .

2.       Held an official press conference for the seva event and was later interviewed on a local TV show.  If I’d known this would be such a media-heavy trip, I’d have brought nicer clothes!

3.       Am being featured in a book called “Yoga Planet” by a Swedish journalist and yogini (like me!), Magdalena —–.  She and her photographer Jonas took quite a few photos at the studio and hopefully my advice on where to practice asana, pranayam and meditation will be finding its way into the pages of this one!

4.       Was honored by members of Varanasi’s community at Kashivishwanath Yog Peeth, where media and guests were scheduled to be treated to mantras by four young women at a local Sanskrit school.

5.       Recorded a show for Sunbeam School’s East Meets West program, where I played the role of . . . Oprah!  Ha!  Actually, come to think of it, I was voted ‘Most Likely to Have a Talk Show’ in the second grade . . . so maybe this debut wasn’t such a surprise!

Dev Depawli and partner yoga were two other surprises I feel lucky to have experienced.

So, just a few asana photos, articles and websites to show for my hardwork in Kashi.  But more importantly, I’ve made some very good friends who I know I’ll be seeing again in future.  And, at least according to the people I’ve spoken to so far, helped ignite a fire in this city that will continue to burn through projects and programs well into the future.

I love you, Varanasi!

Now, on to Madurai for 4 weeks of Sivananda teacher training.  It’s actually where I’m writing this blog right now!  No internet connection for me out here, sadly, and I’ll be incredibly busy with my schedule:

But keep tuning in for updates, and drop me a hello if you have any suggestions for future blogs from India.  Love!

JoJournal: Servin’ It Up Proper

If you’ve been following my blog, you know how I feel about Varanasi.

This is my third visit to India’s jewel on the Ganga, specifically to learn yoga at Om Shanti Yoga Niketan.  Before landing, I had it in my mind to offer a  seva (service) to the community here.  Seva is an important aspect in dharmic religions where service to another is an indirect service to the Divine. It’s a proven fact, giving feels good, not just to the recipient but to the giver as well!    And sometimes,  if you add all the right ingredients, it can provide a community with something they desperately needed, or with knowledge that will change their lives forever.

With the help of Rajuji, my teacher, I’ve had the honor of meeting some very special individuals around Varanasi.

Ganga arti (ceremony at the river!)

Though my asana practice has taken a back burner to my karma yoga mission, and my nostrils are full of black soot from jetting about town on rickshaws all day, though my phone ear is ringing and my smile-muscles are kaputz, I can go to bed feeling like a million bucks today.

Samaj Seva: Kashi Ganga Cleanup

On November 20th, at 9am, tourists, citizens and local organization members will gather together at Dasaswamedh Ghat to clean Ma Ganga and the surrounding streets and alleyways.  In addition to cleaning the city, our group will be passing around a petition for the government to better regulate the import of already-banned plastic bags in the city.  By raising awareness about the littering problem here, and placing bins along the walkways and ghats, we hope to inspire long-term sustainable change in one of India’s most treasured cities.

<Read the official press release here.>

It Takes a Village

I’m overwhelmed by the encouragement, media support, and cooperation by local luminaries. After several meetings, it was decided the best hook was to position the seva event around foreign concern – that’s why I feature so prominently in the press release.  Whatever gets the right people’s attention!

So far, the International Shiv Shakti Yoga Association has agreed to teach a yoga class to our volunteers.  The Gandiva Hindi Daily, Varanasi’s leading evening newspaper, is assisting us with flier printouts to promote the day amongst tourists.  Jago Banaras & Sunbeam Schools Varanasi have generously offered 100 cadets, brooms and dustbins.  The Sahara Network is already advertising the day on their television program, and an impromptu visit from The Lions Club in another meeting resulted in their support as well.

And as a sweet ‘lil cherry on top, Soul Creation Productions is planning a documentary on the effort, in the context of India’s role in the global green movement.

Wow!

On top of all this, I’m now writing and narrating a script with the production company, teaching students at a Sunbeam school about the environmental and health concerns surrounding litter, as well as donating my time as a writing workshop leader.  Creativity, service, passion and determination collide!

I was in good company all day, and finished the evening with a short but sweet asana class.  Exactly what I needed after all the tea and chat!

Wish us luck at the press conference tomorrow . . . can’t say I’ve ever done one of those before (at least not on the other side of the camera)!

Websites Galore!

I’m sick at home – yet again, cheers, kids! – so I figured I may as well make this time productive.  As seva to three of my teachers, two in India, one in Tucson, I’ve created for them brand spankin’ new websites!

Most recently completed is the site for Lisa Schrempp, the only teacher in Arizona certified to teach Ashtanga in the state of Arizona. Lisa’s passion for and dedication to the yogic path has been a true inspiration to me as a student and teacher. Her old site will soon be featuring the new site, created by yours truly, using WordPress. It’s nothing fancy, and we’re still working out kinks here and there, but she’s happy with the improvement so I am feeling very happy today!

Before that, I created a site for my teacher in Rishikesh, Surinder Singh, a Sikh family man who made the jump from being a professional engineer to a full time yoga teacher. As I’m in this transition phase, his advice has been so nurturing and helpful. On top of that, he is one the most joyful and gentle souls I have ever been blessed to meet.

And the first of the seva websites was for Raju Vajpayee – asana gold medalist, teacher of children, models, tourists, and the infirm. Raju is a fireball of yogic tapas, igniting one’s practice with a unique channeling of pitta-tinted love!  Raju is the owner and director of Om Shanti Yoga Niketan in Banares, the oldest lived-in city in India. I happened across his teaching space and in just a few visits he had assisted me into postures I’d never dreamed of doing on my own – and made quite an accurate summation of a second chakra imbalance I’d been concerned with at the time! He’s an intellectual, a healer, a family man, an awesome yoga teacher, and I’m proud to call him my friend.

Collaborations are being contemplated but the idea for these sites came way before any talks about opening teacher training schools or touring together.  I have a feeling those possibilities were the flowers of this seva’s planting.  Seva seeds.  Works every time!  :o) *

*What the heck is ‘seva’?  The sanskrit word means ‘service, working for the benefit of others.’