Yoga practice is not only asana (posture) practice, it should also happen off the mat in your daily life. Ashtanga yoga has eight limbs whereof asana is only one. Practicing the other eight is of equal importantce. Yama and Niyama, the two first limbs of Ashtanga yoga, include advice on how to think about and act towards yourself and others. An important part of yoga practice is to care for others and to give back to the community. This is called Karma Yoga or “Seva” – which means selfless service.
The word Karma means action, work, endeavour, or the results of past deeds. In yoga philosophy it is believed that our present situation is based on our past actions. By taking actions to help others without the aim of any personal gain we change our attitudes towards the better and in the process, change our souls. This leads to a future free from negativity and selfishness and a change of our destiny.
Seva, should be done without any selfish purpose or attachment to the fruits/results of the action taken. Doing Seva, giving back to society, can be done in many ways, big or small. If one does not have the monetary means one can help by doing small daily gestures and actions towards fellow human beings or engage in charity work. The Baghavad Gita (one of the most important texts in Yoga) says:
“No effort ever goes to waste in selfless service, and there is no adverse effect.” (BG ch2.40).
Over the years Ashtanga Yoga Malmö (Isabella) has been involved in volunteer work with organisations such as Project Air (yoga tuition of genocide survivors) and Odanadi (trustee 2010). Both organisations work for women’s (and children’s) rights in Rwanda and India respectively. You can read more about them by clicking on the links above.
In 2015 Ashtanga Yoga Malmö also arranged a fund raiser for Syrian refugees that contributed to the Swedish campaign “På Flykt” led by Radiohjälpen.
In 2016 Ashtanga Yoga Malmö teamed up with Yogashala Stockholm to help support the work of V-Care Mysuru (Vision for Culture, Arts, and Research Enhancement); a small NGO based in Mysore India. V-Care works for social change and the empowerment of girls and young children though cultural, arts and musical projects. The organisation is run by Kumudini, wife of Stanly who is the director of Odanadi (see above). Every school-year V-Care organises holiday camps for children from the poorest villages around Mysore. Through playful activities the children are trained in gender equality and respect. V-Care also helps children, mainly girls from the most vulnerable groups in society, to receive adequate schooling. Young women are also given vocational training in sewing etc. to be able to become self-sufficient.
In cooperation with Yogashala Stockholm we have founded the sister-organisation V-Care Sweden in order to help raise awareness for V-Care. We regularly arrange special fundraising events to sponsor V-Care and it’s work with children in caste-less communities in the outskirts of Mysore. Our planned planned events are to be found the events calendar. If you’re interested in knowing more or want to help/donate, please contact us. Swedish donors may send contributions through swish 123 576 46 91. Read more about V-Care below.
V-CARE STANDS FOR 'VISION FOR CULTURE, ARTS AND RESEARCH ENHANCEMENT'
V-Care is a non-profit organisation based in Mysore that was founded in June 2009. It works to create a better world for children and young people in India and for them to grow up in a safe, secure and developing environment. V-Care offers education (basic and vocational), healthcare, personal development and cultural activities to specifically vulnerable groups at the margins of Indian society. V-Care’s also arranges summer camps for children from poor villages. The camps offer art, music and theatre classes through which the children are taught about equality, self-empowerment and respect. These camps have produced very positive results and the enthusiasm of the children has spread to the parents.
V-CARE'S FOCUS AREAS
The foundation's chairman is Dr. Kumudini Achchi, Assistant Professor and Social Worker at the Department of Social Work Studies at JSS College in Mysore. Kumundini is also a professional dancer. Kumudini and her husband Stanly are very passionate about helping the most vulnerable people in society and they are constantly working against dark forces in India. But despite the headwind they make a difference every day and they never give up.
In the spring of 2010, Isabella became involved with the first Yoga Stops Traffick event ever organised in London in support of Odanadi, an anti-trafficking organisation based in Mysore India. The event of 108 sun salutations was held in several countries as well as in the square in front of the Mysore Palace. Through the event and people at Triyoga London, Isabella came into contact with the board of Odanadi UK and was selected a board member (a post she had to leave upon her move back to Sweden in the end of 2011). Since 2010 the Yoga Stops Traffick campaign has grown and each year yoga schools all over the world join the 108 sun salutations to raise funds for Odanadi.
When Isabella in 2012 travelled to Mysore, India, she visited the Odanadi headquarters and the orphanage where the young women and children rescued from trafficking get a refuge and rehabilitation. She met with the founders Stanly and Parashu and some of the children and has returned to visit every year she’s travelled to Mysore – sometimes teaching the children a yoga class or helping to create a permaculture garden to ensure the orphanage’s self-sufficiency in fruits and vegetables. She continued to raise funds in support of Odanadi through annual Yoga Stops Traffick events at the shalas in Lund and Malmö.
During a trip to Mysore in 2015 Stanley asked Isabella to begin supporting his wife Kumundini's organisation V-CARE. A year later during a joint stay in Mysore with Lisa Lalér from Yogashala Stockholm we decided to team up and support V-Care together. A few months later we founded V-Care Sweden to help raise funds for V-Care Mysuru in Sweden. With the funds we’ve collected throughout the years we’ve been able to support schooling and help with homework for children from the untouchable cast in the suburbs of Mysore. The donations collected have paid for a teacher to teach the children in the villages. In order to get the children and parents motivated to come to the lessons, a nutritious meal has also been included on each occasion.
The funds collected have also helped hire a counsellor to identify children who are socially vulnerable in the local schools around Mysore in order to prevent abuse and trafficking. The children from the lowest castes often live in terrible misery and are often at risk of violence, abuse and trafficking. The houses in the villages where they live lack toilets and the needs are done in a nearby field. This means that children and young girls are exposed to great risks of being assaulted and raped every time they go to the toilet. In the “untouchables” village there are only small muddy roads and people are very isolated. V-Care puts in important efforts to create positive change for these people through knowledge, education, empowerment and hygiene. To help young women become self-sufficient V-Care empowers them through vocational training which minimises their vulnerability to being trafficked as maids or sex-slaves.
Even with small funds, we and all of Ashtanga Yoga Malmö and Yogashala Stockholm’s students continue to contribute to creating a future for these children and young people; a future that all children should have a right to. Your contributions at our regular yoga events, breakfasts and product sales are invaluable to keep V-Care’s important work running. Thank you for helping make a difference!