Toronto: Forget the yoga mat. For a group of Toronto yogis, what’s important is taking the message out of the studio and changing the world.
“As yogis, what we want to do is always the leave the world as a better place,” says Salimah Kassim-Lakha, director of Yoga Without Borders, which is hosting its first Take Action summit on Saturday at the ING Direct Café on Yonge St.
“There’s so much more to be had from yoga than just sweating on your mat. There’s also a spiritual practice, a meditative practice and the practice of selfless service.”
The idea behind the summit is to bring together yoga organizations committed to social service and grassroots activism along with experts in networking and fundraising to help get their message out. Networking guru Donna Messer and social media expert Syerah Virani will be among the speakers.
“The idea is to gather and pool our resources,” says Kassim-Lakha, calling it an opportunity to create a network that will be supportive and motivating.
“A lot of times grassroots activists stay within their own circles and don’t hear about what others are doing. We end up reinventing the wheel, over and over again.”
Among the seven organizations participating are: Freeing the Human Spirit, which has created a yoga program for Canadian inmates; Off the Mat into the World, which has recently focused on raising funds for Haiti; and Sangha of Hope, which uses trauma-sensitive yoga to help female survivors of physical, mental and sexual violence.
“It’s great to bring all of these leaders together and create a sense of community, so we can build on our initiatives and help each other,” says Joanna Morrison, founder of Sangha of Hope. It’s also important to heighten awareness about what the various organizations are doing, she adds.
With just 60 spots, the event is already sold out, but the summit will be streamed online via LiveStream at livestream.com/yogawithoutborders.
Yoga Without Borders is a Toronto-based organization dedicated to social change.
Its primary focus now is eradicating institutionalized violence against women and girls worldwide, says Kassim-Lakha, referring to the use of rape as a weapon of war, forced migration and sex trafficking.
“Our way of achieving this goal is to share expertise, resources and networks with other organizations for social innovation and justice.”