The Karma Yoga Fund helps make yoga available for those in the Twin Cities who would not otherwise have access to it. Through Yoga Study Karma Projects and free classes (or privates) for the chronic and terminally ill, we hope to spread health and hope to those in need. Funds are raised through our Friday night donation classes at St. Louis Park (all are welcome to attend), as well as general donations from the general public*.

Donations

At YCM
Attend the 6pm Friday night Hatha Donation class (min donation $5) or give what you are able to support our efforts to provide classes to those in the community with cancer, aids, and other life-threatening or chronic conditions who because of economic circumstances could not otherwise afford yoga instruction.

In the Community
The Yoga Center of Minneapolis is dedicated to supporting give-back opportunities in the community. Our teacher trainees have been in the community offering free classes to various social organizations. If you would like to make a donation to one of these worthy causes, please click on the link below:

Wilderness Inquiry - Wilderness Inquiry (WI) is a non-profit organization that helps people from all walks of life to personally experience the natural world. "We believe there is nothing like being there to fully appreciate the environment and the people we share it with. Each year we operate more than 100 multi-day trips to locations around the world. In addition to these trips, we offer a variety of daylong programs, training sessions and other events."
Women of Nations - Domestic abuse shelter, crisis intervention, and advocacy for Native American and all families in Minnesota.
The Bridge - Since 1970, The Bridge for Youth has played a critical role as our community's 24-hour access point for youth and families in need, directly accessible without waiting lists, fees or red tape.
Youthlink - Youthlink specializes in the multiple needs of homeless and precariously housed youth (14-21). Street outreach, emergency crisis assistance, basic needs support, case management, housing support services, education, career/life transition planning and health and wellness are key areas of agency focus.
YogaBear - YCM donates classes through YogaBear, a community of cancer survivors, yogis, health professionals, and volunteers across the nation. By partnering with local yoga studios, YOGABEAR matches cancer survivors with yoga classes in their community free of charge to provide participants with comfortable surroundings and healthy activity to promote quality of life and survivorship. If you're a post-treatment cancer survivor interested in receiving free yoga classes at YCM, please visit the YogaBear website and fill out the Yoga Bear Participation Form. To financially support the Yoga Bear program, attend our 6pm Friday night Hatha Donation Class at the SLP Studio. (Donations go to Yoga Bear and trainee karma projects.)

Teacher Trainee (Yoga Study) Karma Projects

Since its inception in 2001, YCM's Teacher Training program has incorporated a Karma Yoga component in to its curriculum. Near the end of their training, Yoga Study students are asked to give back to the community by planning and running a community outreach event for a population that would not otherwise have access to yoga. Below chronicles the service projects of each group. If you work for a non-profit or group that is interested in working with us, please email becky@yogacentermpls.com. To financially support these projects (with yoga props, etc), please attend a 6pm Hatha Donation class Fridays at the SLP Studio, or make a donation to the studio. Some past Yoga Study students share their experiences:

Yoga Study 14
In 2008, YS14 organized a program for the girls and boys at the the Hennepin County Home School. "We thought that yoga for juvenile teens might bring them some sense of belonging and help them to better deal with all the stresses they face. We tried to provide an environment where they would also have a sense of community and togetherness while participating in the project. We had wonderful feedback and the kids were awesome to work with!"

Yoga Study 15
Details Coming Soon

Yoga Study 16
In 2009, YS16 taught yoga to full-time AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers. These volunteers have dedicated a year of service to those in poverty for little reward other than the satisfaction of having helped people in their community. "We are focusing on four different organizations who employ AmeriCorps members: the Minnesota Literacy Council, Admission Possible, Reading Corps, and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. Serving as a full-time volunteer for a year is a great commitment, and one which largely goes unnoticed and unrewarded. This will be a great morale booster, especially since February and March seem to be the busiest months for non-profits."

Yoga Study 17
YS17 students had an inspiring opportunity to work with the Chrysalis facility in Minneapolis, now merged with Tubman Family Alliance and renamed the Tubman organization. The Tubman environment helps women, children, and families struggling with relationship violence, substance abuse, and mental health issues, and provides them with a safe shelter, legal guidance, and counseling services. Their mission is to guide families and individuals from a life of chaos and fear to that of healing and restoration. Students provided classes twice a week for eight weeks to serve both an afternoon and evening population. Staff members and individuals looking for holistic healing said they found the classes relaxing, informative, and useful. Their enthusiasm carried week to week as they came in discussing various homework assignments on postures and practices they could try at home for the week after each yoga class. YS17 and Tubman are presently discussing how the karma yoga program will continue at Chrysalis and other facilities across the Twin Cities after the initial eight weeks have been completed.

Yoga Study 18
"Our group worked with the Southdale YMCA partners with Minnesota Life College located in Richfield to offer evening activities for their students. Minnesota LIfe College is a vocational and life skills training program for young adults with learning differences and autism spectrum disorders. The students are between the ages of 18 and 24 years and one of the activities they can pick from is yoga. I have been asked to teach a 6-week session on Monday evenings starting in September." -Linda Crable

Yoga Study 19
In the fall of 2009 the YS19 students had an opportunity to work with the group YouthLink. YouthLink's story began over 30 years ago as the Minneapolis Youth Diversion Program (MYDP), a unit of the Hennepin Area Youth Diversion Programs of Hennepin County. MYDP changed its name to YouthLink in 2001 realizing its mission to connect with youth in a whole new way. Today, YouthLink acts as community central for youth who are homeless, struggling with their education, or need advocacy to continue life's path. Their mission is to empower youth to shape their futures by providing a safe, supportive, respectful and responsive community of excellence. YS19 students provided yoga classes for eight weeks for staff and youth. We had wonderful feedback and the kids and staff have been awesome to work with! Those who attended class worked very hard and got their hearts into it as well as their bodies.

Yoga Study 20
YS20 offered separate classes for adults and classes for families- at Resource West. The classes were well-attended and the students loved learning about yoga and experiencing its benefits. Resource West is a non-profit organization that was organized by the city of Hopkins and individuals to offer services to families in need. The center is a diverse operation offering services ranging from counseling and youth education to provision of food and coats through drives. The center was built as the community discussed the inability for families and individuals in need to find and access the help they needed. The concept is to have it in one location to help simplify and organize their lives.

Yoga Study 23
YS 23 has had the amazing opportunity to bring yoga to the Aliveness Project during the summer of 2010. The Aliveness Project was founded in 1985 to be a source of empowerment, services and support for those living with HIV and AIDS. The Aliveness Project has developed an innovative set of direct services and programs to address the needs of it members, including a Hot Meal program that runs 6 days a week, a Food Shelf, Meetings and Speakers for education and support, Complementary Therapies, including acupuncture, massage, chiropractic and energy healing, and Case Management. The YS 23 ladies researched and discussed the unique physical and emotional challenges of people living with HIV and AIDS and developed a gentle yet detoxifying Hatha based curriculum. Aliveness was very supportive of us coming and provided us space to teach classes 2 nights a week for 8 weeks. Most of the members that participated in the class had never done any form of yoga, but were enthusiastic to learn! It was very rewarding to watch the members learn, grow and develop their practice over the course of the 8 weeks. Many of the YS 23rs taught their very first yoga class at Aliveness and all the instructors did an awesome job! In addition to providing yoga, the YS 23 ladies were able to make a donation of 14 mats and 3 ladies created and left illustrated flash cards with benefits, drawings, and instructions for the poses we taught, in hopes that members would be able to continue their practice after the Karma Project was over!

Yoga Study 29
My group started a Karma Yoga Project at Hometown Senior Living. Itís a private residence where people who need full time care can live and get the support they need. Most, if not all, of the residents have memory issues of some sort and most were in wheelchairs or had some sort of limited mobility.

Doing yoga with this group was wonderful and itís a true testament to how yoga can work for pretty much anyone. We did a lot of simple movements to help them move their limbs and their trunks with simple twists and movements linked with breath. The goal was to work into as many joints of the body as possible to find their current range of motion and to bring movement into each of those areas to help keep them a little more limber.

We had some humorous moments when some didnít know the date or where they were but they could inhale and lift up their arms and they were sweet as anything. Those moments were so heartwarming and touching. This project challenged us to use our training and to make adjustments as we went based on what we saw they could or could not do either because of injuries, illness or simply from being in a wheelchair. It had us thinking on our feet and opening our hearts to the progression of life and how yoga can bless us all in any stage of being. Karma indeed. -Krista Boos

Yoga Study 30
As part of the Yoga Study Teacher Training Program at YCM, students are asked to create and run yoga programs for those who would not otherwise have access to it because of physical, social, or economic constraints. To date there have been students from 40 graduating classes who have run yoga programs for various populations and organizations, tailoring the offerings for the specific needs of their students.

My fellow teacher trainees started working with autistic teens through St. Davidís Center at the Jewish Community Center. Weíve had instructors volunteering consistently since last summer. Itís been a very rewarding experience, and great to learn how to teach to diverse populations, and get them active in creative and fun ways. Definitely a challenge, but always leaves me with a smile. -Sofia Lorraine

Yoga Study 32
Our group began working with Partnership Resources, Inc. (an adult day program for persons with disabilities) in October 2011, and I continue to teach yoga there once a week. -Sue Myers

Several members of my training group offered yoga classes to any interested residents of Nicollet Square, a subsidized housing complex for youth either coming out of homelessness or the foster care system (built by the Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation and operated together with YouthLink and HIRED). Several of us offered classes the year following our graduation, and I continue to teach there. -Martha McLaughlin

Yoga Study 34
My karma yoga project was at Families Moving Forward. These families are in transition from homeless shelters to homes. They are overworked, underpaid and on the cusp of a big change.

We were scheduled to cook for and eat with the families and then offer yoga to both the children and their parents. What ultimately went down was much different. We ate with the families, but the parents went to their rooms to rest, shortly thereafter, leaving their children with us. I do believe a few people expressed interest in yoga, but for a majority of the time, we simply provided child care.

Frustrated at first, I felt like we werenít actually fulfilling our karma project. But that quickly shifted into a lesson in attachment. We may have not been offering asana to these families, but we were offering something valuable: for the parents, a much needed respite. For the kids, play time, laughter, love and a connection. At the end of the day, this is the point of yoga -- the practice of being present and offering what ever you can to the current moment. -Tatum Fjerstad

Yoga Study 37
Our Yoga Study group had a wonderful experience designing and teaching classes to a group of 6-11 year olds at the Plymouth Youth Center in North Minneapolis. Talk about energy! The spirit of those great kids captured all of our hearts. The kids loved it and the staff did too! -Rosie Hansen & Marjorie Grevious

Yoga Study 40
I appreciated the opportunity to teach Yoga at the Goodwill. My first time was assisting the class, which gave me an understanding of the students. We had several folks that had special needs, a deaf person and one with a arm that was unable to move. On my second visit I had the opportunity to teach my first class with some who were new to yoga. It was a great experience the students were open and accepting. They provided feedback that they wanted to move slow so I followed there instructions. I focused on breath and acceptance of where we are. Meg and Harry did a great job assisting and supporting me. I was honored to be teaching in an environment where there was great need and appreciation. The class sent me a thank you for teaching them how to breathe. Thank you for including this in the teaching program! -Susan Helmbrecht

Yoga Study 42
The karma yoga project at Hazelden was really rewarding. Our groups ranged from four or five to more than ten students on a couple of occasions, and a surprising number of men attended. Hazelden uses a twelve-step approach to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, which blends well with yoga traditions. Meditation is an important part of their recoveries, so the people who attended our classes were really receptive to the process and liked knowing that yoga is a tool they can use toward improving their own meditation practices. In the end, all the red tape and paperwork was worth it. Director Kellie Lund told me she would welcome us back to teach any time, and that she will be proposing adding a budget for regular on-site yoga classes at the St. Paul facility in the near future. -Caroline Burau

*The Karma Yoga Program is not yet a 501(c)3, so donations are currently not tax deductible, but still greatly appreciated. Look for our non-profit status in the future!