Celebrating International Yoga Day with Yoga Gives Back

Yoga made me realize that my body is a temple. I am responsible to take care of it so that I can serve others. This was a profound awakening. It also made me realize that practicing yoga is not a selfish act but rather essential if I want to continue to serve others.

What is yoga to you?

YOGA is the anchor and light in my life, which totally changed my life. I was a documentary film maker for most of my adult life for nearly 30 years, producing TV programs for Japanese National Public TV on current affair issues. Once I found yoga, it changed my life. I eventually quit my job to dedicate my life for Yoga Gives Back. YOGA grounds me to the core on a daily basis with meditation and asana practices. Slowing my breath and clearing my head is the most important effect of YOGA in my life. It teaches me mind-body connection and therefore, it makes my goal of living well fundamentally meaningful.

How did you get started with yoga?

My friend took me to my first yoga class almost fifteen years ago, which was Kundalini yoga with Gurmukh at Golden Bridge, near my home in Los Angeles. I was very happy to find that YOGA offered not only physical but also spiritual practice as a goal. I got interested in learning more about YOGA and started exploring various different classes for a few years, till I found Ashtanga Yoga which totally hooked me into more regular asana practices as well as a deeper spiritual journey.

What impact has yoga had on your life?

Yoga made me realize that my body is a temple. I am responsible to take care of it so that I can serve others. This was a profound awakening. It also made me realize that practicing yoga is not a selfish act but rather essential if I want to continue to serve others.

How have you seen yoga impact the lives of others?

I continue to receive yoga practitioners’ messages expressing how grateful they are for yoga in their lives and therefore want to give back to India. This shows how YOGA is impacting many lives around the world. YGB is shared now in more than 20 countries, with more than 150 Global Ambassadors (including Kino and Tim) and hundreds of volunteers, raising awareness and funds for YGB’s mission. YGB’s growth shows YOGA’s impact in many lives.

Can you tell us more about Yoga Gives Back?

Yoga Gives Back (YGB) is a Los Angeles based nonprofit organization, which engages global yoga communities with gratitude to give back to Mother India, for the gift of yoga we have received.

We raise awareness and funds to empower underserved women and children in India. YGB is unique in uniting all yoga practitioners regardless of branch or school with one simple cause, GRATITUDE. I am proud that we have been able to reach out to yoga communities in more than 20 countries which support nearly 1400 underserved women and children in Karnataka and West Bengal, India through micro loans and education funds.

YGB is also unique in connecting our global supporters directly to the fund recipients in India through regular updates of their stories with photos and videos on social media and regular news letters, so global supporters can see how everyone’s contributions are truly making tremendous difference in our recipients’ lives.

We also offer dozens of short documentary YGB FILMS which I have been filming and producing since 2007 to share how so many lives have been transformed with their dreams coming true. We empower ourselves by empowering others. That is a truly wonderful lesson.

What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced in the world of yoga?

I have been most inspired with the incredible response Yoga Gives Back has received since the start in 2007 from so many yogis around the world. This is the testament that the world of yoga is filled with compassionate souls that can make a real difference in this world if we can come together.

What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?

Yoga has unfortunately become a symbol of capitalism. Many yoga businesses accelerate consumerism and competition rather than introducing and emphasizing compassion or the real goal of YOGA to be united with all and relinquish the self-centered ego. I am always so grateful for our sponsors like Omstars who continue to believe in our mission and share it with their own community. YGB has been blessed that a growing list of yoga and wellness businesses support our mission. Their support has been critical for our sustainable operation.

What do you feel is your dharma–your life mission?

My life mission is to engage One Million Yogis throughout the world to grow YGB into a more sustainable nonprofit organization that can empower thousands or millions more underserved women and children in India to empower themselves and build sustainable livelihoods.

Are there any current projects or upcoming events that you are able to share with our community?

“International Yoga Day” Global Campaign is taking place over the weekend of June 21. While many of us are blessed to have yoga practice that sustains us at this difficult time, many women and children in India are struggling for their lives due to enormous stress added by the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown and the catastrophic Cyclone Amphan (May 20) in West Bengal. India’s COVID-19 nation-wide lock down has caused 500 impoverished mothers of YGB’s micro loans programs in rural villages of West Bengal to lose their jobs and daily income. Many of 700 young girls under YGB’s education programs are facing their family’s financial pressure to drop out of school and get married.

Cyclone Amphan hit the rural villages outside of Kolkata very hard. Many of our 1200 fund recipients in the region lost their homes. They need to rebuild everything. India has generously given the world the eternal gift of yoga. It is our goal to create a community of #OneMillionYogis to give back especially at this time. Host, take a class, or simply donate whatever you can. I am grateful that so many YGB Global Ambassadors have expressed their support and are hosting or donating classes to inspire many yoga teachers around the world to do the same.


Check YGB Global Calendar for all class listings


Live Classes with Omstars Teachers


Our goal is to raise $50,000 with this global campaign to ensure our assistance to urgent relief needs to rebuild lives as well as YGB’s micro loan and education programs to empower under-served women and children. Are you in? It’s easy.

Host one class: 

a- Register your event
b- Download Event Tool Kit

     (YGB logoFlyer TemplatePress Kit)
 c- Promote Your Event
(YGB will post your event on Global Calendar and Social Media)

d- Use this link for direct donation or payment
* If you use this link for all donation payments, make sure that your event’s attendees mention the host teacher’s name in this payment form.

Let’s come together as the force of #OneMillionYogis!

Additionally, there are two other ways to have immediate impact:

Thank you in advance for your contribution and support of the under-served women and children in India. Any inquiries, please write to info@yogagivesback.org. Namaste.

By Kayoko Mitsumatsu, Founder of Yoga Gives Back.org