• Everyday Joy of Yoga Challenge

    Sometimes it feels like you ask yourself a million questions. “Is there anything I could have done?” You would drive yourself crazy if you asked yourself that because what ifs, should haves, and could haves, don’t matter. What does matter is that you are still here, living, breathing, and you have a purpose. The best thing you can do, in my opinion, is to live. Live so fully for them. Find happiness again even if it takes a long time. Live each and every day trying to find some sort of light even if it’s a small joy that you feel or a fleeting smile. Find a way to bring happiness back into your life and live for them. I like to think of all the joy they brought to my life and allow that to spark a fire within me to move forward, one day at a time.

    TRIGGER WARNING

    When I was little, I was told my grandfather died before I was born but I never knew how. I didn’t really understand death when I was little, and I never thought anything of asking about how he died. My grandma lived with me my whole life and she never brought it up until I was older. She would occasionally tell a funny story about him or show me their wedding photos but I never thought to ask. I knew he died when my mom was 13 and that is about all I knew.

    As I got older, my grandma decided to tell me what had happened. My grandma had the softest, wrinkly, veiny, little hands and she pulled me onto her lap on her big comfy blue chair, held me with those cute little hands of hers and told me the truth about my grandfather. My grandfather, whom I never met, took his own life in his own house while my mom was home. He had suffered from depression. I remember feeling extremely confused and I wondered how he could leave them behind. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I was still pretty young and didn’t really understand depression. As I got older, I knew so many people who suffered from depression and I also knew so many people who lost loved ones to suicide.

    Growing up, my grandma watched the movie “It’s a wonderful life” every Christmas and she always told me how it was her favorite movie. I had never cared at the time to watch it as it was black and white and I always wanted to watch the Grinch. It wasn’t until after my grandma passed away, in my senior year of high school, that I finally watched the movie and I cried. I understood why it was her favorite and why she chose to watch that movie over and over. If you haven’t seen the movie, (spoiler alert) it’s about a guy who thinks his family would be better off without him and he thinks about taking his own life. Before he does, an angel shows up and shows him how many lives he has impacted by living, how many people he has helped, and all the good he has done and he chooses not to go through with it. I believe she watched it over and over because she had always felt that she wished her husband could have known all the lives he impacted, all the good he had done.

    Suicide, has changed the way I speak around my mother about death. She was affected so deeply at such a young age that I am always careful of the words I choose. When my mother and all her siblings lost my grandfather, a lot of their community turned them away. They abandoned them because there was such a stigma around mental health. My mom had a boyfriend at that time. His mother, even banned her son from seeing my mom out of fear “she would have a disease too.” When I first heard about this I felt such disappointment. How could their community turn around on them when they needed it the most? My grandma was left to feed 5 kids alone while working three jobs and no one wanted to help because of fear.

    A few years ago, I lost another loved one to suicide. My brother introduced me to this amazing man that he would call his fiancé. He had this incredible energy that lit up every room. He really taught me to live life to the fullest. He had an amazing support system as well. There were tons of people that loved him. I remember getting that phone call and completely falling apart. I couldn’t grasp as to why these things happen. I couldn’t understand the pain that the people I loved would have to feel. I cherish all of the moments we had together and look back now with a smile at how he lived while he was here.

    Sometimes it feels like you ask yourself a million questions. “Is there anything I could have done?” You would drive yourself crazy if you asked yourself that because what ifs, should haves, and could haves, don’t matter. What does matter is that you are still here, living, breathing, and you have a purpose. The best thing you can do, in my opinion, is to live. Live so fully for them. Find happiness again even if it takes a long time. Live each and every day trying to find some sort of light even if it’s a small joy that you feel or a fleeting smile. Find a way to bring happiness back into your life and live for them. I like to think of all the joy they brought to my life and allow that to spark a fire within me to move forward, one day at a time.

    I know so many people who have also lost so many to suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2017, there were 47,173 Americans that died by suicide. We put such a stigma on mental health that sometimes people are afraid to ask for help. We have to change the way we look at mental health issues and raise awareness about how common it is and how it is ok to ask for help. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors can be reduced with the proper mental health support and treatment. We should encourage those around us to ask for help when they need it.

    This members only challenge that we are having on Omstars starting on May 1st is to raise money and awareness for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Please join us in raising money and awareness for this amazing foundation whose mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. For every person who signs up to join the challenge, Omstars will be donating $1 to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, up to $1000. Plus, you can win some amazing prizes from our generous sponsors, Omstars and In The Moment magazine, while spreading awareness for Suicide Prevention.

    During this 9 day challenge, each class is designed to target a different part of the body, or a different style of practice. These classes range from a warm-up/morning yoga class, to a core-focused class, and even to a restorative practice. Practice along each day for 9 days and share your pose of the day on Instagram with the hashtag #EverydayJoyOfYoga and help us spread awareness for Suicide Prevention. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a list of Warning signs and Risk factors. https://afsp.org/about-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs/

    If you or a loved one is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or text the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741

    By Kaitlyn Kreitzman

    Kaitlyn started practicing yoga in high school to combat the high demands of school work, sports, and life in New York. It was an on and off practice until college where she really became dedicated to making time on her mat daily. After realizing the amazing benefits of a yoga practice, and watching them become a reality in her life, Kaitlyn wanted to share this practice with others. She received her 200-hour RYT in 2015 from Urban Bliss Yoga In North Carolina. She taught on her college campus and in studios around the area of Fairfield Connecticut. After she graduated with a B.A. in Graphic Design and Illustration, she wanted to expand her knowledge of teaching and received her 500-hour RYT at Simplicity Yoga Studio in Long Island, New York. Kaitlyn now teaches and lives in Northwestern Colorado. She draws her inspiration for her classes from her everyday life. Kaitlyn’s classes focus on alignment, breath work, meditation, and yoga philosophy. She loves to help others take what they learn on the mat and incorporate it into their everyday lives. Kaitlyn works as the Social Media Manager, and Graphic Designer for Omstars. When she’s not teaching or practicing yoga, she enjoys camping, hiking, rock climbing, reading, and painting.

  • Clean Water for Over 300 Kids in Kolkata, India

    Thanks to Omstars, MiiR, and the 8,823 compassionate yogis who participated in the July 2018 #HandstandMechanicsChallenge, Splash will ensure clean water, hands and toilets for over 300 kids at two schools in Kolkata, India.

    It was during a trip to Seattle, Washington, that Kino first came across the flagship location of MiiR, a registered B-corporation that gives a portion of all sales to organizations with sustainable methods of empowerment, like Splash! Thus, the 3-way partnership between Omstars, MiiR and Splash was born!

    The two schools, Bastuhara Vidyapith Primary School and Jnanendu Siksha Niketan High School share a campus in Kolkata’s Tangra neighborhood, which is being rapidly transformed by population growth and construction. As a result, the property prices in this area are quite high, resulting in pockets of slums in between high-rise towers where many of the students live.

    The schools are not only situated close to the Dhapa landfill – the biggest dump in the city, which operates at unsustainable rates today – they also lack adequate infrastructure to provide their students with clean water. While water is widely available at school, it is typically contaminated with E. Coli and other water-borne illnesses. With 94% of schools in Kolkata lacking soap for handwashing and over 30% of toilets with no water for flushing or doors or locks for privacy it can be difficult for kids to stay healthy.

    This is where Splash comes in with its innovative WASH-in-Schools model that includes:

    1. Installing the enabling infrastructure, including water filtration systems, water storage to ensure access, handwashing and drinking water stations, and child-friendly sanitation facilities.
    2. Delivering behaviour change programs for children and adults. This includes training focal teachers through an engaging, activity-based curriculum and supporting them to instruct student hygiene clubs on how to engage their peers in positive behaviours, such as handwashing.
    3. Creating a WASH ecosystem to ensure programme sustainability. This includes co-investment from schools and government, operations and maintenance training for school janitorial staff, school incentives through recognition programs, engaging parents through soap drives, and building local supply chains to ensure availability of spare parts and repair services.
    4. Conducting routine monitoring and evaluationof project sites. To ensure continuous learning and program improvement, Splash conducts pre and post-intervention assessments at each school, followed by five years of routine monitoring, twice per year.

    Because of companies like MiiR and all of you caring, kind, and motivated yogis out there, together, we will be able to help hundreds of more kids stay healthy, excel in school, and unlock their full potential. With your support, kids at schools like Bastuhara Vidyapith and Jnanendu Siksha Niketan can thrive!

    Who is Splash?

    Splash believes that every child deserves to have clean water, clean hands, and clean toilets. Our goal is to improve the health and development of children living in urban poverty by implementing integrated water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs in high-density, child-serving institutions, like schools and orphanages. This work supports the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, and to reduce WASH inequalities between and within countries. 

    We target 100% of a child population—every orphanage in China and every public school in major cities like Kolkata, Addis Ababa, and Kathmandu—to demonstrate our WASH programs are adaptable, scalable, and sustainable. We work closely with local communities, encouraging governments and NGOs to replicate our model.  Splash turns philanthropy into a catalyst for long-term systemic change. The impact has been significant. Founded in 2007, Splash has already completed over 1,730 projects serving more than 428,000 kids in eight countries: China, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. We are on track to help one million kids have clean water, hands, and toilets by 2023. Follow Splash at: FACEBOOK TWITTER INSTAGRAM You Tube

    Who is MiiR?

    MiiR is a drinkware company that designs modest products built on function and simplicity for daily use.  Every product is paired with a trackable give code that gives back 3% of revenue to clean water and health projects. MiiR exists to empower people with access to a better future

  • Make A Donation & Download Your Free Class

     Together we rise Ashtanga Yoga Dispatch

     Because ONE doesn’t mean the same. Uniformity is not COMMUNITY. And LOVE does not come with rules and borders.

    Oh, the irony! 
     
    Last Monday, I wrote about the dangers of tribalism. And now, this week the moon has been full and I’m back with an opposite message – of the powerful difference a tribe can make when we unite, for good.
     
    You see, it all started last week when I woke up to yet more distressing images of frightened children, being torn from their parents at our border. Thousands of them. My heart hurt. 
     
    But by the next morning, my despair was replaced with an idea. What if I put together … 
     
    Well, within 24 hours of putting out an all-call to the community, I had more teachers volunteering to participate than there are poses in primary series! And by Saturday, I had the voices of 39 different teachers, from around the world, each leading their own small part. Only when put together, the result is anything but small! In fact, this class is a beautiful example of a tribe coming together in a powerful way – uniting our voices and practice – to create the good that we crave.
     
    Of course, I knew there would be variances. And not just in voice, but in style and pace. I even knew that, based on when they learned the series and from who they learned it from – there would be other noticeable differences. To which, I thought – Good!
     
    Because ONE doesn’t mean the same.
    Uniformity is not COMMUNITY.
    And LOVE does not come with rules and borders.
     
    Quite frankly, you and I don’t practice yoga to build walls. Just the opposite. And yet, division – even within our own yoga community – runs deep. But not this time. Not in this class. And not for this cause. Because the bigger irony turns out to be this: In reaching out to help heal others, it becomes US we end up helping to heal.
     
    And so I hope you will join the 39 teachers and me – along with students around the world – as we rise together, in practice. In healing. And in love.
     
     
    Thank you for caring and for your generosity. And thank you to the teachers below, for being our guiding, shining light.
     
    For the children.
    P.S. You can also help by sharing this message on Facebook and Instagram, or forwarding to friends. Thank you again

    By Peg Mulqueen

    Peg Mulqueen is the founder of Ashtanga Dispatch, a global and inclusive community, bringing together teachers and students devoted to the eight-limbed practice of yoga.
    Peg Mulqueen from Ashtanga Yoga Dispatch
    FUNDAMENTAL POSTURES:
    PRIMARY SERIES:
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    CLOSING SEQUENCE:
  • Join this June Challenge, become the force of One Million Yogis!

    What if one million of us came together to empower others? I believe we can definitely make this happen. And it will truly enrich our yoga practice, too. It will become a two-way practice. It is estimated that 300 million people enjoy yoga worldwide today, generating 80 billion U.S. dollars. If we are part of this huge global trend, why don’t we take our own initiative and redirect a portion of this huge resource to give back to Mother India?

    This is why we are reaching out to you to be the force of One Million Yogis to make a massive positive impact in many more lives in India who desperately need our support for survival.  While we enjoy our blissful yoga practice on the mat, many mothers struggle to prepare the next meal for their children, young girls are forced into early arranged marriages, and orphans wander as HIV infected parents die in the towns and villages of India, the birthplace of yoga. I even met a teen girl in West Bengal who has been tortured by her father and brothers simply because she does not quit school. Today, with YGB’s scholarship and social program, she is earning good money and her family stopped beating her…the stories go on and on. Just as we want to make progress with our yoga, everyone  wants to make progress in life to reach one’s dream with joy and light. Why can’t we provide them with life changing opportunities?

    Most of us probably started yoga asana practice for physical exercise.

    Eleven years ago, I walked into an Ashtanga yoga class in Los Angeles looking for a fun and rigorous fitness class. I got hooked. I loved learning new poses and sweating a lot, while also slowing down and deepening my breathing. I was also introduced to Yoga’s spiritual tradition and started learning Sanskrit. One day, I read a line that hit me to my core, “First part of your life is to experience and learn. Second part of your life is to serve others.” I was 47. I did not know much about Seva or Karma of the yoga tradition. But this message truly resonated in me. With all I got from my daily yoga practice and my life, I needed to give back. To my surprise, I soon learned that many people actually share the exact same feeling!

    This was how Yoga Gives Back (YGB) was born and continues to grow. In its eleventh year, we now fund more than 1200 impoverished mothers, youths, and children in India with microloans and education funds with a minimum of five-year commitment to each person. Today, yoga communities in nearly 20 countries support our mission.

    I have never imagined that YGB could grow this much. But now, as YGB goes into its second decade of operation, I am convinced that we can do so much more. We can reach out to One Million Yogis globally!

    Here is another example how your support change lives:

    This year, we are adding new 25 teen “Devadasi” (servant to God) girls to our program, just north of Mysore. These girls  were born to Devadasi families in central Karnataka state. Once they reach to puberty, they are given to God in a marriage ceremony and labeled as “Devadasi, ” which is the beginning of their life long career as prostitutes as their mothers and grandmothers were.  Our NGO partner is working hard to rescue these girls, to provide them with good education and secure life so they can build their life with independence, sustainability and self-esteem. Your participation in this June Challenge will support these girls’ future!

    This is why I believe we can engage one million yogis:  We are not asking anybody to run a 5K to raise funds or to donate 1 million dollars. With your daily dedication, Kino’s continued support to our mission, and amazingly generous sponsors backing our effort, we get closer to One Million Yogis every day.

    If One Million Yogis get involved in this revolutionary movement, whether volunteering, hosting a class, doing Challenge, donating whatever you can, we can definitely uplift millions of lives in India. So why don’t we make this happen?!

    Running YGB for the last 11 years while enjoying the benefit and abundance of yoga practice, I am more convinced that yoga practice is enriched when it becomes a two-way practice. When you direct your energy gained from this practice not only to yourself but also to others, yoga truly starts to mean more. Yoga’s ripple effect truly starts to explode beyond our imagination. Maybe this is why Yoga means “Union.” Together we can effect change, by honoring our practice, and activating our gratitude.  Join us this June for Kino and Ahmed’s 10 Day Challenge, and stay involved in Yoga Gives Back’s #One MillionYogis Campaign. Namaste.

    By Kayoko Mitsumatsu

    Kayoko Mitsumatsu is the Founder and Executive Director of Yoga Gives Back