E-Newsletter - May 2010
Yoga Gives Back
For the cost of one yoga class, you can change a life.

SUCCESS STORY, Grameen Koota, India

Sarasu: Giving my four children a full education

Sarasu "Seven years ago my husband and I would make baskets to sell in the local market. We wanted to do more, but we did not have the money," recalls Sarasu Ashok. Sarasu and her husband are both skilled artisans, selling bamboo handicrafts (fans, baskets etc.) from her hometown in Channapatna, a South Indian city famous for wooden hand work. In 2005 she obtained her first loan of Rs 7,000 ($175) from Grameen Koota.

"They offered me the lowest interest rate and the loan officers are kind to us," she explains. With that money she steadily developed her inventory and invested more heavily in procuring raw materials. With an excellent track record, she was able to access larger loan amounts from Grameen Koota, borrowing upto Rs 30,000 ($600) to grow her business. As she and her husband produced larger volumes of bamboo handicrafts, they were able to break into markets outside Channapatna. Now they can invest 10 times more than previously for raw materials.

She says that her greatest accomplishment however has been educating her four children. Rashmi (32) has completed her Masters Degree in social work and now lives happily with her family in Bangalore. Kavya (20) is currently pursuing a science diploma. Manjunath (18) is completing his pre-University degree and Prakruthi (16) is finishing her high school education.

"I only studied until the 5th grade. I always wanted my children to receive a full education. Years ago I did not know how I would put together the money for this, but today my business is prosperous and I can afford to give them a full life," she says with pride.

Ayesha D'Souza of Grameen Koota provides us with regular updates on women whose lives have been significantly improved thanks to micro lending. In addition to providing micro loans, Grameen Koota is providing health and hygiene workshops for member families, as well as launching water and sanitation programs. All of these programs are key to insuring that members' progress is sustainable and that poverty is eliminated. Grameen Koota now reaches over 300,000 women in the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra, with the goal of reaching one million women.




Tag Team Benefit flyerYGB Tag Team Benefit Class with Ally Hamilton, Jorgen Christiansson, Charlie Samos, Briohny Smyth, and Kourtney Kaas,
followed by a short YGB video, Sambazon's refreshments and great raffle prizes by Evolve, Manduka, Yogitoes, Lululemon, Le Pain Quotidien and more!!!

SUNDAY, MAY 16, 11:45AM-1:45PM
Yogis Anonymous
1221 2nd St., Santa Monica 90401
View event on Facebook

Register and get a FREE Yogitoes headband!

The Teachings of the Buddha flyerThe Teachings of the Buddha with Etan Boritzer

SUNDAY, MAY 23, 6:00-8:00PM
Aanand Saagar
606 Venice Blvd. Unit H (at Abbot Kinney Blvd.), Venice 90291
View event on Facebook

Anusara-Inspired Bhakti Flow with April Ritchey

SUNDAY, JUNE 27, 6:00AM-8:00PM
Aanand Saagar
606 Venice Blvd. Unit H (at Abbot Kinney Blvd.), Venice 90291
View event on Facebook

View more upcoming events on our Facebook page and web site!





Finding Balance: Giving to Yourself So You Can Give to Others

Tag team donation class with Felicia Tomasko, Angela Kukahn, Brian Aganad, Mary Beth LaRue, and Ally Hamilton

"As a yoga teacher and studio owner I'm committed to and excited about supporting Yoga Gives Back. The practice of yoga has changed my life and given me so much. It seems the very least we can do as a community is try to give something back to the country from where it came. Sometimes it can feel like the problems of the world are insurmountable. The fact is, a very small amount of money (what most people spend on a couple of yoga classes), can really change someone's life." —Ally Hamilton, Founder of Yogis Anonymous

Thank you to Yogis Anonymous and its supportive community. This was a great class with sweat and fun!! Refreshments from Uncle Josh Nelson, Sambazon, and Whole Foods were appreciated by all. Thanks everyone!!!


Yoga Inside Out

Vinyasa class with Tawney Bevacqua and Jillian Szafranski

First of the monthly donation classes at Aanand Saagar. Fun filled joyful flow class with great energy. Thanks Tawney, Jillian and everyone who joined the class!


"Women's Empowerment Workshop 2010 Series #1"

A delightful and playful embodiment of Yoga, dance and meditation with Hala Khouri, Cristi Christensen and Isabelle Du Soleil

A truly magical night with an energetic, inspiring and fun trio of teachers. We cannot wait for the next event! There is something special about this focus on Empowering Women, but men are welcome, too!!!


A Day of Giving

The chant started at 7:30am with Sarah, then moved to Fun yoga with Scott, Mindfulness with Christie, Vinyasa Flow with Emily, Iyengar yoga with Kishor, Slow Stretch with Kathy, Restorative with John, and finally wound up from 6:00-6:45pm with Kirtan, courtesy of the Yoga Das 108 Peace Band!

100% of the proceeds from this day were split between Yoga Gives Back and a local charity. This was the first YGB event in Riverside. Such generous donation of time and commitment by everyone at F.U.N Yoga. Thank you!!


Gratitude for Embodiment

A powerful Anusara class by the amazing ensemble of Meagan McCrary, Sarika Quach and Tad Robichaux

We all became fans of Anusara practice at this gathering. Thank you all for being such passionate supporters of this event.

View more event photos on our Facebook page!




Yoga Gives Back Director Leslie Hendry visiting IndiaWhile studying yoga in Mysore this winter, YGB Director Leslie Hendry visited our local partner Grameen Koota. With YGB India Director Anand Varadaraj, Leslie met with women whose lives are testament to the success of micro financing.

"Namaste," I said, needing no translation. I saw a few smiles come from the audience. Gratitude graced their faces, and my own. An elderly, thin woman, wanted to hug me. I felt the same way. I couldn't get enough of these courageous women who I had known for less than twenty minutes.

Invited into one of the women, Jayashree's home for tea, we waited while she made the preparations to heat up the water. With her son on her hip, she never stopped attending to something. Finally she sat down long enough to talk. One of her sons is preparing for university. "He wants to become a doctor," she said with pride.

Jayashayree showed us her three businesses. First was the cab service her husband operates, where micro loans were used to purchase his tuk tuk. Next was a sewing business that produces goods for clients in Bangalore. Finally Jayashayree took us to the shop around the corner from her home where she sells chats (snacks) and household necessities like small packets of detergent and shampoo. One woman opened her living room to show us the recharge station in the corner, where she charges batteries or her clients. The kids showed us pigeons they were training for a flying contest and climbed trees to show how to shake down fruit from above.

Absorbing the scene of women and children who were eager to meet us and show us their lives, there is no doubt that the long-term, generational route out of poverty is through education. These children's parents have access to funds to create stronger economies for their families and these children will benefit tremendously. All we have to do is to be there to continue to support the transformation.




This month, Yoga Gives Back would like to say "thank you" to...

  • Omni Tom
    Organic yoga clothing company headquartered in Europe supports YGB through their Angel Program. Thank you for your generosity!!

  • The Y Catalog
    Ally Hamilton, May Ambassador for the Y Catalogue, chose YGB for her charity. How does The Y Catalog's notion of Seva work? $1.08 of each product you buy from Ally's choices in The Y Catalog will go to Yoga Gives Back. Thank you to The Y Catalog and Ally!!!

Sarasu: Giving my four children a full education






What percentage of the world's population does not have access to credit?

a) 10% b) 25% c) 50%
d) 80%

(Scroll down for answer.)


Follow Yoga Gives Back on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

Sign up to receive this e-newsletter.

Email address:


Your donation helps Yoga Gives Back's campaign to alleviate poverty in India through microfinancing. To make a donation, click the link below.


Do You Know...? answer: d) 80%.
Source: Grameen Foundation


Yoga Gives Back is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization.

Question, comment, want to learn more?
Email info@yogagivesback.org.