Taking Your Yoga Off the Mat

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April 6, 2011

I love the whole concept of taking your yoga off the mat, but the organization Off the Mat, Into the World® (OTM) is putting its money where its mouth is and doing just that.

I first found out about this organization when I asked people to nominate their favorite Seva Artist as part of The Daily Downward Dog YOGAR awards and heard from quite a few of you that OTM was more than worthy of the recognition.

OTM is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2007 by Seane Corn, Hala Khouri, and Suzanne Sterling (a trifecta of awesome yogini goddesses). Their mission is to use the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite social change.

So how do they do it?

Creating leaders. A few times each year, weeklong intensives are conducted. Attendees are guided through a transformational process using vinyasa flow yoga, meditation, and other tools to uncover their passion and motivation. They then are taught how to bring their own unique purpose into the world as action with the support of their community. The goal of the leadership training is to inspire the attendees to become active in their local or global community in an effective, sustainable, and joyful way. If you have two minutes, please watch the video below to hear Seane explain the leadership program way better than I ever could.

Global Seva Challenge. Every year OTM sponsors an international service project with the goal of building consciousness about global issues of social justice and equity and at the same time raising significant funds to support communities in need. In the first three years of the Challenge, over $1.5 million has been raised to help Uganda, Cambodia, and South Africa. This year’s effort is focused on Haiti. OTM challenges participants to raise funds in their local communities, and when their goals have been met, the participants go on a Bare Witness Tour—a two-week journey where they work directly with the organizations they raised funds for.

How you can take your yoga off the mat and support OTM:

  • Donate.
  • Purchase products by companies like Lucy, Manduka, and EarthLust; they give a portion of the proceeds of your purchase to OTM.
  • Follow OTM on Facebook, Twitter, or sign up for their newsletter.
  • Keep up-to-date on OTM activities on their blog.
  • Contact them about the leadership program and how to get involved in local efforts for the Global Seva Challenge.

I have to admit, as a former brand marketer, OTM’s tagline really rocks:

“Why stretch when you can reach?”

As I try to figure out how I want to take my yoga off the mat, I would love to hear from any DDD readers who have been involved with OTM. Please share your experiences or let me know how you are taking your yoga off the mat.

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