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The winner of the YogaDorks for Haiti T-shirt design contest!

So yesterday was Yogis for Haiti day, a call to action initiated by the excellent yoga activist organization, Off the Mat and Into the World. It was an invitation to the global yoga community to practice in support of Haiti relief efforts. Yoga studios were encouraged to be part of the event and commit to donating a percentage of their earnings to Partners in Health. I didn’t participate because I only found out about the event on Tuesday, which wasn’t enough time to get organized, and I’m not a studio, and I don’t teach yoga on Wednesdays.

But even though I didn’t sign up for the official event, it was enough to inspire me to donate all contributions from my weekly Thursday community class to Doctors Without Borders, in support of Haiti relief (the class is always pay-what-you-wish, and all funds are donated back to rad’a, the space where I teach). I’ve been watching the yoga community’s response to the crisis in Haiti, and it has been really inspiring. This initiative and Project Haiti: Yoga 4 Trauma (which is a long-term plan for bringing yoga therapy to Haiti) are among the more united calls to action. On a smaller scale, I’ve seen some fundraising classes in my community, and there have been other, more creative responses, such as YogaDork’s excellent T-shirt design contest.

Yet, I also see that it’s difficult to rise to action as a united yoga front. And I can speak for myself in saying that I’m still kind of overwhelmed by the whole earthquake situation. I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions since the news broke two weeks ago, and it even silenced my blogging. What could I say after such a tragedy? What could I offer? Blogging about yoga felt so very trivial compared to that kind of catastrophe. I have felt emotional overwhelm, powerlessness, media saturation, and finally “compassion fatigue.” I felt like I all I had to give is money (and some old clothes), and it isn’t enough, and there are so many logistical barriers that my teeny little contribution won’t even reach those who need it in time…

And then I came to see that this self-defeating way of thinking doesn’t serve anyone. I also began to feel a responsibility as a yoga teacher and member of my community to step forward and give what I can. Yoga. Not only for the people of Haiti, but for the people in my own community, who may have been feeling the same emotional drain and conflicted feelings as I have been, and may be in need of a little nurturing. And so, this afternoon I’ll be offering a heart-centred class with an emphasis on developing compassion for self and others. It may be just a small token, but it’s something.

What has been the response in your yoga community to Haiti’s suffering? What has been your personal, emotional response?

If you’re not able to make it to any of the yoga for Haiti events happening in your community, but still want to contribute in a yogified way, show your love with the official YogaDorks for Haiti shirt! All proceeds go to the Red Cross!

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