Living Yoga is throwing a party and you’ll want to be there! There are still tickets available for the gala and auction that’s happening this Friday October 21st, 6pm at the Leftbank Annex – 101 North Weidler, Portland, OR 97227. All proceeds benefit Living Yoga, a home-grown, non-profit providing spiritual transformation to less fortunate populations all over the state.

This year the featured speaker is Dave Dahl, founder of Dave’s Killer Bread. He will share his own personal journey from incarceration to owning a successful local business. Reserve your seat at this truly inspiring event and help Living Yoga continue it’s great work. Living Yoga Executive Director, Amy Eaton, was kind enough to take the time to answer a few of our questions on what Living Yoga’s all about.

What is Living Yoga’s mission?

Our mission is to provide yoga as a tool for personal change in prisons, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, transitional facilities and to populations who would otherwise not have access to it.

How did Living Yoga get started?

Founded by Sarahjoy Marsh in 1998 and incorporated in 2002, Living Yoga (LY) began as an outreach program for the incarcerated. The program’s purpose at that time was to provide helpful tools through the practice of yoga for dealing with stress, tension, addiction, and anxiety for people who would otherwise not have access to yoga. Sarahjoy saw the program as two-fold. Inmates in prison had little access to resources to actually begin the long, slow process to transform themselves to select healthy lifestyle choices and ways of being. She also saw this same pattern after their release. The result was a revolving door of human misery, community unrest and squandered human potential.

How can yoga change someones life?

Whether our students—youth or adults— are incarcerated, in treatment, in shelter, or accessing other community services; they are working to restart their lives and build new resources for themselves. Frequently, the people we serve are faced with barriers that are often caused by systemic discrimination and social and economic injustice.

The benefits of yoga are many—not only physical but therapeutic as well. Offering a regular, and consistent class helps our students develop necessary life skills for dealing with stress and gives practical skills for breathing, managing anxiety, and relaxation.

Connecting students to the greater community through a healthy practice of yoga creates and develops healthy supports. By integrating students focused on personal change and growth into the community through yoga, we help to break down and dismantle stereotypes that keep members of our community separate.

Increasing community education and outreach fosters tolerance and empathy. Living Yoga sees a future where people from all walks of life can choose to change for the better and become a positive part of the community.

How can someone help on a local level? Donate? Volunteer? Teach yoga?

Make Donations. We are mostly supported by individual donations—donations make it possible to train, manage, and coordinate volunteers to teach yoga programs.

Make US Visible. Living Yoga needs as much publicity as possible. Write a statement of support on your website next to our link, <> . If you work in media, marketing, or public relations you can donate your skills to help us let people know about our work and the services we provide.

Become a Volunteer. People can donate your time by helping out in the office, with special events, or by going through our training and teaching at sites within our programs. We have over 70 active volunteers teaching throughout the Portland Metro Area and in Salem. We offer great trainings and continuing education, as well as a wonderful community to be involved in.

Teach a Class or Training in Honor of Living Yoga Students. Donate the proceeds of a weekend workshop, class, or seminar to Living Yoga in honor of the students Living Yoga reaches. Share with your students that the health of any community is dependent on the health of its individuals and their participation at your event helps to provide yoga for many.

Why should our readers attend the upcoming Gala this week and what can they expect?

Readers should attend the up-coming gala to experience a fun evening focused around the power of community, the power of hope, and the power of transformation. Our programs support people who are working very hard to change their lives—most people in prison will leave prison, youth in trouble today—will grow to become adults, and our students in recovery will leave rehab and be back out in the community needing healthy supports to stay sober. Living Yoga provides practical tools that people can use every day—and especially when going through stressful times. We all deserve a second chance or multiple chances at having happy and healthy lives.

Attending the gala not only shows support, but helps a program that works everyday to encourage human potential. Our event is titled, Invest in the Human Spirit. We raise funds to support our programs and to support training and managing volunteers committed to service. We need help and funding to do this. This year’s speaker is Dave Dahl of Dave’s Killer Bread—4 times incarcerated and now a success on the outside. Wonderful food—fun music—a lively auction, and most importantly—a great cause.

If it’s impossible for you to attend the gala on Friday, there are several other ways you can get involved. Take a look at the Volunteer page on their website or contact them for more information.