As a child, hearing my father’s stories of his experiences growing up in India as a planted that seed of curiosity in me. This was long before I had ever experienced yoga and before I had ever been out of the country. I took my first trip to India in 2012 with one of my best friends and inspiration yoga teachers, Leeann Carey (www.retreatmaven.com). After that trip, I knew I would be back, I just wasn’t sure when.
I constantly remind my the students in my 200 hr yoga teacher training program that the best teachers are lifelong students. Because I believe in leading by example, I decided that I wanted to further my yoga education and explore new ways of teaching and inspiring my students. I came across Tiffany Cruikshank’s Yoga Medicine (www.yogamedicine.com) program. When I saw her 1,000 hr program, I knew I had found my next educational path. Not only is Tiffany’s teaching orthopedic in nature, but it is done retreat style! What more could a yogi who loves travel ask for?!?!? Little did I know that my first retreat with her would forever influence my life. Where else, but India! In December of 2014, I received an email from Yoga Medicine describing a module coming up in Kolkata, India in December 2015. The moment I read it, I knew I had to go. With tears in my eyes, I looked at my (incredibly supportive) husband and said, “I HAVE to do this!” What was the message that provoked such an emotional response in me? Human trafficking, homeless children and children living in slums in red-light districts. It seems surreal and just a Liam Neeson movie, but it’s real. And as a mother of two daughters, this hit way too close to home. These are the words I read that inspired me:
“Each year, millions of women and children are trafficked in India. A child goes missing somewhere in the country every eight minutes. Almost 35,000 children were officially reported missing in 2011, however it is thought only 30 percent of cases are reported.
Almost 80 percent of all worldwide trafficking is for sexual exploitation, with an estimated 1.2 million children being bought and sold into sexual slavery every year, and India is the poisonous hub. These staggering statistics aren’t just statistics, they are very real.
We, as a global community, have a unique opportunity to make a lasting and deeply meaningful impact in the community of Kolkata. This is our chance to give back to a spiritually rich community that has given us so much.
Our chosen project is to support the day-to-day operation of 15 street kids shelters, preventing the trafficking of kids ages 4-15 living in the slums and red light districts of Kolkata. The shelters provide healthcare, education, nutritional meals, tutoring, job coaching, yoga classes and other recreational activities for over 525 children. Our funds will be used towards teacher’s and supervisor’s salaries, accounting, programming, transportation, and educational materials.”-www.yogamedicine.com
I signed up immediately to be a part of this movement to make a global impact on the lives of yoga girls and children who were less fortunate that my own. On December 1, 2015, I set out on this adventure to “Be the change”. It was while I was on this journey that the inspiration for “Travels of a Yogi” was born. Pack your bags and join me!