The Yoga Alliance Foundation is introducing a second phase in its emergency fund for yoga teachers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Teaching for Equity, known as the “Eka Recovery Fund,” working with the nonprofit Ivy Child International, will place scholarships directly in the hands of yoga teachers around the world bringing yoga to historically marginalized communities.
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All financial distress yoga professionals with at least two years of experience teaching in communities where traditionally admission restrictions exist can apply or be nominated for the program until December 18, 2020. “This program is designed to expand the program and celebrate the expertise of people who have devoted years of their lives to attaining and serving yoga. We want to support yoga professionals all over the world, ”says Kristina Graff, Managing Director of the Yoga Alliance Foundation. “We are humble about what they do and are honored to be a part of it.”
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The pilot project “Teaching for Equity” is based on a program model that was created by Maya Breuer, Vice President of the Yoga Alliance for Intercultural Progress, and has been working at the interface between yoga and public relations for decades. Breuer saw that teachers offering yoga in marginalized communities needed support and that funding for these teachers would enable them to continue their work in those communities.
Breuer sees the Eka Recovery Fund not only as an immediate financial relief, but also as a long-term change agent. “It has been a long road and we had to take a step back and wonder how to invest in the recovery. This program is intended for the consequences of COVID-19 and everything that follows, ”says Breuer.
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Breuer, who managed to breathe life into the program when she made it to Graff, sees a two-pronged approach to recovery: financial stability and mentoring. “We start with people who have experience teaching in historically marginalized communities, and in the future we want to encourage other teachers to offer courses in these communities,” says Breuer. “When we support teachers who work in communities where access to yoga is disabled, we are helping the teacher and the community. This program helps bring people closer to yoga where they are,” says Graff.
Breuer claims that Yoga Alliance and the Yoga Alliance Foundation work for justice in yoga. For this reason, Teaching for Equity has a diverse advisory body made up of people who have different experiences and advise on issues of access and reach. The aim is to encourage people from diverse backgrounds to practice yoga and to support the teachers who are already trusted members of underserved communities. “We want to shed light on the differences and the lack of inclusion,” says Breuer.
Graff agrees. “The program is a response to what we heard from the community for what was needed,” she says. “COVID-19 is the current crisis, and the crisis is worse in historically marginalized communities.”
Ivy Child International has many years of experience with grassroots organizations around the world. They serve as the administrative branch for the selection of teachers and the award of program grants. The amount of the scholarship is based on the GDP of the country in which the award winner lives or teaches.
“This program is aimed at every yoga professional and is not limited to members of the Yoga Alliance. We want to involve the entire yoga community worldwide,” says Graff.
To apply for the program, name an effective teacher, or make a donation to the Eka Recovery Fund, click here.