Can Yoga Change the World?

Reduce, recycle re-use… 40 years ago these were not every day concepts. But today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and in one generation we've become conditioned to head for the recycle bin instead of the trash with our paper, plastic and aluminum cans. 

Every time we make that effort, we show our love for the environment … and we help to change the world.

Some of us, like Recycle Your Mat founder Stephanie Stano, take that one step farther and look for ways to help the environment and change the world through programs that have a direct effect on people's lives.

Recycleyourmat Stephanie's goal for Recycle Your Mat is simple:

1) keep yoga mats out of the landfill

2) create a system for yoga mat recycling

3) recycle and up-cycle mats in a ecologically conscious
way

… but what she's done goes much further than that…

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There are Recycle Your Mat drop off locations all over the country collecting mats that are sent to Stephanie's Eugene Oregon location. Our closest location is the We've Got Your Back store in Los Gatos. Many are redistributed for use in a unique program called Street Yoga. Here's a synopsis of the program from their Web site:

Street Yoga offers free yoga, wellness
and meditation
classes to homeless youth, and youth at risk of
homelessness. We hope to offer to the youth a chance to create sincere,
lasting wellness in their own lives, and at the same time give them
tools to help themselves meet their own core needs.


We're often asked Why Yoga with
Homeless Youth?
Don't they need food and shelter first? We've
gone through much searching after this. At it's core it's a matter of
respect and dignity. Why do we brush our teeth? Because, at best, it
helps us feel more healthy, whole and hopeful. Yoga provides that, and
so much more.

You might wonder about giving away Yoga sessions to street kids, when other organizations are giving them food, shelter and jobs. There's a very thoughtful article on this subject here, but basically, the Street Yoga folks explain it this way:

We've gone through much searching after this. At it's core it's a matter
of respect and dignity. Why do we brush our teeth? Because, at best, it
helps us feel more healthy, whole and hopeful. Yoga provides that, and
so much more.

Love can change the world in so many ways. Love has so many faces.The willingness to work with kids who have backgrounds of abuse, neglect, drugs and homelessness shows an incredible example of looking at the world from a place of love rather than fear. And providing a chance to interact with positive adult role models in a Yoga practice focused on self-growth and empowerment gives them something no one can ever take away… ownership of their own sense of self worth. 

And that's a great way to change the world.

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