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Teaching yoga to underserved populations is growing trend within the community. Call it karma yoga or seva (selfless service), or simply the desire to share the wide-reaching benefits of yoga, the practice is being introduced to prisoners, veterans, seniors, homeless mothers, and even schoolchildren.
Now there is a publication for the people doing this work. The Journal of Yoga Service, a biannual release from the Yoga Service Council, presents advice and wisdom to colleagues already involved with yoga service, and to those just starting out. “There’s a definite need for a forum to discuss issues specific to [this] emerging field,” says Editor in Chief Kelly Birch. “There’s a need to establish best practices for working with various populations and also a need to share effective organizational strategies so that yoga service is both effective and sustainable. That includes the absolute necessity for self-practice—we serve effectively when we do the practice ourselves.”
The idea for the new magazine, whose inaugural issue is available now for free, came from a special issue of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy that featured yoga service research and best practices. Many of the contributors were active in these spaces and had lots of ideas to share. “It was clear from that experience that the community could support its own journal,” said Kelly McGonigal, who served as the editor in chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy from 2005 to 2012. McGonigal is a peer reviewer for the new journal, along with several other well-known leaders in the yoga service community such as Leah Kalish and Jnani Chapman.
In future issues of the journal, which will be available to council members, will include more research and program evaluation, Birch says. Got an idea to share? Birch is now accepting submissions for the next issue.