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The Yoga Alliance Foundation is introducing a second phase to their emergency fund for yoga teachers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dubbed the “Eka Recovery Fund,” its pilot program, Teaching for Equity—in partnership with the nonprofit Ivy Child International—will place stipends directly in the hands of yoga teachers around the world, who are bringing yoga to historically marginalized communities.
All yoga professionals in financial need with at least two years of experience teaching in communities that have traditionally faced barriers to access are eligible to apply or be nominated for the program, through December 18th, 2020. “This program is meant to amplify and celebrate the expertise of people who have dedicated years of their lives to yoga outreach and service. We want to be a force of support for yoga professionals throughout the world,” says Kristina Graff, Managing Director of the Yoga Alliance Foundation. “We’re humbled by what they do and are honored to be a part of it.”
The Teaching for Equity pilot is based on a program model created by Maya Breuer, the Yoga Alliance Vice President of Cross-Cultural Advancement, who has been working at the intersection of yoga and community outreach for decades. Breuer saw that teachers offering yoga in marginalized communities needed support, and that funding these teachers would allow them to continue their work in these communities.
In addition to providing immediate financial relief, Breuer sees the Eka Recovery Fund as a long-term agent of change. “This has been a long road, and we had to take a step back and ask How do we invest in recovery? This program is for the aftermath of COVID-19 and everything that follows,” Breuer says.
Breuer, who managed to breathe life into the program when she brought it to Graff, sees a two-pronged approach to recovery: financial stability and mentorship. “We are starting with people who have experience teaching in historically marginalized communities, and in the future we would like to encourage other teachers to begin offering classes in these communities,” Breuer says. “If we support teachers working in communities that have faced barriers to yoga access, we’re helping the teacher and the community. This program helps bring yoga to people where they are,” Graff says.
Breuer maintains that Yoga Alliance and the Yoga Alliance Foundation are committed to equity in yoga. That is why Teaching for Equity has a diverse advisory committee of people who represent different lived experiences who consult on questions of access and outreach. The goal is to encourage people from a variety of backgrounds to practice yoga, and to support the teachers who are already trusted members of underserved communities. “We want to shine a light on the disparities and lack of inclusion” Breuer says.
Graff Agrees. “The program comes in 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 across the world. They will serve as the administrative arm for the selection of teachers and awarding of program stipends. The amount of the stipend will be adjusted based on the GDP of the country in which the awardee lives or teaches.
“This program is for any yoga professional, it’s not limited to Yoga Alliance members. We want to engage the full yoga community, worldwide” Graff says.
To apply for the program, nominate an impactful teacher, or make a donation to the Eka Recovery Fund, click here.